Ella and I made a quick trip to Atlanta so she could climb in Divisionals, which is the competition that decides who makes it to Nationals. Quite honestly, I didn’t have any great expectations about Ella’s climbing. She missed a lot of practices during the past month due to moving, illness, holidays and meltdowns. She is also in a new age group, which means she’s climbing against girls who are almost two years older than she is.
Saturday’s round got off to a rough start. Ella wasn’t able to finish her first route despite repeated attempts, and that seemed to throw her off her game. Her second and third routes were trainwrecks. I watched through my fingers. Before her fourth route, Ella sat in the waiting area with tears running down her face. I wanted to go get her and tell her she didn’t need to climb anymore. Instead, I promised hot chocolate when she finished, which got a teeny smile.
Apparently the promise of hot chocolate really works, because she climbed great and finished the route; one of the few girls to do it.
She finished convinced she was in last place and wouldn’t be climbing in finals on Sunday. When Ella asked what we’d do on Sunday instead of climbing in finals, I said we’d go hiking at Stone Mountain, which kept her quiet for a while.
I also talked to her about the fact that she’s in a new age group and is climbing against older girls and that Divisionals is supposed to be hard. She didn’t buy it.
Fortunately, she placed 7th, which moved her on to finals on Sunday with a clean slate. All of Saturday’s scores were erased and the kids started from scratch. At dinner Saturday night, Ella’s coach told her she needed to step it up for finals, and she just hid under the table.
Ella had a bit of meltdown while getting ready on Sunday when she discovered that I hadn’t packed the correct lucky socks. Fortunately she decided that wearing a mismatched pair of my hand-knit socks would be good enough.
And boy howdy was it.
She came out on the floor with her game face on and proceeded to climb like a rock star. She finished her first route on her second try and finished her second route on her first try. The girls before and after had trouble with both routes. On the third, she climbed to within one move of finishing and fell, but she kept trying. I was amazed at how calm she was considering the tears the day before.
Once Ella was finished, we just had to sit and wait for the scores, which was painful. She was convinced she was last. I figured her to be in the top five. But all we really cared about was that she was in the top 7 so she could go through to Nationals.
When the announcer called out that the results were posted, a stampede of excited kids and parents rushed the entry of the gym. Ella came back with a huge, kind of embarrassed smile. She got second place!
I was so relieved. But honestly, I gained a lot more gray hair this weekend.
I would have been happy with however Ella placed on Sunday, because I know she climbed her best and left nothing on the wall. But having her place so well is like icing on the cake.
So now we register for nationals and make preparations to go to Colorado Springs in March.