Episode 12: Podiums, Petitions, and the Poopocalypse — The Assorted Adventures of Maureen Beck and Emmett Cookson

The team in repose, Emmett squatting on the left and Maureen standing in the center.

Maybe you’ve seen the award-winning film, Stumped, which introduced much of the world to adaptive climber Maureen Beck. Maybe you know that her trophy room includes numerous national titles and world championships. Perchance you’ve heard that National Geographic named Mo this year’s incredibly prestigious Adventurer of the Year. You probably know that she’s accomplished this all while being born without a left hand.

You might not know that she chairs USA Climbing’s Paraclimbing Committee or that she works diligently with Paradox Sports and the Front Range Adaptive Climbers Club. She was also responsible for the petition which tore across social media a couple weeks ago, responding to the IFSC decision to split the para- and able-bodied World Championships. Let me also notify you that, when properly motivated, she can drink whiskey like a cross-eyed sailor on leave.

She’d hate me writing this, but Mo is a fighter and a hero for our sport and it’s wide-breadth of athletes. She’d be okay with me telling you that she once punched a little boy in the nether-regions with a robot hand (she was also a little girl; I’m fairly certain she no longer punches boys in the junk).

Emmett Cookson ran a winding road from Division I college cross country to the world of competition climbing and coaching. After cutting his teeth with Justin Sjong, Emmett began coaching Mo and was eventually named USAC’s Paraclimbing Head Coach.

Although he still doesn’t know how to take a compliment, Emmett is one of the finest young coaches in the United States, expertly co-mingling pummeling workouts and good-natured ribbing with a stolid belief that his athletes can achieve far more than they imagine. He doesn’t like it when Mo eats cupcakes. He’s not sure she should pound beers with a paraclimbing team that sometimes resembles Animal House more than a squad of elite adaptive climbers. Luckily, he knows when to leave the room when a post-competition round of “tequila pong” cranks on late into the night. He’ll be ready for the bleary-eyed champs in the morning…

It was a unique honor and pleasure for Fidi and I to sit down with these two. I believe the young folks call the following episode a “banger.” Enjoy.

Thank you, as always, to Ryne Doughty for the musical stylings.

Have a question, concern, pitch, or criticism? Drop us a line at thunderclingpodcast@gmail.com. Toss us a DM on Instagram @thethundercling. We read and respond to every note we receive.

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