It’s late February and they’re climbing the walls in New London — literally.
No, it’s not a consequence of cabin fever, and it’s not a bad thing either.
We’re talking rock climbing, and the New London school district has taken the lead in offering students an athletic alternative to traditional winter sports.
The district has the lone competitive high school rock-climbing team in the Fox Cities and is one of the few in the state that offers students an opportunity to earn a varsity letter in the sport. This is the fourth year that New London has competed against other schools, and the Bulldogs already have had four meets at Adventure Rock Climbing Gym in Pewaukee.
The Bulldogs have more than 30 student athletes on their roster and are coached by Tiffany Schulz, a physical education teacher at the school. Schulz has overseen the activity since the 1999-2000 school year when a new fieldhouse and school were constructed, containing a rock-climbing wall.
You don’t have to be Batman or Spider-Man to compete as a climber, but athleticism is a must.
“You do have to be an athlete to participate, and you have to be in pretty good condition,” said Brian Yerkey, activities director at New London High.
It has opened up an athletic avenue at New London for students athletes who aren’t involved in established winter sports like basketball and wrestling that take years to master.
“We get a number of kids who don’t typically have a club they can be a part of,” Yerkey said. “It’s neat to see how it has drawn kids who would have never thought about being part of a team. And now they’re excited to wear a team shirt, get a team picture and be a part of something they haven’t done before.”
Want to know more about this sport? Check it out yourself. New London will host its first-ever home climbing competition from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday against Fond du Lac. Admission is free.
Nice job, New London, in offering students this unique athletic opportunity. You rock!
— Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, firstname.lastname@example.org, on Twitter @twfroberg