// Meet EVO Programs Director Nick Miller
Meet Nick Miller, Programs Director for EVO Lou and EVO Kids. Nick grew up in a tiny town you’ve never heard of somewhere in Indiana. Luckily he wandered west and discovered climbing while working with youth at an experiential education science school in California. Now he’s stoked to combine his passions for climbing and education at EVO to help youth and adult athletes surpass their expectations within the sport.
Here he is telling us a little more about, well, himself:
So we’re on the record?
Yup! Anything you say can and will be put on the internet 😉
Okay, good to know [smiles].
How did you get into climbing?
I grew up in Indiana, where climbing really wasn’t a thing. I moved to Southern California to teach at an outdoor science school right after college where climbing was part of the curriculum. I saw what [climbing] did for kids, especially for their confidence.
One day I went to the gym and was hooked. I’ve been climbing four days a week ever since. That was 10 years ago.
Heck yeah! Do you mostly climb in the gym or outside?
A good mix. My wife and I try to get outside once or twice a week.
Any favorite local crags you’d recommend?
Any winter projects?
None till spring. We’re heading back to Font in April, so we’re trying to get strong this winter to maybe be able to climb like V1 there. It’s so hard [laughs].
When did you discover your passion for working with kids?
It’s always been what I wanted to do. I was an education major and loved working with kids but found the traditional classroom wasn’t a good fit for me. Then I found outdoor education.
When I worked for the outdoor science school, I got a group of kids at 10a and taught 3 classes till 5p. During those classes we went out on a 2 mile hike, and I taught each class along the way. This style of experiential education changed my life. I saw kids that didn’t fit the mold in the traditional classroom thrive.
I worked at that school for 2 years and moved into management while there. I found that when I was teaching kids directly I could reach those 20 kids, but if I could impact my 40 or 50 staff, then I could impact the thousands of kids that came through the program.
When I saw this job at EVO, I was like this is it; this is what I want to do: staff development, rock climbing, kids. Now that I’m here, and it’s everything I’ve hoped and dreamed.
We’re stoked you’re here! So EVO Kids just opened in Louisville, CO. What are you most excited for?
I’m excited for kids to have a space to truly be kids. A space where you can teach the ethics of climbing to kids with kids. It’s also cool that the building is right downtown. It’s going to be convenient for parents–to allow them to drop their kids off and do things they want and need to in town while their kids are in youth programs. That way we’re supporting everyone within the family. I’m also looking forward to having more programs for younger age groups and new equipment to diversify our programs a bit.
Are you referencing the ninja-style obstacle courses?
Yeah, the challenge-based obstacles will appeal to more kids. I’m looking forward to using ninja training to introduce kids to climbing who might not have had an interest in the sport in the first place. And it goes the other way too. We all evolve as climbers and need breaks as well, which is where some of those ninja-based activities come in for the dedicated youth athletes.
And ninja obstacles translate well to the new parkour-style of competition climbing route setting.
As comp climbing becomes more and more popular, I think that style of climbing will be more interesting to younger groups specifically.
I think it’s important for kids to find their direction and their path. Maybe it’s competition climbing; maybe it’s trad climbing. The EVO Kids space will allow us to offer the full spectrum of climbing, so kids can discover what they want to do.
What is the funniest interaction you’ve had with a kiddo you’ve worked with?
Oh man, there’s a lot [laughs]. I’ve worked with thousands of children, but one child who tried to explain who I was to her mom stands out. A few days into the program I was teaching, her mom came up to me and asked ‘are you Nick’? And I said, yeah. She said, “okay, my daughter was trying to explain to me who you were, and I asked what you looked like, and she said, ‘well his hair is always up in a tundle bundle’.” Kids say things that are so honest. And I was like, yeah it’s true [my hair] is kinda a mess. [For the record, Nick had dreadlocks at the time. His hair is no longer dreaded. Or messy.]
What is your favorite part about working at a climbing gym?
The passion that is shared here. Not everyone is here specifically for climbing, but everyone is extremely passionate. It’s super motivating, especially on a professional front, to see people so driven. It inspires me to make myself better, both at work and outside of work too–you’re around people who inspire you to be better in whatever direction you choose.
The community aspect of a climbing gym is what’s most important to me. It is what has kept me in the sport for a decade, and it’s a big reason why we’re still here in this state.
Interested in Youth Programs?
Learn more about EVO Louisville Youth Programs here.
More about EVO Concord Youth Programs here.
More about EVO Portland Youth Programs over here.
EVO Kids Youth Programs will be available winter 2020, but you can learn more about them over here.
Many thank yous to Nick for taking time to chat with us about all things climbing, kids climbing, outdoor climbing and being recognized for his (no longer) messy hair.