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Texas’ own Annie Sanders wins Women’s USAC National Team Trials

15 Year old sensation, Annie Sanders moved one step closer to the Olympic Dream with a win at last weekend’s USAC National Team Trials.  USA Climbing and MesaRim Austin hosted the Men’s and Women’s National Team Trials and the competition was intense.  

Annie Sanders, a member of the world renown Team Texas Climbing Team in Plano, TX was coming off a big win at the Yeti Nationals in Denver last year.  That event was a follow up to her 1st place finishes in bouldering and lead at the 2022 Youth Nationals.  

Twenty of the nations top women climbers arrived for qualifications that led to a brutal day of competition in both bouldering and lead that included a semi-final round and finals round of each the very same day. Climbers Natalia Grossman and Brooke Raboutou were not present as they have been preselected for the U.S. National Team.  

Annie’s first place finishes in both Boulder and Lead secures her spot on the U.S. National Boulder Team, Lead Team, and the newly formed Boulder & Lead Team.

 

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March 2023

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Cameryn Cass

Cameryn is graduating in May from Michigan State University. I’ve long enjoyed any and every activity that reminds me I’m alive; it’s no wonder I’m entranced by rock climbing. The connection you feel to everything — the rock, nature, yourself — when climbing is unparalleled and I’m so lucky to be able to write all about it.  In 2023 I will be embarking and a new adventure to Sydney, Australia where I will be sharing with readers the hot Australian  climbing scene and techniques making its way to the U.S.   

Steven Hu

Self-Taught Austin Street Photographer

Jason Chang

I’m Jason Chang, R32 dad, and Southern Cal dude, and I run the instagram account @theshortbeta. 

Edgar Martinez

Team Texas Climbing Dad and Sports Photographer

bouldering indoor rock climber

Andy Moss

Andy Moss is a traveling photographer currently based in Ohio. Her work focuses on landscapes, outdoor adventure, and lifestyle. 
Outside of photography, Andy loves rock climbing, backpacking, and drawing. She works as a route setter at a climbing gym and as a park guide for the NPS.

Troy Bassham

Troy is the primary instructor for high school and collegiate athletes at Mental Management Systems.  He works with players ages 13 and up.  Troy has been teaching Mental Management since 1995 and has been working with competitive golfers since 2004.  His main focus is helping players develop mental consistency during play, perform under pressure, build self-image of a winner, and training principles that focus on developing the mind and body at the same time.  Troy’s clients have won local, state and national events using Mental Management.  

Matt Dendy

Matt has been around for a long time in the Texas climbing community and started out working as a route setter and assistant manager at the Summit Carrollton location (currently Team Texas Training Center) when it was called Exposure in 2000. He then was a head route setter of a few different gyms around town over the next several years. 

In 2006 he started a business as a contract route setter where he set for many of the gyms in the metroplex commercially and for competitions. While coaching and setting part time Matt earned an Associate of Applied Science degree from Brookhaven College in 2008 and passed his registry exam for Radiography which he still maintains his certifications. Matt’s passion has always been coaching kids and helping them grow as climbers and most importantly helping them become better people. Matt has been coaching competitive climbers since 2004 and has been a coach with Team Texas starting in 2011. 

Matt has worked with climbers of all ages and abilities either during practice times, camps, clinics, or through private lessons. Matt has many athletes he’s coached over the years have success at the local, national, and on the world stage. Matt has coached notable climber Delany Miller who has won many National level events in youth and adult and who is now a professional climber and writer. Matt also coached a former local youth climber Grace Mckeehan who won the overall at the 2015 Youth World Championship in Arco, Italy. 

Matt is currently focused on preparing the the youth climbers of Team Texas and some adult climbers for all different levels of competition or training for outdoor pursuits. Matt also has a passion for developing new bouldering outside and has established well over 200 first ascents and counting in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas. Matt started documenting and writing guidebooks for local outdoor areas around 2003 and has written several published books already and has plans to write more in the future. When Matt isn’t coaching, route setting or writing guidebooks he enjoys spending time with his wife Amy and is always trying to keep up with his two boys Jackson and Carson who are also developing into great climbers. 

Matt’s oldest son Jackson earned a spot on the U.S. National Team this past year for the first time at the 2022 Youth Nationals placing 3rd in bouldering. Matt’s current role at Summit and Team Texas is coaching and route setting for the youth climbers either through commercial/competitive means, clinics and or camps to prepare them for high level competition.

Noah Hardwick

Noah has a Bachelors of Science, NASM CPT, MAT Jump Start and 15 years training experience with elite and professional athletes of all ages with a focus on biomechanics and injury prevention.

Marisa Michael

MSc, RDN, CSSD

Marisa Michael is a board-certified specialist in sports dietetics and author of Nutrition for Climbers: Fuel for the Send. She serves on the USA Climbing medical committee and has a private practice in Portland, Oregon. Find her online at nutritionforclimbers.com,  download free fueling guides, or follow her on Instagram @realnutritiondietitian for nutrition coaching, workshops, and writing services.

Merritt Ernsberger

My name is Merritt Ernsberger, and I am 22 years old. I grew up in Norman, Oklahoma which is where I found my love for climbing. I began climbing at 13 years old, which is very late when compared to the average competitor, in an old, outdated climbing gym that had been converted from a grain silo. Throughout my entire life my parents had been plagued by financial struggles, but they still sacrificed a huge amount of what they had to support my brother and I through our youth careers. I began competing in USA Climbing youth competitions in 2014. 

I quickly moved to Dallas to increase my training regime and to become a coach for Team Texas, which I am now the head speed climbing coach for. After years of hard work, in March 2021, I finally took my first victory in any USA Climbing event, local or national. Since then I have competed more regularly in the international circuit. For the vast majority of my climbing career I considered myself a nobody, but I never stopped believing in myself or working as hard as I could to make my dreams come true. I still have many more dreams that I will not stop working towards until they have been achieved.

Selah Taylor

Selah is the Director of Youth Programs as Summit Gyms in Plano, Grapevine, Denton and Carrollton.  

Mariana Steelsmith

United Rocks Story: After receiving the news that our newborn baby Jake had down syndrome, we were concerned of what the future will look like for him. We started thinking about what we can do to create a legacy for him and other kids like him so they will excel in their lives and be accepted, included and respected. Having extensive experience and support with our oldest son Gabriel in the rock climbing community, we decided to pursue the idea of creating a rock climbing team for kids with intellectual and developmental disabilities. 

Practicing and competing in the sport for over 7 years, coaches and teammates not only helped my oldest son to get strong and fit they also helped him with developing and improving his confidence, problem solving skills, focus, trust and social skills. I believe that the sport of rock climbing will help my son Jake and other kids with disabilities improve their physical skills, focus, confidence, independence and social skills. I am also confident that the rock climbing community will help us create awareness and inclusion so they can shine in their lives and in their communities. 

That’s how “United Rocks” Unity with Community came to life. We have come a long way in one year. From the inspiration that rock climbing might be a way to support our son, Jake, who was born with down syndrome… To the vision for a rock-climbing community where people with intellectual and developmental disabilities could not only be safe and accepted, but where they could also grow and thrive… 

To the creation of a non-profit organization with a business plan, forward-thinking goals, a governing board, and a physical location where it could happen. Our Grand Opening took place on November 14, 2021, with around 50 people who supported and shared our vision: participants, vendors, and volunteers. On February 6, 2022, we had our first practice with 5 participants. From there we have grown steadily in numbers of participants, in support persons, in volunteers, and in guests. Our goals and dreams are growing as well.

bouldering indoor rock climber

Niko Romero

Niko is the Head Coach of the world renowned, Team Texas competitive climbing team. Niko has been coaching for 6 years and was an accomplished climber himself for 16 years.

Niko was a member of the Youth National Team in speed climbing, a youth national finalist many times over, and has competed in France, Ecuador, Chile, Italy, and Mexico representing the US in youth and adult competitions.

As head coach of Texas Texas, Niko has led the team to the top of the podium in every regional and divisional championship, and at the Youth National Championships, has won bouldering and speed in 2021, and bouldering and lead in 2022.

Mitch Hagy

Mitch grew up in Indianapolis, IN and after ventures into aviation, music and auto racing, Mitch moved to Denton, TX in 1992.  

Mitch attended Indiana State University and Purdue University and is a graduate of the University of North Texas.  Mitch received his M.B.A. in 2004 during the year of the birth of his first born, Nathanael.  

His youngest, Paisley was born in 2010, the same year Mitch founded FOTOSPORT, a sports photography and publishing company.  An entrepreneur at heart, Mitch innovated the use of a green screen to create team composites for high school football teams.  His efficient format allowed football coaches to avoid the 3-4 hour dreaded picture day, and complete the process within an hour.  Word spread and his reputation grew to many other schools and teams, 

In 2014, Mitch began to publish sports media guides that were sold during high school football games.  Recognizing an industry increase in the cost to print as well as the limited ROI for advertisers, Mitch created some of the first digital sports magazines for high school sports teams.  

After ten years, nearly 200 high school teams and over 17,000 images a year taken,  Covid-19, closed all the schools and Mitch was forced to shut down operations of FOTOSPORT and seek other opportunities.  

Today, with the 2022 high school graduation of his son Nate, Mitch has embarked on a path to help his daughter reach the highest levels of competitive sport climbing.  Recognizing the limited support and media coverage of the sport, Mitch has created SPORTCLIMBER, a North American media hub dedicated to the promotion of Youth Sport Climbing Athletes.  

Mitch has brought along some of the top coaches, trainers, fitness and health experts, olympic gold medalists and incredibly talented photographers to help promote and grow this great sport of sport climbing.