Coaching Adult Team: A Final Gladness, Part II


Note: In August, long-time coach and guide  Zack Sawyer will be moving on from Salt Pump and New England as he pursues new adventures with his partner Suzy in the desert of southern California. Zack joined the Salt Pump team soon after we opened, and his positive attitude, lust for learning, and quirky good wit quickly became part of our D.N.A. We wish him the best of luck on the next phase of his climbing journey – and look forward to following his trajectory as he will no doubt continue to excel in his chosen field. In this blog, he reflects on the practice structure and philosophies that are the foundation of the Adult Team. 

It has been both a privilege and adventure helping coach Salt Pump’s adult team these past few years. I have learned much from my fellow dedicated coaches, and the earnest, thoughtful, and motivated Salt Pumper’s who have participated.

Athlete Spotlight

Every single participant has brought something worthwhile and very much their own into Adult Team. As we initiated this program, I was anxious about how to create a positive, supportive, and growth-orientated culture. It became quickly clear that one way is to bring people together who already share such attributes.

Jean & Farhana--Red Rocks

Jean & Farhana 

It seems easy sometimes to get lost in the training detail wormhole, arguing hangboard protocols and the like. These two gals remind us that the best way forward is often by creating simple, fun, and achievable mini goals that bring them closer to their big ones. Jean and Farhana both had the goal of leading Recompense and Hotter than Hell respectively last fall. They identified that climbing in different locations and rock types would consolidate their grades and round out their skill set (they are right). During the preceding Spring, they decided to climb at a different place each weekend (Rumney, Acadia, Gunks, Cathedral). Then they consistently made it happen. This past fall and winter they have brought this model to the national stage, climbing in the Red, T-Wall, Bishop, and Red Rocks. We look forward to seeing where this commitment to consistency and varied practice on real rock takes them this year!


Cole Corbin

Cole is a great example of someone who invested in his education and future career as a climber from the very start. He started climbing just over a year ago, joined Adult Team, and took all the classes he could, from the lead-class to our skill series. In the summer, he ventured outdoors, and it became clear—Cole was on his way to becoming a lifer. What’s particularly remarkable about Cole is his ability to zoom out and determine the ideal continuum to reach his goals, before zooming back in and repeating the details necessary to keep moving forward. It’s working—Cole is comfortably topping out blue circuit boulders, 5.11 leads, and starting to scare himself on “easy” trad too. It would not be very difficult to be mad at Cole for improving so rapidly if he was not also one of the most modest guys you could meet.


Dyland & Brooke--Acadia

Brooke & Dylan

This fun-loving duo has really embraced and thoughtfully engaged with the “nerdier” side of Adult Team. Our conversations on motor skill development, effective practice design, and learning have helped shape the Adult Team pedagogy. Brooke’s experience as a professor and Dylan’s inquisitive mind have been particularly helpful in this regard. They are not your stuffy Ivory Tower academics either! They approach each practice with brisk and cheerful readiness, eager to test, actualize, and refine their ideas. Thanks, Brooke & Dylan for showing us what the beginner’s mind and learning spirit is all about! 



Kelsey Rex

Often tired from work, our weeknight practices usually require some momentum to forget about the day and fully embrace the session’s activity. Us coaches and athletes alike appreciated the infectious and unapologetic “dream stoke” that Kelsey brought to each practice, much like she presumably brings to life. Whether it was a request for movement advice or insight into the ideal path from late-night auto belay queen to aspirant climbing guide, her perpetual process of self-advocation and reflection has been great to observe and learn from.