Meet FA members (left to right) Manasi Deshpande, Paige Trotter, and Meaghan Cusack . They’re training at First Ascent for the Paraclimbing World Cup in LA in October, and we’re psyched to sponsor and support their training through the FA Foundation!
We asked these three teammates about themselves so we could introduce them properly to the FA community, and their answers are below. Take a read to learn more about them!
One of the best quotes from the interview was from Meaghan. When we asked her how the FA community could support her training, she said: “Although I realize that seeing someone with a physical difference climbing can be inspirational to others, I don’t come to the gym with that purpose. I come as an athlete wanting to work hard, get stronger and improve my skills each day. I appreciate someone commenting on my technique, strength or endurance much more than someone telling me I’m an inspiration.”
With that in mind, follow these slaydies on Instagram (@flentil, @heyred17, @climber_meaghan), and if you see them around the gym, be sure to send them some stoke and ask them about their latest climbing projects, training progress, route recommendations, or the songs they’re listening to stay in training mode.
Keep crushing it Manasi, Paige, and Meaghan!
How long have you been climbing?
Manasi: 4 years
Paige: 2 years
Meaghan: 3 years
How did you get into climbing?
Paige: I saw a post on Instagram about how Abbie Robinson (Team GB) did in the 2019 Paraclimbing world championship and thought “that seems cool I should try that” and googled ‘Paraclimbing in Chicago’ and here I am.
Meaghan: A few years back my prosthetist (also a climber) invited me to an adaptive climbing event. I came and was gifted an adaptive foot and leg setup that allowed me to better use my prosthetic while on the wall. I climbed a few times with my prosthetist and another amputee climber, who both were able to help me with my technique and teach me the basics. From there I was pretty hooked, and loved finding new ways to push myself and new gyms to explore.
What’s your favorite thing about climbing?
Manasi: My favorite thing about climbing is seeing the progress and getting moves that I couldn’t a while ago.
Paige: The community and the support that everyone gives! I also love to solve a good problem.
Meaghan: Climbing has always been my release. I love coming to the gym full of my daily stress and allowing myself to let it go and leave it on the wall. On chaotic days, I find that spending time on a route helps me to quiet everything else in my life and focus.
What motivates you to compete in adaptive competitions?
Manasi:Competitions are a great commitment to training regularly and with purpose, and I love training as part of a team.
Paige: A couple things motivate me – first, my competitive nature and wanting to gain as much experience and knowledge as I could and second, representation. My adaptive category is fairly small so I feel honored to show up and hopefully inspire more visually impaired people to climb.
Meaghan During the pandemic, I found that setting and achieving goals greatly helped me to stay motivated and positive in dark times. At the beginning of 2021, I was excited at the thought of being able to continue this, and to take it further, setting bigger goals for myself. I have always struggled to view myself as an athlete and constantly compared myself to others and put limits on what I felt capable of. Seeing the progress I have been able to make in my training has sparked a sense of confidence in myself and my athleticism and motivates me to continue to climb and compete.
What can the FA community do to help support your training?
Manasi: I love when gyms set campus routes and when able-bodied climbers try campusing with me. It’s a different kind of climbing that everyone should try.
Paige: If you see me in the gym point me in the direction of your favorite balance-y route or any route that seems fun. I often need help finding routes.
Meaghan: Although I sometimes feel overwhelmed when watched, I love encouragement while I’m climbing. Hearing my name and people cheering me on helps me to find strength when I feel tired. I also love when people give me feedback especially when they show me a skill or move on the ground so I can work on it in the future. Although I realize that seeing someone with a physical difference climbing can be inspirational to others, I don’t come to the gym with that purpose. I come as an athlete wanting to work hard, get stronger and improve my skills each day. I appreciate someone commenting on my technique, strength or endurance much more than someone telling me I’m an inspiration.
What keeps you busy when you’re not climbing?
Manasi: Data. Lots of data!
Paige: Outside of climbing and work, I keep busy with concerts, hikes, and board game nights with friends.
Meaghan: I am a licensed clinical psychologist and work at a group private practice in Chicago. I love what I do and the people I work with. In addition to working and climbing, I volunteer for the American Red Cross as a disaster mental health worker. I also love running, swimming, traveling, and shopping.
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Manasi: There’s no way I would have believed a few years ago that I could do something like climbing.
Paige: I grew up in California. I also run a fun little Instagram for my cat.
Meaghan: I can play the ukulele!
When people see you at the gym, they should ask you about: ____________
Paige: What the last song I listened to was or what routes I’ve been on. I love talking about both!
Meaghan: What I am working on that day, how my climbs have been going, any routes that I recommend, or the upcoming competitions.
To learn more about the work we’re doing through the FA Foundation, head to faclimbing.com/foundation.