July 20, 2012  So, I’m in the shoulder season of coaching. Which means I get introspective, and naval-gaze about life or something like that.

 And I realized something.

 Each year, and the end of June, the Calgary climbing team breaks apart for the summer.  The kids with whom I’ve spent 400 hours with over the past 9 months training, planning, laughing, are now all running around the mountains, getting themselves into trouble and adventure. I hear about their days out. I hear about the misadvantures and near epics as they get in over their heads. I hear from my friends that they ran into a group of strong kids who tore up a crag and were polite and well mannered as they sent. I get texts about the latest projects, or requests for beta. It’s fun to watch these guys as they muscle their way into the world.

 The other aspect of the summer is the focus on the last few kids. For July and August, I’m left with the precious few kids who are still training as they have made the national team and are preparing for the Youth World Championships in Singapore, Aug 29th. This year, my crew is made up of 7 kids, all of whom are psyched for the chance to go to the YWC and represent Canada as a part of our team.

 Amy Sutley, Alyssa Webber, Marc Eveleigh, Scott Eveleigh, Ethan Mathewson, Dimitry Karaman and Matt Lucas are all strong, focused and hyper motivated. And this motivation and psyche is inspiring.

 So, to stop rambling, and bring this rant to a point:  what did I realize?

 I realized this week that coaching these guys is good for my soul.

 I think that if I had not started coaching, my climbing life would have been so much emptier. I might have sent harder (or so I would like to think), but it would have had much less meaning to me. My psyche, has been maintained and strengthened by the enthusiasm and spark these kids have. They LOVE climbing. So do I, but I’m jaded. They are not. And so the purity of their psyche keeps mine rolling.

 Coaching is the best thing I could have done with my time. Coaching is the best thing I could have done for my climbing. The relationships I have formed though my coaching are some of the strongest I’ve ever had, and I have people with whom I will be friends with for the rest of my life as a result. I have met amazing parents, amazing coaches (Neve, I’m looking at you here), learned a lot about myself (Mr. Doyle, you have no idea the lessons you taught), learned a lot about climbing (thanks to the insights of Mike Cummings), headspace (Garebear, amateur shrink), and I have gotten to sit at the foot of the temple of Dave, and bask in his Dave-ness. And I’ve met amazing kids, with whom I’ve had incredible adventures. Tedi, Tony, Vix, Remy, Cathy, Sam, and Jelly were all kids on my team years ago, but I still maintain close friendships with them all, and many others.

 I’m sharing this in case someone who is thinking of coaching, or helping out with the local kids, is on the fence. My advice: Jump in with both feet.

 It will be the best thing you can do with your time. You might have trouble finding the time, but you’ll never regret finding the time. You’ll learn things about yourself you will carry for years. You’ll find that helping someone else become better, makes you better.

 So now I spend the next 10 weeks thinking and scheming and planning for the next season. I wonder which kids will show up and surprise me this coming year. And I wonder what I’ll learn in the process.