Sunday, December 2, 2012

Meet... Nicole Lusk & Bethany Wedlund

Bethany Wedlund and Nicole Lusk
By Aubrey Wingo

Aiguille has one of the most ever-changing families; between customers, members, and most of all, employees, people come and go, leaving an imprint in our history. Recently, Aiguille welcomed two new staff to our crazy gang, Nicole Lusk and Bethany Wedlund. These two ladies, coming from very adventurous backgrounds, have made wonderful additions and proved to have a lot to offer to our customers and our business.

Nicole Lusk
Nicole Lusk

Originally from Miami, Nicole Lusk has spent most of her life in Deltona, FL. After a visit with her friends to Aiguille Rock Climbing Center, she decided to apply for a job at the gym because her experience in climbing and teaching made her a good candidate. “I’m really active in Scouting and was a Venture Scout through the Boy Scouts. One of our requirements for our awards was to climb several routes, rappel, and lead how to belay each other up. From there, I was recruited to work for the high Adventure team at the camp.” Working in this industry for over four years now, this education and exposure to adventurous environments has contributed to her amazing work ethic. When talking to Nicole about climbing, her attitude is always positive and very motivated. I always ask members about their climbing style expecting to hear terms like “powerful”, “technical”, “dynamic”... Nicole’s response? “Do whatever I can to get to the top... Every body part is fair game.” But overall, in climbing, Nicole always takes her personal welfare into consideration. Preferring top rope over bouldering, despite everyone’s apparent favoritism to bouldering in our community. “I’m not a huge risk taker and if I fall, I perfer to have someone I trust completely on that rope. I can count on one hand the number of people I’ve allowed to belay me. If you’re spacey or spastic... nope! Not going to happen!”

Nicole is also a jack of all trades. “A member once told me that I wasn’t really a climber because I prefer to keep my hands soft. What he didn’t understand is that I use my hands for everything!” Nicole finds herself wanting to do a bit of everything from photography and embroidery, to woodworking, sketching, and even practicing different medical skills such as wound stitching! “If I don’t know how to do something, I find out how. All sorts of things I find useful and fascinating. It keeps my life from getting dull!” A huge fan of food with simple ingredients, she loves to cook. “I like simple dishes that you don’t need to hire a private investigator to know what is in it.” Nicole finds a peace in canoeing, hiking, and of course, climbing. And this outdoorsy and adventurous nature comes naturally for her. “I have five older brothers and no sisters. To say I grew up as a tomboy would be an understatement.”

The Aiguille atmosphere has certainly been very welcoming to Nicole. “I love the people here. Not just the awesome staff, but the members and regulars have always been so patient with me while I was learning the ropes here. It’s a close community and I really appreciate that.” Nicole’s encouraging and positive nature makes her interaction with customers special and if you are lucky enough to be in her class, she will make it worth while. “They’ll leave that class with the knowledge and confidence they need to have fun. In almost every class, there is someone who is just not confident in their abilities. I work with them to get them to understand that they are able and already know what to do. When they leave my class, they are smiling because they feel accomplished and I love seeing that.”

At 21, Nicole is looking to finish classes at Daytona State College and then transfer to the University of Florida to enter the Bachelors of Biology program, and then eventually medical school to become a doctor. “I really enjoy fixing people. I'm always the one to take care of people who get sick or injured, so I decided to make it into a career.” So until then, make sure to welcome Nicole to the Aiguille family next time you come in and enjoy the warm and intelligent conversations that she provides.

Bethany Wedlund
Bethany Wedlund

Bethany, a Central Florida native, was born and raised in Apopka, only moving to this area within the past couple of years. Graduating from Apopka High School in 2006, Bethany had focused on studying film and acting, making it a goal to start making money in film and commercial acting. She is also a graduate of Art Sake Acting Studio having studied in Yvonne Suhor’s Advanced Intensive acting classes. Throughout the month of November, Bethany’s most current acting experience has been in Play de Luna’s Getting to Know Who? An Evening of Comedic One Act Plays as Martha. She is also currently a student at the University of Central Florida starting off as a theatre major but plans to change that, floating around through different programs to find what she likes. Eventually, Bethany would like to move to Los Angeles to continue her career in film, but has changed her game plan for now upon her education at UCF and the birth of her son.

Bethany has focused a great portion of her life conquering her fears, which has certainly given her a brave, ‘I-can-do-anything’ personality. “I started life guarding because I wanted to conquer my fear of deep water. I taught myself how to swim, passed the fitness test, and have now had hundred of trained rescues and trained hundreds of new lifeguards.” Naturally, climbing would be another fear that she was determined to face.“ Aiguille member Taylor Nelms invited me to go back, and I saw it as an opportunity to get over my fear of heights. I remember getting so nervous at the top of my first bouldering route that I wouldn’t let go or jump off, but I was too tired to climb down. I don’t remember getting down that day, but I do remember that feeling of accomplishment and I became addicted to it.” Bethany finds bouldering to be her favorite style of climbing, due to the self competitive nature it presents. “I still consider myself a beginner, but I would like to adapt my style to look similar to ballet on the wall.” One day, Bethany would love to try competing as the most recent competitions have gotten her psyched. “I'll never forget the first comp I worked, watching the women's final I actually teared up a little watching one of the ladies finally send a problem.” Working on a training regimen to build core strength and control, you’ll be sure to find Bethany somewhere in front of the Wave or somewhere in the bouldering area.

Bethany Wedlund

In 2011, Bethany’s plans for school and climbing were put on hold after becoming pregnant with her son and facing the choices that a baby would bring. This life experience would set the path of what Bethany would look to do in the future and I believe she can explain it best. “I knew that I was going to be giving my son up for adoption but I noticed that there was a lack of support systems for birth moms. I'd searched on the internet for agencies and websites that were there to offer me advice, but all I could find were websites that were there to help me find a family. I had to go through a lot of tough days and nights on my own and figure out a way to console myself through it all. Towards the end of my experience I realized what I need to do with my education. I am in the process of changing my major so that I can put together my own Non-Profit organization to help women who are giving their children up for adoption and offer expert advice so that hopefully no one will ever have to feel like they're dealing with what I went through on their own.” One can bet that Bethany is going places and will certainly help women all over the nation and perhaps even the world.

Bethany, as an employee, has brought a welcoming atmosphere to our customers and staff as she becomes part of our community. “When I teach a belay class I really try to make sure that the customer doesn't get discouraged. I like relating to my students and reminding them that I was once a beginner at this too and that it took me lots of practice to get where I am with my belay technique. I am very focused and dedicated to ensuring everyone in the class understands all that I am teaching and am very patient with those that need extra time.” She also loves how accepting and sweet everyone has been since she started a little over a month ago making her feel a part of the family. In the future, Bethany looks forward to becoming lead certified, to go on her first outdoor climbing trip, and continue to learn more about climbing in general. “I feel like I know very very little about climbing in general and I am so happy to have the opportunity to learn more through my employment here.”

Bethany also enjoys to swim with manatees, kayak, and go to the beach. She has also taken different dancing classes, plays the flute, and writes poetry. Other last thoughts? “I have a twin brother who looks nothing like me. I'm competitive but a good sport. I love pizza and just about anything spicy. I love and value honesty and I am not prepared for the zombie apocalypse.” Come visit Bethany at Aiguille and experience her fun, do-it-all nature!

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