Will Hammersla of Victoria was appointed National Coach by Sport Climbing Australia on 1 January.
The 26-year-old is an experienced coach. Hammersla started coaching young kids at local football clubs before taking on Bayside Rock Climbing Gym’s Development Squad (the gym’s top performers) in about 2011. The following year, he progressed to coaching Bayside’s Junior Team, and in 2013 formed and coached the Victorian State Team.
“One of the things I really want to focus on is supporting Open athletes,” says Hammersla. “That means getting them to training camps, sessions and involved in coaching the younger athletes and the progression of the sport at a competition level.”
Hammersla also envisions building a support network for state and regional coaches. “One person can only do so much, but if that one person can empower 20 people across the nation, we’ll have much better coaching being delivered to athletes at their home gyms,” he says.
At this year’s National Youth Team Tryouts being held at Bayside Rock Climbing Gym in Carrum Downs, Victoria, on 28-29 March, he’s holding a National Coaches’ Conference. “I want to get all coaches in the same room so we can talk about what visions we have individually,” he says.
Hammersla also hopes to reach out to athletes living in far-flung towns. “We have the opportunity to harness the digital age by providing online resources to athletes, especially those who live in remote areas,” he says. Hammersla has athletes in the Northern Territory that he’s hoping to train by correspondence: “It’s really about embracing the digital concept and providing resources for everybody everywhere in Australia.”
On 23-25 January, a National Youth Training Camp will be held at Bayside Rock where participants can experience climbing to the standard that will be set at the National Youth Team Tryouts in March, where young kids will vie for a spot on the National Team.
“My advice for young climbers trying to get on the team is, if you want to climb hard, you have to try. Athletes don’t get strong by only repetitively climbing at grades below their maximum. You have to really push your boundaries,” he says. “If you never get on a hard climb, you’re never going to climb it. So don’t be afraid.”
Hammersla originally hails from Iowa, United States, but has been living in Australia for the past 16 years. Outdoors, he has onsighted grade 26 in the Grampians, Victoria, and bouldered V10.
Photo by James Kassay