Students seek to bring a climbing wall to Knox

A new climbing wall for Knox? The answer may be yes if freshman Ben Robbins has any say in it. Robbins has been working with Knox officers, alumni, students, senate, and safety personnel to push to make this a reality. The latest survey Robbins created had 300 votes expressiong a strong desire for a rock wall.

Robbins approached senate with the survey, and at first their response was not positive, they “think of everything in the administration’s eyes” rather than what the students want, said Robbins. However when put to a vote all but one of the senators voted in favor it. The project was put on the “level 3” funding list, meaning it is a project alumni can sponsor and have their names attributed to. Robbins hopes that if students show their support for the project it will garner alumni support.

According to Robbins there was a plan to build a rock wall in the space that is now occupied by workout machines, the plan was sacked due to poor planning and the money funneled to other projects.

Robbins wants to avoid this happening with his rock wall project proposal. He plans to “set up a well fleshed out project before building is done.” He predicts the building costs around 200,000 dollars. This would be for a 38-40 foot wall fashioned with differing styles of climbing rock. The possible location for the wall is still being debated.

Robbins has also looked into possible insurance and liability costs.

“Insurance wise, this is definitely workable,” he said, “there are other schools [with rock walls] with the same insurance plan.”

He also said that if the school goes above and beyond the safety protocols, then there is no way they can be sued.

“Climbing indoors is one of the safest [sports],” said Robbins.

According to Robbins, many schools, both private and public and high schools, now have climbing walls.

“Monmouth has one,” said Robbins. “It’s becoming standard, and Knox is falling behind.”

“The school is only helped by this,” said Robbins, this kind of thing could serve as a “memory jogger for potential students.”

Robbins has been climbing since his sophomore year in high school. That was when he started participating in his school’s outdoor club. By his senior year he was in charge of the climbing sector of the club. Robbins also worked as a manager for an elite rock gym, The Fitness Formula Club (FCC) in Chicago. There he was in charge of setting up the walls, hiring employees, liabilities, rules, and more. Robbins said that he would do this kind of work again if Knox was to get a wall.

Robbins stressed how rock climbing wouls provide more to students than the traditional sport and gym equipment currently offered. He believes it is great for non-athletes and athletes alike as it is a personal sport that builds strong lean muscle.

“Anyone can climb,” said Robbins. “It feels like you’re playing, except you’re working out really hard… It’s the greatest sport on earth because you can get into incredible shape by just playing.”

Robbins also sees the potential for artists to use the large wall space to display their art. He also sees Greek life and other clubs taking advantage of the wall for group events.

Outdoors club, which recently made a trip off campus to go climbing, would be especially enticed by this. Kathleen Beeson, president of outdoors club, said that there are many benefits of having a climbing wall, both to improve balance, strength, and creativity, as well as providing a flexible workout, one that can be pursued in a number of ways since there is no defined way of how to climb the wall. Robbins adds that rock walls work on skills like trust and team building, as well as creating a personal challenge.

“When you climb you’re very much pushing yourself,” said Robbins.

“Climbing is such a priority,” said Robbins, adding he would quit other activities to help people and train. “Anyone here who wants to get better…I will help them.”

Although Dean of Students Xavier Romano likes and supports the idea of a climbing wall, he also notes there are other concerns, and finances have to be prioritized.

“While in support of a climbing wall, I am also in support of an aquatic center or a renovated dance facility” he said.

Klayr Valentine-Fossum

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