Author Archives: Nathan Gray

RJ Youth Team Member Interview: Rachel Cohen

Rachel recently competed in SCS Divisional Championships at Sender One in Santa Ana, CA. She has been active in R&J Youth Programs for 10 years and is one of the leaders on the Varsity Team at RJ2.

rachel c profile

RJ Varsity Team climber: Rachel Cohen

Age: 16

Years climbing: 10

Joined Varsity Team: Fall of 2013

RJ: Will you share a little about how you discovered climbing?

 Rachel: When I was 6 years old, my mom heard about ROCK’n & JAM’n from a friend of hers. She decided to sign me and my older brother up for a week long summer camp. I fell in love with climbing instantly and never stopped!

RJ: What do you like about climbing?

 Rachel: I love the individuality of climbing. I was never very good at traditional team sports, so I was happy to find a sport that allowed me to be on my own, while still experiencing the support of a team. I also love that climbing is as much a mental sport as it is a physical sport. It exercises your entire body and your mind. 

RJ: What do you hate about climbing? What aspects of climbing are the most difficult for you?

 Rachel: The most difficult thing about climbing for me is the mental aspect. I often think too much about what I’m about to do while I’m climbing, instead of letting my body just do it. It’s easy to psych yourself out on something you think is going to be too challenging, and then not be able to do it. It’s hard to not let my mind get in the way of my physical abilities.

 rachel c practiceRJ: Do you primarily boulder, or climb on ropes? Which do you like more?

 Rachel: I primarily climb on ropes because I prefer it to bouldering. I think I’m better at climbing on ropes than I am at bouldering, and it’s usually more my style. However, I keep working to improve my bouldering – the powerful, dynamic aspects of bouldering help me with sport climbing.

RJ: Tell us a little about the Youth Team. Why did you join? What have you learned, and how has your climbing changed or improved since you joined?

 Rachel: I joined the Youth Team because I have always thought of ROCK’n & JAM’n as my second home and I knew that I would be comfortable there. I also knew it would help me to be a better climber. I have learned a lot about my climbing style and about myself in general, while I have mastered new technical skills. My climbing has improved because I have learned what I’m capable of and what I have the potential to do. Since I have joined the team, I have been working on being more fearless when I climb and it has improved my climbing greatly.

RJ: Do you participate (or have you in the past) in any other school or extracurricular activities besides climbing? If so, how does climbing compare?

 Rachel: I do not participate in any other activities besides climbing, but I am a member of the club climbing team at my school that competes in the Colorado High School Climbing League. Although it is still climbing, it is a lot different. It’s less serious and the people on the team are a lot less committed. The competitive atmosphere is different with my school team because most of them have a different primary sport that isn’t climbing, so they don’t care as much as I do, or the rest of the people on the RJ teams.

 RJ: Do kids at your school ever ask you about climbing? If so, what do you tell them?

Rachel: Most kids at school are shocked to find out that climbing is in fact a “real” sport and that it’s possible to be on a real climbing team that competes. Most of them assume that it’s just a hobby, and they ask me if climbing is the only thing I do. I tell them that climbing is my only sport and that I compete often. They don’t understand how a climbing competition works, and I have to be careful to explain it without using climbing lingo that they wouldn’t understand.

RJ: Do you have any climbing goals? What are they?

 Rachel: I have many climbing goals. One of them is to get in the habit of using what I know about climbing while I’m climbing. I often forget what I’m capable of mid-route, and don’t use the skills I know and have practiced. Another one of my goals is to have a better mindset while competing and climbing in general. My head often gets in the way of my climbing. In competitions, I want to be able to perform at higher and higher levels, and exceed my past performances.

RJ: You participated in several climbing competitions this year with the Youth Team. What is it like, climbing in a comp?

Rachel: Comps can be very stressful. It’s a chance to show everything you’re capable of and everything you’ve learned. Since I’ve joined the team, I find that it’s a bit easier when you have such a great team of people supporting you. It’s easy to let the stress of the comp deter your climbing, and it takes a lot to practice for climbing in comps, as it’s very different than climbing on your own. The team has helped me to realize my competitive nature and my love for competing.

RJ: Do you have any climbing heroes? If so, who are they?

 Rachel: I don’t pay attention too much to professional climbers, and I don’t know very many of them. I would say that my climbing heroes would be my coaches, Corey and Dustyn, because they’ve helped me realize my talents and they strengthen my love for climbing.

rachel c outsideRJ: Most climbers get amazingly hungry after a climbing session. We’ve heard of everything from chocolate milk, to chips and salsa. What is your favorite post-climbing food?

 Rachel: Usually after I climb I get really thirsty and I drink chocolate milk with extra protein in it. I never eat while I climb, so afterwards I get so hungry that I’ll eat anything! I also love all kinds of pasta.

 RJ: Thanks for sharing some of your thoughts about climbing with us Rachel! We hope all your hard training pays off with great success during your next semester on the Youth Team!