Volleyball Senior Manda Climbs More than Record Lists

Sept. 3, 2010

Kansas senior volleyball player Melissa Manda prefers to spend her free time outdoors climbing rocks and barreling down a mountain on her bike.

“I’ve always liked being outside,” said Manda, “I joined the rock climbing club a couple of years ago. A lot of my friends were doing it and it looked like a lot of fun.”

This summer Manda completed a week-long, 500-mile bike tour around southwestern Colorado with her father and boyfriend.

“You go from town to town each day,” Manda said. “It’s a lot of fun and it’s really pretty.”

Manda says that the biking this summer was a good alternative to working out in the gym and the weight room.

“It’s a little bit different type of exercise because volleyball is so short and fast,” said Manda. “Biking is longer and more endurance-based. It is really nice to switch it up and do something different.”

The last two spring breaks Manda has traveled 21 hours by car with the KU rock climbing club to Red Rock Canyon outside of Las Vegas. Manda considers this her favorite trip.

“It’s a beautiful place,” said Manda. “I get to spend a whole week with my best friends outside climbing, hiking and camping.”

During the trip, Manda and her fellow club members slept outside, usually without tents and with no showers.

“Most of the time, we just slept in sleeping bags on the ground,” Manda said. “Waking up in the desert is amazing, and the weather was always nice when we were there.”

This past year the club’s first night in the desert was marred by a windstorm.

“There was a crazy windstorm,” Manda said. “We couldn’t even set up a tent so we slept in the car.”

At Red Rock the group hikes to the climbing areas with all of their gear and then climbs all day.

“Where we were, we weren’t climbing on mountains,” said Manda, “but on big red rock features that were pretty much right in the middle of the desert.”

Though the club mostly climbs indoors at the student recreation center on the KU campus, Manda says she definitely prefers climbing outdoors.

“Climbing indoors is fun,” Manda said, “but it doesn’t begin to compare to climbing outside in a national park. It’s challenging and can be scary sometimes, but its safe. You are up high overlooking a beautiful landscape, only supported by a rope and some other gear. It’s a rush.”