A vast majority of our youth athletes start at very young ages and continue their outdoor journey at BEA until they reach the age of 19. After starting at BEA, our staff become more than just coaches or employees, we become mentors to the next generation of outdoor pioneers. Since our founding in 2009, we have witnessed the growth of thousands of these athletes to become incredible community members, confident young adults, and overall inspired outdoors men and women. So what happens to these young adults when they leave BEA, and continue their journey on their own?
Forrest Franklin is a 19 year old BEA rock climbing alumni who is currently living in his Chevy Astro Van traveling the west coast in search of new relationships and the best stone around. Forrest started
at BEA when he was eleven years old after he walked into the Bend Rock Gym and watched a group of motivated and an incredibly strong group of BEA climbers. Forrest told us that this moment was the reason he was drawn to BEA. He wanted to be a part of a community that was excited about a sport, a community that would give him direction to reach his rock climbing goals, and ultimately meet new people that held the same values as himself. After Forrest joined the competition rock climbing team, Forrest realized that this community was not limited to just BEA, he was able to connect with the entire rock climbing community. He managed to meet new people from Bend, travel all around the Pacific NorthWest, and meet young athletes just like himself.
Forrest made it apparent that his coaches, Mike Rougeux and Brady Kendrick, made rock climbing fun and exciting, they would train him to become a better athlete, but in a way that was motivating and thought provoking. The coaches at BEA, do not just promote technical strength or solely train you to become the next world class athlete, they work with the goals that each individual wants to achieve. In rock climbing specifically, Forrest never felt overworked, burned out, or bored with practices, he was always excited to walk in the gym because he knew that each practice was unique and tailored to his specific goals. We asked Forrest, “Why do you think coaches are so important in sports?”. Forrest told us that,
“Any coach can give you technical training or go over the basics, but BEA coaches were able to give me a solid direction, especially since I was so young when I started. They made me psyched and motivated to put in the work on my own time and that resonated with me the most”.
Fast forward to 2021, Forrest is currently in Joshua
Tree, California, enjoying pristine granite rock, meeting a vast array of new friends, and genuinely enjoying his time outside. Now that he is a BEA alumni, Forrest has all of the tools he needs to learn in different environments, and ultimately continue to succeed in the sport he loves. As we continued our conversation, Forrest talked about his journey across the west coast, but was surprisingly not sure if he would be where he is today without the guidance of BEA. He feels that he would still be a rock climber, but BEA motivated him to go outside of his comfort zone, explore different areas and types of rock climbing, and give him more worldly experiences. As he continues to travel in his van, Forrest has plans to continue this lifestyle for the foreseeable future, hopefully driving back to Bend to see his family and work as a Wildland Firefighter throughout the fire season. On the other hand, he is keeping his mind open to new job opportunities in other areas that he visits and hopes he can always spend a few months out of the year traveling to rock climb.
At BEA, we want to continue our relationship with our youth athletes even if they are not a part of the academy any more. Even though Forrest is aged out of BEA, he let us know that he always feels welcome back to hop in at a practice, comfortable supporting or participating in any BEA events, and can come to coaches for any advice. We value our athletes on a lifelong scale, we want alumni to feel that they are still integrated within our small community and provide them with as many opportunities as possible.
A little bit more about Forrest…
Forrest Franklin is an overall accomplished rock climber who has bouldered up to V12, sport climbed up to 5.12d, and recently climbed his very first 5.13a trad climb in Joshua Tree. Forrest also likes to spend his time fly fishing, snowboarding in the backcountry, and ran track throughout all of highschool. If you do happen to see this mysterious man climbing the hardest climb at the crag, wish him luck on his journey to becoming a Wildland Firefighter!
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