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We catch up with WCS Coach Suzan Dudink

"The WCS is still one of my favourite days to coach at. I'm often working hard, but I'm so so lucky to be able to say my job is also my hobby. I'm not sure many people can."

1. How many years have you been involved with WCS?

I've coached at all but the first one in Liverpool (Andy was still in hospital back then and Amber was too little for me to leave her alone too long). So, as of 2016, 4 years in total (London, Edinburgh, Sheffield and Manchester), phew :).

2. How has WCS changed in that time?

The goody bag composition increased substantially over the just kidding (although it probably has)! I'd say the WCS has and hasn't changed over the last 4 years. It has become a bigger and more established (almost more professional) event: e.g. more people are involved in the organisation, the number of participants seems to grow, there are more varied workshops available, the venues seem to become bigger each year, there's more advertisement for the event (I.e. more people know about it), it feels like there are more sponsors involved etc.

But most things haven't changed; after my first coaching WCS workshops in 2012 I got home super psyched, motivated, inspired and wowed by all these amazing people I met and coached. Now, 4 years later I still get inspired and wowed by all the people I meet, and (like all previous years), I left the WCS with loads of psyche and motivation. The WCS for me, is and has always been one of the nicest coaching days of the year. I always look forward to it and it's such positive experience.

3. And the women's climbing scene as a whole?

Tricky question. From a 'gut' feeling point of few (no statistics or research involved ;)), over the years I've noticed more women at the wall and at the crag. And a lot of these women seem to climb because they want to climb (not because their partner climbs and they 'tag on'). Again, I'm not sure if this it true but it also feels like performances of women are acknowledged more nowadays (or this might just be because more woman are doing awesome things nowadays).

Suz coaching at WCS15

4. What were your favourite moments of WCS16?

Oooo....I'm always so involved with the sessions I run, that I unfortunately hardly see/ hear anything else during the symposium but there are loads of memorable moments from pre- during -and post workshops. E.g. I'll always remember the sleepovers in the climbing walls with the rest of the coaches (e.g. The sleepover in the The Arch was especially memorable, with the cleaner cleaning under our pillows at 3am in the morning :)). And I'll never forget the fun we have in preparation of the WCS (e.g. the last two years I have laughed so much with Katherine in preparation of our workshop).

The 'ahhhh' moments of the girls during the workshops are always super rewarding and therefore memorable (it's so nice seeing someone learn in front on your eyes). And I'll never forget the nice feedback we receive. This year I got a very nice personal message after the WCS of one of the girls who participated in our workshop. Being able to inspire someone is pretty special I think.

5. What are your goals for the next year?

Big question. For the WCS: motivate more girls to stay motivated and psyched by sharing my knowledge with them. Personally: I'd like to keep developing myself as coach and climber and I always want to be there for Amber (that's a never ending goal :)). Finishing the performance coach pathway will help me develop as coach, and so will my new position at the university (as lecturer in sport psychology). The Dutch are developing a similar climbing coach pathway at the moment, so it would be nice to stay involved with that as well.

Suz and Amber in the #wcs16 countdown!

Amber and I are 'developing' a kids climbing guide for an area in Northumberland, it would be great if we can continue 'working' on that next year (I love our after school climbing picnic days :)). Also, I've started athletics again (I used to do track and field before I started climbing at 21yrs of age). I'm planning to compete in javelin next season (as a vet :/ ) and I don't like to loose, so it's a big goal......;) And I'd obviously love to go on a few climbing trips next year and push myself to my limits...

6. And you have a top tip for the WCS community?

Yes, Don't let go. HOLD ON! Hold on to your dreams, hold on to what motivates you, hold on to the people that care for -and about you, hold on to that what makes you happy and (move your feet and) hold on to the really is that simple. Just don't let go, whatever you do just hold on :).


Originally from Holland, Suz started her sporting life in athletics. When she was 21 she discovered climbing, and was hooked for ‘life’. When she moved over to England in 2008 climbing became a bigger part of her life - both personal and professional. Together with her partner Andy Earl she travelled the world, developed climbing areas and helped building up Climb Newcastle, sharing the podium with Adam Ondra and becoming one of the first females to boulder F8a+ ;).

Because circumstances changed, Suz started to focus more on the coaching and route-setting side of climbing, and set up 'UpgradeClimbing'. She works for the Sport Science Department at Sunderland University where she teaches Sport Psychology and takes her students climbing in the name of science!


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