Meet the coaches
Coach Kyle first founded Team Texas in 1996, when he realized that climbing was the perfect sport to combine his dream of building confidence and self-esteem in youth and his desire to be a coach. Kyle has been coaching youth climbers for 16 years — long before there were junior climbing competitions. After discovering that there were no climbing programs offered to Texas youth, he approached Exposure Rock Gym in Carrollton, TX, with his idea to start a team, and his dream materialized. Since its inception, Team Texas has been the model of success in youth competitive climbing teams. The team has won 11 of the last 12 Youth National Team Championships for sport/speed climbing, and has placed in the top three in three of the last four Youth National Team Championships for bouldering. Team Texas climbers not only excel in indoor climbing and competitions, they take their love of climbing outdoors to further develop and enhance their skills and love for the sport. Team Texas has logged more miles than any other youth program in the country, traveling to various climbing destinations including Hueco Tanks, Red River Gorge, Rumney, Wild Iris, Smith Rock and Yosemite. Coach Kyle sought to increase the profile and professionalism of climbing coaches as a whole, so he established the USA Climbing Coaches Committee, as well as created USA Climbing’s coach certification process — which determines the criteria and process for U.S. Team Coach selection — and established the Coaches Symposium. To better train and prepare members of the U.S. Youth National Team for the Youth World Championships, he organized and oversaw the first U.S. National Team Training Camp in 2005. Demonstrating the volunteer ethic that Team Texas is known for, Kyle has served on the USA Climbing Board of Directors, and the Executive, Coaches, and Appeals Committees, and is a current member of the Rules Committee. Coach Kyle’s drive, experiences, skills and determination have earned him the following distinctions: First USA Climbing U.S. Team Head Coach (Italy, 1999) Served as U.S. National Team Head Coach (1999-2007) Has coached more climbers on the U.S. Team than any other coach in the country More climbers as Continental, Pan-American, and World Champions than any other coach in the country. In Coach Kyle’s own words, “Team Texas is more than a team—it’s a family. I believe our greatest success is our willingness to put the greater good of the team before the individual. Team Texas has become what I’ve always dreamed it could be — a legacy. Past and present, we fight to uphold the respect, integrity, and success of our motto: ‘Have fun, work hard, get better.’”
Marisa has been coaching Team Texas and Team Summit for a 2 years and coaching for over 3. She has been climbing for 13 years, and has attended several World Cups and is a Team Texas alum. She currently studies Biomedical Engineering at University of Texas at Dallas.
Ellis Whitson traveled from Washington, D.C., to be a part of Team Texas in the summer of 2013. He has coached climbing for almost 10 years, and has coached multiple teams across the country in the northeast and midwest. He has previously coached climbers who have made podium at World and Continental Championships in lead, bouldering and speed climbing. Ellis currently serves as a member of the routesetting crew at the Summit Climbing gyms, in addition to coaching the team.
Matt coaches out of Summit Dallas. He has been a climbing coach for about 10 years, and has been a climber for about 20. He has written several guidebooks on local Texas climbing areas, and continues to help establish climbing areas nearby. He has coached National Champion Delaney Miller, and also route sets when he is not coaching. He has two young sons who are totally little rock climbers in the making! Matt also functions as the head setter for the recreational climbing and competition program, the JCCA.
Sashia's love of climbing began in California and has been climbing for seven years. She became a part of the Team Texas family in August 2017 and also has experience coaching other sports for over four years. She has attended school for athletic training, exercise science, and emergency first responder services.
Recently moved from Norman, Oklahoma, Merritt Ernsberger was a climber on Team Texas from 2016 to 2018. Though Merritt's time on team was short, he qualified for both the adult and youth US speed climbing national teams, placed in an adult speed world cup, and finished in 13th place for speed climbing at the 2018 Youth World Championships. On top of coaching and climbing, he will soon begin studying mechanical engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas.
Ahmed is the head coach of the Austin branch of Team Texas. In addition to coaching he oversees communication specific to the Austin branch. Born in the DFW area, Ahmed began climbing/working at Summit Climbing Gym around the age of 15. In his tenure at Summit he became a shift lead, lead summer camp counselor and eventually general manager of the Carrollton location working very closely alongside Team Texas. His passion for competing and coaching grew and has resulted in competing at four Speed World Cups including World Championships in 2016. In 2017, Ahmed moved to Austin and co-founded Team Arete with fellow Team Texas Alum, Peter Schaub, with hopes of being absorbed by Team Texas which has since become a reality! The Austin branch of Team Texas started with 3 climbers in 2017 and has since grown to over 40 and continues to grow in numbers, skills and good times had!
Julian Boyd is a coach and trainer with the Austin Branch of Team Texas. Julian Boyd began climbing at Summit Climbing Gym in Grapevine on a whim. It was summer of 2007 and to get out of the heat he came to the gym and hasn’t stopped climbing since. In addition to getting a job at the gym, working kids events and team buildings, Julian is a Team Texas Alum who’s tenure as member stretched from 2008 to 2011. In that time, and some time after, Julian has managed to make it on the US National Speed Team from 2009-2013 as well as a Jr Guide for the 2010 team trip to the Red River Gorge.
Gabriel is a USAC certified coach for Team Texas in Austin. He is a student at Austin Community College working towards his degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has worked as a rock climbing coach for the past two years and loves to see the team kids reach their goals.
For years now Keith has tried to find something better to do with his time other than climbing but he hasn't found it yet! He has coached climbing for 4 years now, and has been rock climbing since he was 10 years old. When he isn't coaching Keith attends the University of Oklahoma, where he studies Creative Media Production and helps coach the University climbing team .
Virginia loves to climb, dance, and sling ink. She has been coaching climbing for three years now and loves helping young climbers reach their full potential while also fostering a love for outside climbing. When she is not climbing, Virginia teaches printmaking workshops and hosts pop up art shows across the states.
Though I climbed very irregularly up until college (maybe once a year or less), I began it in earnest as a hobby my freshman year (fall 2015), finding time to climb whenever I wasn’t doing a running workout, as I was formerly trying to be an NCAA running athlete. When I realized that making it with running probably wasn’t going to happen, I took up climbing as my full time form of exercise, and began looking into the competitive side of it. I invested more and more time into climbing training through my sophomore year, and I began competing for the University of Oklahoma’s climbing team upon its creation in fall of 2017. Since then I have been focused on improving my own ability as well as doing what I can for the team to help people similarly improve. In the fall of 2018 I expanded my involvement with my climbing community by joining the Oklahoma Climbing Team as a youth coach, which I am currently still doing, as well as teaching climbing and climbing-related classes at the Summit Gyms in Oklahoma.