Steamboat Springs Rock climbing world-record holder Tori Allen had three pieces of advice for the Steamboat Springs Middle School eighth-graders in the campus’s packed cafeteria Thursday afternoon.
Allen sped through the pointers in the same manner she scales rock faces: fast and without cutting corners.
Make the right choices, especially when no one is looking, she said. Approach challenges like puzzles, conquering life's little pieces to form a holistic outcome.
And most of all, never give up.
As a video screen behind Allen played the History Channel’s Superhuman series feature on her unparalleled abilities — entitled “The Human Spider Monkey” — the Steamboat resident recounted how she traversed her jump from eighth-grade adolescence into young adulthood at the high school level.
“I definitely wanted to inspire them and not let them be discouraged,” Allen said afterward. “That’s an awkward phase of life. I was able to find the small positives through that awkward phase they’re all about to enter. Focus on your strength, and if you haven’t found it yet, find that strength.”
Allen’s video and speech presentation was succeeded by a demonstration of what propelled her to the world’s elite, climbing 50-foot faces at the X Games in a little more than 13 seconds for a gold medal and record time.
She sprinted up the middle school climbing wall just like she did in the History Channel feature, cruising up the school's recreational tool built about 15 years ago, which was a vision of Matt Tredway, the founder of the Everything Outdoors Steamboat program.
Tredway stood at the base of the wall, with dozens of eighth-graders behind him, beaming up at Allen’s ability. Next to Allen on the climbing wall is a plaque dedicated to Tredway for founding it in conjunction with EOS in the late 1990s.
His vision for the program was simple: Get area youths to enjoy non-gym sports in Colorado’s vast backyard.
“The truth is, you have no idea the impact of that,” Tredway said about youngsters getting a taste of recreation. “This is a life sport. Guarantee it, every one of those kids will think about Tori the next time they climb this wall.”
EOS has evolved from the ground up, with little financial support outside its primary fundraisers. It started with a climbing wall, but now features a wide variety of recreational activities year round, such as ice climbing, horseback riding or igloo building.
It also brings in speakers to campus, like Allen, to share their stories and hopefully inspire students to get out and get active.
“Tori wasn’t the popular kid (in grade school) and it wasn’t always easy, but she brought to our kids that face of youth and possibility,” Tredway said. “She has this hidden strength and confidence. I saw all of these kids light up.”
The program builds its foundation on "life sports." Tredway, who grew up a competitive wrestler, sees it as something for students to continue participating in even when school is a thing of the past.
Take Allen, for instance, he said. At age 25, she’s a living example that the transition from middle school to high school doesn’t have to be a rough one. It can be where a life of recreating begins, no matter the day or location.
“This is a lifetime sport and these kids are seeing the very best there is,” Tredway said. “Wherever they’re at, they are capable of excelling to points unknown.”
To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll