John McDonough has spent his life rising to meet outdoor challenges. Years ago he began traveling the globe as a skier and rock climber, finding adventure and challenges on faraway mountains and snowy cliffs. After more than two decades on skis and 15 years scaling rocks, the AMGA Certified Single-Pitch Instructor??who once accompanied an inspiring group of blind climbers on a trip??now operates First Ascent Mountain School. The gig comes with the daily pleasure of watching beginners submit to the powerful sense of awe and accomplishment that comes with mountaineering. As First Ascent's founding director, John has assembled a small band of professional mountain guides who shared his zeal for nature and teaching. The crew touts a penchant for making the sometimes-intimidating activities of rock-terrain climbing and snowshoeing accessible to anyone who is interested.
Pikes Peak Athletics founders Anna and George Heidinger are a real power couple: he's worked for years as a strength conditioning and swim trainer, she as a swim club coach and former Olympic Trails qualifier. But their decades of aquatic achievement haven't made them narrowly focused swimmers whose skin starts shriveling on dry land. In small-group and private lessons, they view even the most advanced students not as swimmers but as "people who swim," and, consequently, take a relationship-first approach to instruction.
The Heidingers are aided by a squad of experienced junior and senior coaches, each certified in CPR, first aid, and water safety—and each extensively shadowed by a head instructor and a benevolent water spirit before being turned loose to instruct on their own. Beyond basic lessons and intensive coaching, staff also organize seasonal swim teams, and lead an annual swim camp that helps students hone the four major strokes and other aquatic competition skills using video playback.
Through their event promotion and community outreach, the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation dedicates their time to recognizing local athletes and coaches, as well as improving lives of the region's citizens. Serving as a liaison between civic leaders and sporting organizations, the 501(c)3 non-profit organization has helped stage events that include State Games of America, U.S. Women's Open, USA Pro Challenge, and the Rocky Mountain State Games.
Admitting Colorado residents of all ages and athletic abilities, the Rocky Mountain State Games is a multi-sport festival recognized by the NCAA. Organized and managed by the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, approximately 9,000 athletes complete across 40 venues that include Memorial Park, Colorado College and others in the Pikes Peak Region. The State Games concept was developed in New York with the 1978 Empire State Games. Today, more than 400,000 athletes each year compete in State Games nationwide, including those with physical disabilities and visual impairment. State Games feature various sports from Pan American Games programs, as well as ones with regional popularity.
When the design team Vertical Solutions entered the former church that now houses Pure Bouldering Gym, they made sure every guests' eyes would shoot upward. They created a climbing wall that leads climbers up a flowing artificial rock face that seamlessly integrates a 38-foot long bouldering cave and strength-testing overhangs, all lined with a layer of 12-inch ballistic floor padding to protect against injury. The main wall and a competition wall next door—complete with faces tilted between 2 and 65 degrees—keeps climbers entertained for days at a time, as they challenge themselves to new routes and remain on the lookout for freeloading mountain goats. Meanwhile, a staff of experienced coaches trains budding boulderers to master the climbing art, starting off with the fundamentals in The Basics class and continuing through more advanced topics in private lessons.
Master Todd Bradley has been teaching martial arts since 1986, but like his team of well-trained Kempo instructors, he never stops learning. He instills this same drive in his students at Champions Karate South, where classes boost physical fitness and self-esteem. Although the studio trains students in various international martial-arts styles, it specializes in teaching the strikes and fancy footwork of kempo, jujitsu, and the close quarter combat training of krav maga.
The enthusiastic coaches at Soccer Buddies educate youngsters on the value of physical fitness and impart much-needed confidence through drills and practices that refine fundamental skills. Lessons aim to build on the foundations of balance, agility, and coordination for budding athletes as young as 10 months old. As kids get older and their skills begin to mature, they’ll also have the chance to advance through age- and skill-appropriate classes, which increase the chance that students will be fully prepared for advanced moves such as bicycle kicks and the act of kissing a World Cup trophy. Youngsters will find new physical, cognitive, and emotional challenges at every leg of the training track, and those who excel will be eligible for an invitation to the Soccer Buddies Select class, a higher-level learning environment for competitive-minded players younger than 12.