Every winter, a band of Skutt Catholic students straps on earmuffs and tennis shoes to go for 30 minute runs in freezing temperatures. By choice.
Unthinkable, right? Well, not for this group. The hard core individuals in Rock Climbing Club are willing to brave frigid conditions in what can only be described as winter cross-country.
Rock Climbing Club, despite its name, is mainly about running. Members meet after school on almost every school day during the months of December through February to go for runs and to work out with other members. The club is often used as an optional form of conditioning for track or other spring sports.
So how do all of these Rock Climbers rise above the chilly conditions? It’s not easy, but they keep tough and bundle up. “We have to wear lots of coats, gloves, and hats, but running helps warm us up,” sophomore Megan Kanger says. “Last week there was one or two really cold days where the wind was blowing really badly, but you just have to run through it.”
Sophomore Thomas Baumert concurs: “Running is definitely tougher in the cold weather. It’s kind of brutal.” However, Baumert remains positive and says, “But I still like running, and Rock Climbing Club lets me do that.”
Now, you might be thinking that the title of the club is altogether misleading. And it is, but “Winter Cross Country” doesn’t have quite the same pizazz. The club was named for the trips to the UNO rock climbing wall that members take every couple weeks.
A few years ago, a member suggested that the club be named after these rock climbs. According to Rock Climbing Club advisor Joe Elliott, “The name sounded cool, and it stuck.” In order to attend one of the climbs, a member must go for at least ten runs.
When they reach the 10-run mark, members get to pick an ‘officer title,’ a generally humorous nickname. Some highlights of this year’s officer names include Blake Manternach as “Honey Badger,” Maria LaSala as “Nemo,” and Thomas Baumert as “Yung Boi.”
With around 30 attendees every day, the club must somehow give its members pretty legitimate motivation for running in the frigid weather. The runners’ reasons are many and varied. “I do it to condition for track and have fun with my friends,” Thomas Baumert says. Senior Brett Manternach is in Rock Climbing Club because it’s become like a family to him; “The act of doing something really tough as a group brings you together,” he says. The club’s advisor has a more sentimental outlook: “My favorite thing about the club is the sense of accomplishment,” Elliott says. “It’s not pleasant, but when you’re done running you’re like, ‘dang, that was a thing, I knocked that out.'”
Winter running may seem insane, but the dedication of Rock Climbing Club members is undeniable. In the midst of the crazy and fickle Nebraska weather, there’s sure to be one constant this winter: a group of hat-, glove-, and sneaker-clad running fanatics calling themselves Rock Climbers