Salvatore Ambrosino

 A “state-of-the-art” rock wall opened at Florida Southern’s Nina B. Hollis Wellness Center (HWC) as a pandemic-proof addition to student-wellness.

The kickoff event on Jan. 26 surpassed COVID-19 capacity guidelines, forcing students to wait in lines spread out on the basketball court and outside the HWC in order to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Photo by Salvatore Ambrosino. Brandon Lu climbs the brand new rock wall in the Wellness Center on Jan. 26.

Before climbing the wall, each student must complete a waiver-on-file and a climbing orientation. Participants are provided climbing shoes provided by the HWC and are warned to follow the rules and “climb within their capabilities.”

“We will always have at least two climbing attendants on staff,” Assistant Fitness Director Doug Davey said. “Just like any other policy at the HWC, every climber must go through an orientation. They are both verbally told those policies and they also sign a release of liability.”

Davey also explained that if students break any rules, depending on the severity, they could be kicked out or potentially suspended.

“Looks really like it’s going to be an awesome experience,” freshman Alex Blankinship said. “I’m glad that the Wellness Center is expanding, able to do fun things like that and still keep us safe from COVID-19.”

The rock wall currently features beginner-to-intermediate courses. Davey explains that as more students get acclimated to the course, they may increase the difficulty.

The rock wall also premiers the addition of a lower, 12-foot wall for a rope-less activity called “free-climbing” or “bouldering.” This activity features no straps or harnesses unlike the 22-foot tall rock climbing wall, only a padded landing. 

Initially unveiled as the backdrop for Dr. Anne Kerr’s video welcoming students back for the spring semester, Kerr thanked donors Drs. Marjorie and Hal Roberts “for their continuing support of the College and the well-being of our student population” in the press release announcing the addition of the rock wall to the center.

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