Little known sports and clubs fight to gain recognition, success

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Sophomore Max Collins climbs at the March 7 Climbing Club meeting at Vertical Adventures in Worthington. The club meets every few weeks on Sundays.

By Noah Grumman

They don’t draw huge crowds or sell out games. They don’t get all the recognition or attention, but many under-the-radar sports and clubs play for simply the love of the sport and fun of winning.

Climbing Club

For sophomore Tim Corrigan, leader of the recently created Climbing Club, his love of the sport was one of the main reasons for starting the club.

“I want to introduce the sport to the community,” Corrigan said. “I want to get it out there, because I know people will like it.”

There is not much that could be called a mountain in the Columbus area, but Ohio’s lack of terrain is not a problem for the club. With social studies teacher Nathan Palmer as the adviser, the club has attracted interest among students and has had several indoor rock climbing sessions this winter and spring.

Club members climb indoors every few Sundays at Vertical Adventures in Worthington. The facility allows for both top rope climbing with a harness, and bouldering without a harness but with foam pads underneath.

“Vertical Adventures really has a range of routes for everyone who’s from beginning level to amazing climber,” Corrigan said. “[And climbing is] a sport where you can go in and try and you’ll find success somewhere.”

Corrigan, who started rock climbing at age 7, is nationally ranked in climbing, and regularly trains and competes in the sport. Corrigan leads the club’s sessions with Palmer, who climbed regularly in college and has enjoyed the sport ever since.

Eventually, the club would like to try an outdoor climbing trip to somewhere like Red River Gorge. But for now, club members cannot climb outside because of liability issues, according to Palmer. For those interested in joining, a lack of climbing experience is not a problem. The point of the club is to learn.

“If you’ve never been climbing, you’ll get your gear and some basic [information], like, ‘Here’s how you belay, Here’s how you can keep yourself safe,’” Corrigan said. “And then you can just go for it.”

Fencing Club

Fencing club, with around 30 members, is another under-the-radar club fighting for recognition at UAHS. It may appear to be a free-for-all battle with metal swords, but junior Izzy Esler can attest to the strategy, skill and strength it requires.

“A lot of people call it ‘physical chess’,” Esler said. “It’s mental and based on reflex and kind of plotting things out.”

While it may appear violent, injuries in the sport are uncommon, Esler said.

“There are bruises, but there’s lots of padding so bad injuries are really rare,” she said.

It is uncommon fpr high schools in Ohio to even have fencing as a club, according to Esler, but the fencing program at UAHS has about 30 members. Coached by UA police officer Don Stanko, the team practices twice a week and competes in a tournament roughly once a month.

Practice usually consists of strength and speed training, drills and then the rest is devoted to actually fencing.

Several UAHS fencers recently competed in the Junior Olympics of fencing, including sophomore Nick Mohr.

“I wanted to go because it’s a lot of fun fencing people who are often much better than you,” Mohr said. “[The Junior Olympics] is challenging, because you’re [competing] against great young fencers from all over the U.S.”

And the sport is on the rise in America, according to Esler.

“[The U.S.] did well in the Olympics two years ago and got the top three spots,” Esler said. “I feel like in America, it’s getting a little more popular.”

Diving

Another popular Olympic sport, diving, is also at UAHS. Though small in numbers, the girls diving team has had no lack of success this season. Though the team has only six divers, together with the swim team, the girls recently won their sixth straight Division I State Championship. Divers earn points toward the swim team total in competition and act as a separate part of the swim team.

According to junior Jordan Russell, much of the training is not done in the pool. Instead, it is done on trampolines and in the gym with strength training a large part of practice. Leg strength is especially important in order to get enough power off of the diving board.

“It takes a lot of practice,” she said. “And you have to be able to flip really fast.”

All in all, the team ended the season on a high note.

“We actually had a really good season,” Russell said.

Though these teams and clubs may not attract as much attention as others do, these students still pursue their passions with dedication.