Southern Miss Recreational Sports officially opened its climbing wall and fitness stations at a ribbon cutting ceremony Wednesday afternoon in the Payne Center atrium.
The Southern Miss Payne Center houses the tallest rock climbing wall in the state. The wall and fitness stations on the trail outside the center were contracted with B.W. Sullivan, Entre Prises and Gym-Worx. Director of Recreational Sports Mark Crager opened the ribbon cutting ceremony with thanks to the contractors and staff that helped make the center’s dream of the wall a reality.
The climbing wall inside the Payne Center atrium measures 30 feet tall and 40 feet wide with climbing routes that accommodate beginner to intermediate and more advanced climbers.
The fitness stations are located just outside the Payne Center on the Bruce and Virginia Wilgus Fitness and Wellness Trail. The trail includes seven stations that offer a variety of exercise.
A representative from Blue Cross & Blue Shield said the wall will enrich students’ educational experiences and that health and wellness comes hand in hand with education.
Yesterday’s events included a climbing wall ribbon cutting followed by a fitness station ribbon cutting. Ever since its opening, every wall climbing rope has been in full nonstop use. Staff equipped for the wall have been training every day for a week, three or more hours a day.
“We’ve had extensive hours of training for this because it is a dangerous thing to do,” said sophomore marine biology major Ashlynd Smith. “It’s super fun and is a great workout.”
After signing a waiver and getting harnessed, patrons are free to climb the wall.
Bethany Vicknair, sophomore recreational therapy major, harnesses patrons on the climbing wall.
“It’s an exciting job and a great workout,” she said. “We had a lot of people come to the opening ceremony. We had a line as soon as we officially pened it. We had a few more people come back already within a few hours.”
Patrons can be new to the rock climbing experience and still climb.
“We are a trained staff and can help anyone,” Vicknair said.
Sophomore computer engineering major Jamal Fluellen is a part of the Payne Center staff and said his rock climbing experience was challenging.
“The closer you got to the top, the harder it got,” Fluellen said. “You kind of feel like an airhead when you get to the top, because you don’t know what to do in a sense.”
He said the wall will create a sense of competitiveness among the students.
“People will compete to see who can climb it faster,” Fluellen said. “Staff will get to embrace their youth.”
Crager voiced how much the students have been wanting the wall and displayed his pride in and appreciation in the accomplishment of building the wall and fitness stations.