Emmett Cookson was born and raised in St. Louis, MO. Growing up, he participated in a lot of the typical STL ball sports: soccer, basketball, and baseball. The last of the three was his favorite despite the fact that his school didn’t have their own team. After several years of jumping around from team to team, Emmett decided one spring to join the track team during his last year of grade school. He ran the 1600m and the 800m.
He was hooked.
His freshman year of high school saw Emmett enjoying his first ever cross country season, steadily improving times and getting PR’s each meet. With there being no interesting winter sports (despite the wrestling coach’s best attempts), Emmett continued to run through the winter. By the time spring rolled around, Emmett had developed a taste for being as fast as he could, likely fueled by his brother in the year ahead of him. That season Emmett focused on the mile, running a time of 4:56.
Chasing the sub 5 minute mile motivated Emmett for years to come. He would reach and maintain a Varsity status on the SLUH cross country and track teams for his three remaining years, running PRs of 16:14, 9:32, and 4:32 in the 5000m, 3200m, and 1600m, respectively, while being a part of two Missouri State Cross Country Championship teams. His senior year saw him as a captain of both teams as well, a precursor to his love of coaching.
After graduating high school, Emmett went on to the University of Tulsa in Tulsa, OK, where he walked on as a Cross Country and Track and Field athlete while studying Computer Science. During his four years, Emmett’s PR’s were: 10k – 32:35, 8k – 25:18, 5k – 14:38, 3k Steeple – 9:08, 3k – 8:24.
Running for 9 years of his life with few breaks, Emmett looked for a new sport to dive into after college. After moving to Austin, TX in September 2014 for work, Emmett joined Team ARG’s Adult Team and began to climb. Several years later, he would quit the software development world and join on as an assistant coach for the newly branded Team ATX and for the University of Texas’ Texas Rock Climbing team. He would also take this as his opportunity to try his hand at Open-Level Bouldering competitions, having competed and won at the advanced level prior.
After his first season of competition and coaching in late 2016/early 2017, Emmett was presented with the opportunity to move to the Boulder/Denver area to coach and routeset with Justen Sjong and Nick Foster. Emmett would go on to take over the Head Coach role from Justen. As time has passed since, Emmett has coached several youth teams in the Front Range region, helping teams like the Denver Bouldering Club earn their first medals at Youth Nationals. Most recently he has become the Head Coach for the Seattle Bouldering Project, which is his primary location he works out of. He also has continued routesetting to supplement his coaching and to ask questions of his climbers through the creation of movement.
Having coached Maureen Beck privately in the past, Emmett was selected by USA Climbing to be the Head Coach for the Team USA Paraclimbing team for the 2018 World Championships in Innsbruck, Austria. Since that first WCH, Emmett has continued to progress as a coach, working one-on-one with athletes of all ages, ability levels, and sport classes. He continues to serve as the Head Coach for the US Para team in addition to his private coaching through Emmett Cookson Climbing Coaching.