Kevin Pickren – General Manager
Originally from North Carolina, Kevin’s climbing career began in 1997 when his father surprised the kids with a guided outdoor climbing trip. It only took one climb in Estes Park, CO to know that climbing would become a lifelong passion. 20 years later, Kevin has had the opportunity to visit many phenomenal climbing areas including Red River Gorge KY, New River Gorge WV, Horse Pens 40, Hueco Tanks TX, and many more.
After years of grinding in corporate America, Kevin made the decision to combine passion and career by joining Central Rock Gym in 2011 while finishing an MBA from UMass Amherst. He strives everyday to create an experience at Central Rock Gym that allows visitors to experience the joys of climbing much like he did that day in Estes Park. When he manages to pry himself away from the gym you’ll typically find him hiking in the White Mountains, mountain biking, or launching into house renovation projects.
Bryan Rafferty – Assistant Manager
Bryan “Raff” Rafferty was born and raised in the Boston area. He began his climbing career by exploring the seemingly endless supply of underrated granite in New Hampshire and Maine. From the first moment his skin touched the stone, a transformation took place which would change the bloodline of Rafferty forever. A climber was born. His timeline was permanently shifted to one of adventure and mischief. With an insatiable thirst for the vertical life, the act of rock climbing became a platform for what would become a wide array of side projects and hobbies leading him on the path to eventual glory in becoming the Assistant Manager of one of the finest climbing facilities in the world–Central Rock Gym.
Always psyched and rarely idle, you’re bound to see this elusive creature out at the crag or in the gym complaining about gravity. When you see him at the gym make sure you give him a giant bear hug.
Shane Messer – Head Route Setter
Shane Messer is Central Rock Gym’s Director of Route Setting. As an Army brat, Shane has lived all over the US. He found climbing in Fayetteville, NC and it was love at first climb! He’s worked in the climbing industry for more than a decade as a professional route setter, coach, and climber. With the support of his sponsors, including CRG, he’s had the opportunity to travel to the far reaches of the world to represent the USA at climbing competitions. When he’s not jetting off to a faraway land for the weekend, you can catch him hanging out with his family in the city or at the crag.
Stephen Bryant – Competitive Team Head Coach
You may not recognize the above name because nobody calls him Stephen. Known as Tex (from the great state of Texas), he was born and raised in a small town outside of San Antonio. Tex spent most of his time huntin’, fishin’, and lovin’ every day.
While he has been climbing and coaching for over a decade, he got his start in the caving community at the age of 14 and made the transition to climbing in college. He received a BS in geology from the University of Texas at Austin while managing the on-campus climbing center and heading up their guiding service. After graduation, he moved to North Carolina and dove further into the climbing industry as a coach and route setter for Triangle Rock Club. Tex is currently in charge of all the competitive teams at CRG Watertown and Cambridge, including the youth and collegiate teams (Northeastern, MIT, Brandeis, and Tufts).
Fun fact: He knows the words to every country song ever written and can be caught singing along while driving around town.
Jess Steindler – Youth Programs Coordinator
Many say that Jess is the protagonist of Disney’s 2010 animated feature film, “Tangled.” She is a princess with long, magical, golden hair. Upon leaving her tower, Jess found rock climbing. Climbing has been a catalyst through which Jess has been able to experience some amazing places, such as Verdon Gorge and Fontainebleau in France, and Red Rocks in Nevada. She joined the team at CRG while finishing her studies at Brandeis University in 2015 and has been working with the youth programs ever since! She loves working with the kids and sharing her passion with them.