Growing up in Frisco provides amazing opportunities for youth, especially when it comes to athletics, but it can also prove challenging for many kids as they work to discover their passions and pursue greatness in various activities, sports and endeavors. Having been dubbed “Sports City USA” and serving as home to so many unique programs, there are undoubtedly a myriad of sports for kids and teens to participate in, in hopes of finding something that piques their interest and drives their desire to be at the top of their game.
For many, it is the first swing of a bat, the first kick or catch of the ball or the first step on to the field that ignites a passion. Given that Frisco (while it still has ample green space) is very much becoming a suburban concrete jungle, not many are able to literally and figuratively live under the premise that “the sky is the limit,” but Frisco’s own Delaney Miller, a now retired professional rock climber, has had a decorated professional rock climbing career that allowed her to truly do just that. She might have started her career with a literal ceiling over her head at her rock climbing gym, but over the past few years, she has been able to travel the globe to some of the world’s most breathtaking sites while making a name for herself in the professional rock climbing world.
Looking back, Ms. Miller recalls, “I did not know about climbing until I was 12. I discovered the sport at my best friend’s birthday party at a rock-climbing gym, and it was truly a love at first sight kind of thing for me. My parents were kind of skeptical, to be honest, because as a kid, I was always active and I tried a lot of sports, but I was not passionate about anything before I discovered climbing. So, they just kind of reluctantly signed me up for an after-school program and, eventually, after a couple of months, they knew I was not giving it up. They signed me up for the actual climbing team at the gym and everything kind of took off from there.”
Ms. Miller began her career at Frisco’s Canyons Climbing Gym as a member of the Lone Star Climbing Team, which is a program dedicated to the healthy development of kids through the sport of rock climbing. With raw, natural rock-climbing talent, Ms. Miller catapulted herself into success, earning a spot on the U.S. team a mere six months after joining her local rock-climbing team. At 13, a year after beginning her career, she was fourth in the nation in her age category. From the time she stepped foot in the gym for that birthday party, she knew climbing was in her heart. “Pretty much the day I joined the team, I knew it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Before that, I did not know it was possible to be a professional climber, and once I joined the team, I just knew,” she remembers.
A graduate of Frisco’s Centennial High School, Ms. Miller juggled 12+ hour days filled with studies, participation on the school’s cross country/track team, as well as rock climbing in an effort to reach her goals and allow herself the best opportunities at success. While Ms. Miller’s parents were continually supportive of her climbing endeavors, they had two stipulations in exchange for their continued support: maintaining her grades and staying connected in school by participating in a club or sport. Ms. Miller not only rose to the challenges presented before her in high school, but she faced them head-on and graduated valedictorian of her class, set school cross country records and won two women’s USA Climbing Sport Climbing Series National titles throughout her high school career.
Of the lessons she learned during her climbing career, the self proclaimed “gym rat” says the sport has taught her about who she is, how to try hard, to never give up and how to have a good attitude.
Over the years, her career has taken her to places like France, Spain, Germany, Canada, as well as all over the U.S. Ms. Miller’s favorite place her career has taken her is to Corsica, France, a picturesque, mountainous island in the heart of the Mediterranean that is full of dense forests and craggy peaks perfect for climbing. Corsica is home, also, to Ms. Miller’s proudest outdoor ascent: P1 Delicatessen, 8b+, which she completed in 2017.
Ms. Miller’s proudest professional career memory is the time she was first able to make a World Cup Final in 2015. Her best competition results include first place at USA Women’s Lead Nationals 2013, 2014, 2015 and seventh place finishes with International Federation of Sport Climbing Lead World Cup 2014, 2015.
Life as a professional athlete can be filled with as many trials as triumphs, especially in a sport that is not as widely-popular as others. “It is not easy!” Ms. Miller admits. “Climbing is a growing sport. Now that it is finally in the Olympics, it is getting more attention from big corporations, but before that, it was really hard to be sponsored and to be paid adequately … and it still is, but it is finally getting better.”
In July, Ms. Miller formally resigned from being a professional climbing athlete and is continuing her career in climbing in a different way, working for Gym Climber Magazine. “For me, I just love climbing, so that is never going to change,” she says. “I am never going to stop climbing. I still climb all the time, just as hard as I ever have. It is my passion. But, at a certain point, it was not worth it to me to keep trying to get a sponsorship because I knew I was not going to go to the Olympics. So, that was the decision that made sense for me.”
Ms. Miller calls Colo. home now, and she is able to continue climbing while focusing on her new career. “I hope to keep writing. I imagine I will stay here for a long time because it is a job that allows me to stay connected to all the people I was competing against, but now I get the advantage of being able to write about it for fun and not be their competitor.”
Ms. Miller fearlessly pursued her passion in a sport that is not as widely popular and proved to herself that the work was worth it. Ms. Miller is an amazing example of hard work, dedication and drive. Frisco might not be the place she now calls home, but we sure are proud it was here that she decided the sky was the limit!
Allie Spletter is proud to call Frisco home. She loves being able to share Frisco with others through writing.