First and foremost, I’m thrilled to announce I’ve been invited back by Metro Rock Climbing Centers as the official emcee of their upcoming “Iron Maiden Season Two | All Female Bouldering Competition” taking place this Saturday, February 28 at the Everett, MA location. Thank you Metro Rock—I’m super psyched! And anyone interested in learning more, check out: http://climbironmaiden.com.
I’m equally thrilled to have recently worked MetroRock’s “Dark Horse Bouldering Series” finals in late January. While there I was able to see both male AND female pro climber crushes of mine! These climbers are both young and middle-aged… all seasoned, agile, giving it a whirl, defying gravity, superseding physical capabilities and showcasing their uniquely creative ways to move up the challenging routes devised by Metro Rock’s cache of setting magicians. It was a SUCH a great day. Check out some of the highlights at: http://darkhorseseries.com.
Oh, Alex Puccio
...Wait. Lisa, did you just write the word “crushes” about female pros…?
That I did. About a week ago I saw a video online of female pro climber Alex Puccio—who a girlfriend of mine crushes on—sending her first V14. (Check out the video yourself!) I forwarded the clip to my friend Emily with a teasing comment. Then I thought, “Wait, I have female pro crushes too. Will Emily think I’m making fun of her by sending this? …Because I’m not!”
Because I DO have them, and probably more so than I crush on guys. But, as a woman, I feel to crush on a pro female climber is different.
But how is it different, Lisa?
Well, there isn’t just one thing. I have always looked up to athletes, men and women alike. After Title IX* went into effect June 21, 1975, more women the world over began to emerge on “the scene”. I watched, …and I followed. They were dynamic—alive with an energy that was radiant and commanding. Accomplishments were attained by women in ways I never imagined possible. And they represented a possibility inside me… silently motivating me to push my performance beyond my own limits.
*Title IX is a landmark federal civil right that prohibits sex discrimination.
Growing Up Sporty
As I said, I’ve always had crushes. It started with Wonder Woman and The Bionic Woman. Both cool, obviously, but they’re fictional characters. Then organized sports came into my life along with new crushes like tennis stars Billy Jean King and Martina Navratilova and gymnast phenom Nadia Comaneci. (Though I feel the need here to note I wasn’t graceful or flexible, and, in fact, my tennis coach told me to stick to contact sports. Ha!)
I participated in what I was good at… and what I ENJOYED. Sometimes it was football… sometimes soccer… even basketball (yep, contact sports)… and baseball, softball, floor hockey and track. But all of these were typically sports I played only with the boys. It was different somehow. All through my early years I didn’t have an option to participate in exclusively-girl sports… until high school.
When I started playing “girl” sports, it was interesting. Subconsciously my approach to sports changed. It was no longer “Lisa alone, against the boys”. In fact, with the girls, the concept never even crossed my mind to compete, compare, rival, put down or go up-against one of my fellow female counterparts. Thankfully, none of my energy went to competing against my teammates. Instead, I slowly began to learn the nature of competition. Some compete against themselves, others against anyone around them. I believed in being a part of a team—and still do. Competing against the opposing team? HELL YES. But always in the name of winning a game vs. losing a game. Because that’s what it is,… A GAME.
I remember the first time the issue of competing directly against a teammate presented itself. A close friend on my track team wanted to race me. “No, we’re on the same team. I run the first leg, you run the second!” I said, shocked. I loved running with her. It was crazy glee. We would get through “our” training runs (sometimes through a cemetery, including a stop at a friend’s house, maybe visit my Dad at work) and then go off and play…. flipping over the high jump bar, taking diggers over the hurdles... Oh man, so much fun!
Who does that?
A bunch of silly high school girls, that’s who… J
AND we would win all of our races (cherry on top)! In fact, our 4x400 team set a state record. I ran the first leg and then watched the final three girls run. WOWWWW. I had the shortest legs on the team, they had longgggg legs. Their one stride was two of mine, hands down. It’s all I would think while running (seemingly in slow-mo) down the last 25 meters of a race. “Come on Lisa… longggg strides, come on! …Long like Kim’s, like Laurie’s, like Suzie’s…”
For the first time, I was an individual whose performance directly impacted and contributed to a team. The voice inside me pushed me to dig deep, down to a level I never knew existed. …And I loved it.
Do you think about that now, when you’re climbing, hiking, running, stadium climbing, lifting weights?
Not really. A few other things come to mind these days, oscillations of the day’s upcoming activities, made-up fears, and celebrated outcomes. It all depends on what voice I decide to tune into and listen.
“Hey… I Can Do That”
Do you mean you don’t learn anything from watching and engaging with men?
No, I love watching and learning from men too!
As of late, I hear and see things differently. As a woman who has spent many, many years living with, working alongside, participating in sports and enjoying life with men, I can say as a female “athlete” my experience has been different. My interpretation, perception, performance, residual feelings, issues and takeaway’s are mine, all subject to a long list of internal and external influences. It may go without saying, but this is everyone’s truth.
I may crush on a pro female __________ (insert sport here) because I see eye-to-eye with her on things that come up for me while participating in the same sport—things that may not come up for a man in the same situation. Good, bad, or indifferent, it’s more than likely two females are going to hear and see things in “their sport” in a very similar way. For me, this way seems easier for us, as female athletes, so we can comprehend, interpret, manage and make our own way—to better ourselves and more thoroughly enjoy our journey—in this crazy world of sports. It’s not just “the boys’ way” anymore.
I listened to a podcast recently about a pro female climber Steph Davis and how she trains for the Alpine. I heard the points she made much more distinctly than I think I would have heard a pro male say the same exact things. And my thought process was, similar to the way I watched my childhood heroines,… “Hey, I can do that!” It wasn’t a forced thought, mind you. I connected with her. The positive thought of me doing what she did just… just… came to mind.
Is THIS why you crush on female pros like Alex Puccio?
No idea. …Would you be happier if I said it was because she’s hot? Okay, I’ll say it, she’s HOT!
Making It Happen
Listen. What matters most, as an athlete, is that the information you seek—the information that will better your individual performance needs—actually gets through to you. When it does, it will keep you connected to what you enjoy, help you perform, give you a chance to learn more about yourself and other people, and show you how a small part of the world works. And I’m thinking we ladies need to listen to other ladies—because we’re on a similar journey.
Sure, there are books upon books on “how to do X”… but is that the same as watching someone make it happen? Imagine only being able to read about someone’s performance… Is it the same? …Nope. Not even close. Even if THEY read the same book, or better yet, even if they wrote the book, it just isn’t the same. Heck, if you need to watch a man, woman, tree or praying mantis… and if fixating or obsessing (in a healthy manner!) on them helps you wrap your head around a skill or activity you love? …This is the kind of “crush” I’m talking about. …It’s so much bigger than “hot or not”.
For me, to watch someone—a woman who is my height, my body type, determined like me—crush a climb everyone thought was only “for the boys”? It’s enthralling. And when I get on the wall next, you better believe I’m gonna crush too.