This past February I had the opportunity to go to the youth national boulder championship in Oregon with one of the students on The Edge Halfmoon Climbing Team, Danielle. Danielle did pretty well considering it was her first time at this level. While I had an amazing time coaching Danielle, I was surprised that some of the most impactful moments were with a student I don’t official coach.
Matthew is a 16-year-old who climbs at The Edge Halfmoon but is not affiliated with any specific gym. He has been self-training for some time but occasionally I will give him insight. Along with Danielle, Matthew competed at the national level. As a climber without a coach, he did not have anybody to help him during a time called ‘isolation’. When in isolation, a climber is confined to a space where he cannot see the climbs or talk to anybody outside of isolation.
Danielle climbed in the morning and Matthew was in the afternoon, so I decided to pop into isolation to say good luck to him and ask if there was anything I could do to help him – fully expecting him to do his own thing. After a brief chat he asked if I would hang out there with him. So, I ended up getting to spend 3 hours with Matthew while helping him warm up and attempt to keep his nerves calm. After a rocky climbing performance, Matthew was discouraged, but God used that time to give me the opportunity to speak into his life.
It’s moments like this where I am grateful that my job goes beyond simply being a coach, but that this is a ministry founded on relationships. If I were working at a regular gym, Matthew wouldn’t be one of my students and I wouldn’t need to “waste my time working with the competition”. However, this is what we do in ministry, it doesn’t matter that he doesn’t claim The Edge Halfmoon, because we claim a relationship with him to show him the love of Christ. By spending that time with him I was able to continue to develop that relationship with him and to have the opportunity to talk about Christ with him. I do not know where the relationships with these students will go, but my prayer is that they will come to know Christ because of this sport that we all love so much.
*Names have been changed