Reaching new heights: C of I student Matt Fultz a climbing star
January 2012 - A professional athlete resides on The College of Idaho campus, and he’s one of the best in the world at his sport.
Were Matt Fultz a football player, autograph requests might make his college life difficult. But the C of I sophomore is a rock climber, which means his love for the sport exceeds any mainstream fame and fortune he receives from it.
Not that you’ll hear him complain about it.
“What I love about climbing is the physical problem solving,” Fultz said. “Here you have this challenge in front of you, and you have to solve it in your mind and then try to execute your solution with your body. I’ve always enjoyed puzzles like that. It feels so awesome when you figure it out and reach the top.”
Famous or not, Fultz is one of the best young climbers in the nation. He has been competing across the country since his early teens, and he became the first person from Idaho – and the entire Big Sky region – to win USA Climbing Junior Nationals in 2004. Fultz put climbing on the back burner for a couple of years while he starred in football and track at nearby Columbia High School in Nampa, but his dedication to the sport has reached new heights since he enrolled at C of I. He remains undefeated in Idaho competition and qualified for his first World Cup last year event by finishing sixth at a Professional Bouldering Series national event in Salt Lake City. He chose not to attend the World Cup, but plans to go this year if he qualifies again.
“It’s been really exciting getting back into climbing,” Fultz said. “If you qualify for World Cup, you get to compete in Europe, so I’m definitely interested in that. But I also enjoy climbing outside just for fun here in Idaho.”
Some of Fultz’s favorite local spots include Swan Falls near Kuna, Reynolds Creek near Melba and the Lucky Peak Reservoir cliffs near Boise – all less than 45 minutes from campus. He long ago mastered the C of I climbing wall and currently works and trains at The Front rock climbing gym in Boise.
Even in a fringe sport, Fultz is too good to avoid the limelight completely. Earlier this year, he was featured on The Real Winning Edge, a television program about young athletes overcoming obstacles and making positive life decisions. The episode featuring Fultz aired nationally Jan. 21 on FOX. Fultz’s segment focused on climbing as well as dealing with peer pressure. Fultz was introduced by professional skateboarder Christian Hosoi, who has fought to overcome the drug and legal problems that once hindered his career.
“One of the struggles of rock climbing is there is a lot of drug use in the sport, especially smoking pot,” Fultz said. “I’ve avoided that, and I would like to be a positive influence for the local climbing community. I’m hoping the show reflects that.”
Fultz, an exercise science major, would like to attend graduate school and become a physical trainer or therapist. He also is excited that rock climbing will become an Olympic sport in 2020, though he acknowledged he “might be too old by then.” For now, he looks forward to continuing his competitive career and sharing his passion with fellow students and patrons at The Front. He encourages anyone interested in climbing to contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.