News From Masters

Eighth Grader Finds Passion on Climbing Wall
Posted 06/08/2018 08:00AM

On a whim a few years ago, eighth grader Isaac Leff decided to visit The Rock Club, a rock climbing gym in New Rochelle, NY. Needless to say, it was love at first sight. 

"That first day I was climbing there just happened to be a competition going on," Leff recalled. "I saw it and thought it looked pretty cool. I started coming back to the club and kept on practicing."

Leff proved to be a natural, combining laser focus and a strong work ethic to carve out a reputation in the sport. He competes in three different styles of climbing — sport, speed and bouldering. 

"I've put a lot of time and effort in on and off the wall, training physically and mentally for competitions," said Leff, who added that some of his key training exercises are weighted pull-ups and core strengthening.

All of that hard work has paid off.

Leff captured first place at the 2017 Canadian nationals in sport climbing and second place in 2018. Other notable finishes from the past two years include a trio of U.S. regional titles — one in sport climbing, one in speed climbing and one in bouldering — and a U.S. divisional sport climbing championship. He also placed third in sport climbing at the 2017 U.S. nationals. 

Leff's endurance has allowed him to excel in the sport. He has the ability to stave off the feeling of "getting pumped" on the wall.

"You start getting this pain in your forearms and you can't engage your fingers," Leff said. "I've trained a lot so it takes me longer to get pumped and I can do a few more moves once I'm pumped."

Leff expects to be quite busy this summer, competing in a slew of events all over the country.

"Once summer starts, I'll have regionals, divisionals and then nationals in Atlanta," he said. "If I qualify, I'll have the World Championships in Moscow in August."

In the long term, Leff's ultimate goal is to climb in the adult division of the World Cup circuit.

"There are a series of World Cup competitions in different countries," he said. "I'm hoping to do that because it would be pretty fun to travel around the world and do different championships."

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