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, 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. He grew the gym’s youth team to begin developing athletes to compete in the competitive Front Range region of USA Climbing.
Having coached Maureen Beck, 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. During this competition Team USA brought 34 athletes, 6 of which made finals. Of those 6, 5 became medalists, earning 1 gold, 2 silver, and 3 bronze medals.
Since that first WCH, Emmett has entered a role with the Denver Bouldering Club as Head Coach. Additionally, he has worked as the Head Coach for the US Para team for another year, helping the team in the 2019 WCH in Briançon.
Emmett is still competing to this day and is currently setting and coaching at Colorado Academy while looking for private opportunities to coach and work with youth, adaptive, and adult climbers of all levels to help them reach their climbing and fitness goals. He is also available as a routesetting contractor for competitions, homewalls, and everything in-between.