Today, I am stepping out of my comfort zone to reach out to you, thank you for your time, and thank you for your consideration.
When you dream big and that dream manifests into reality, more opportunities seem to come and the sensation is indescribable. The 2016 Sport Climbing Nationals became the platform on which I experienced this—achieving the silver medal and earning an invite to compete with Team USA at the World Youth Championships in Guangzhou, China, this November.
I’m Joey Catama and I’m the third of four boys.
You see, the feeling was like nothing I could even imagine. I now realize the past months and years of competitive climbing, I believed in the process, but I didn’t believe in the result that could be possible for me.
Two years ago at my first Sports Nationals, I placed 5th - one spot off the US Team. I approached that National Championship with no expectations. In fact, I was pretty clueless. I went purely for the experience and with the guidance of my eldest brother, Jacob, and my coach, Jesse, I came away with a desire to discover the best person and climber that I could be.
Representing the USA became a new goal. Little did I know, the amount of perseverance and belief it would take to achieve this in a good balance of life.
Last year I qualified to compete again in the National competition. However, it was quite upsetting. I didn’t even qualify for semifinals. Again, Jacob, who accompanied me and my coach, Isaac, made sure I learned from this experience.
This year, realizing this could be my last chance in Youth Nationals, making the “most of it” took on a whole different meaning. I found myself striving to not just do well, but to excel in every part of me—academics, training, and my family role – as acting big brother while Jacob was away. Filling his role during his years away was just as challenging as balancing all of this at once.
But when I looked at it with the mindset of “adventure,” it all became exciting and even invigorating. I was definitely on the right track.
Some doubt creeped in, however. The pressure knowing that the time I had to make the US Youth Team was dwindling and that this could be my last chance occupied my mind. I didn’t give it much room for too long though. I set out to put the odds on my side. Top 3 (“podium”) still seemed unreal – so I told myself – just get 4th place.
During the month before nationals, I set certain goals to maximize my training: 1) Lose 10lbs. of muscle mass, and 2) Perform 50 hard moves in a row. With the support and guidance of my family, climbing friends and coaches, I stayed motivated, focused and determined. Recommitting to a decided heart each and every morning is what it took. Three to five workouts per day? My choice. But if I was able to do the first workout, the hardest choice, I would be able to do every other workout. Simple but not easy. The week before Nationals, I achieved both of those goals and I knew I was physically prepared.
As incredible as achieving beyond my goals at 2nd place at Nationals, I know this is merely a stepping stone for greater things. Right now that is Guangzhou, China – host for the 2016 World Youth Championships being held from November 7-13. Again, seems It seems impossible. The logistics—overwhelming. But when I see it with such clarity and purpose, these obstacles become no different from those huge boulders a passionate rock climber faces outdoors. I approach them with a decision and each time I realize, “I’m not afraid of ‘heights’.”
It all starts with a decision. I’ve decided that I am going to compete in China. It’s what I’ve been working towards. I’ve researched all the logistics – passport, visa, travel, training, food, supervision, etc. and have come up with a realistic estimate of what it will take to make this happen. My parents and I know that my brother, Jacob, who is my best mentor along with my parents, is the best choice to accompany me to Worlds. It just so happens, Jacob is done with college and can incorporate this opportunity into his own goals and plans. He will coach, supervise and document the whole journey, which has already begun.
My primary – okay, only, source of income (my parents) having run dry, I must humble myself and reach out through sources such as this. Because of my rigorous schedule last school year, I was only able to help with a small amount of my expenses.
I ask for your support. This opportunity and deep desire would be nonexistent without my God so prayers is my ultimate request. Prayers specifically for continued clarity, guidance, determination and the means to accomplish what I believe I must with the balance needed to grow to be my best version as a person- not just a competitive climber.
My family and I already have the deepest appreciation and gratitude. Any monetary amount of support during these times when so many seem to struggle to make ends meet is genuinely welcomed.
Opportunities such as what I have been given are the stepping stones for greater things. Thank you for reading, considering and sharing!