As they prepared for the ultra-competitive Ontario Open, members of the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club went into the event with the main goal of gaining key experience for more important matches down the road.
Picking up a few wins here and there would have been nice, but in the bigger scheme of things, just having a chance to take to the mats against some of the top competition in Eastern Canada made the trip well worth it.
So while Koseikan competitors Mark Kerr, Kailey Large and Stephanie Legault were unable to win a match at the event, the bigger picture holds much greater sway.
“Now they know what they’re going to be up against and the kind of competition they’re going to be facing, so that’s going to help them a lot,” said Koseikan instructor Vern MacDonald, who attended the meet as an official (see sidebar). “Now when they get back to training at home, they know what they have to work on and where they need to improve to be at that level when it comes to nationals and stuff like that.”
That isn’t always the case when the top local competitors do battle with their intra-province opposition, where success can sometimes be deceiving.
“They get used to winning all the time against other fighters who aren’t necessarily as strong as they are, so when they get a chance to compete at something like the Ontario Open, it really helps them a lot,” MacDonald said. “Now they’re saying ‘oh, I have to change my style and work on certain things’, and that’s exactly what has to happen to become a better fighter.”
In addition to the tournament itself, the local trio also had an opportunity to train with Saskatchewan provincial coach Fedor Lazorenko at his former club, in addition to a sightseeing side-trip to Niagara Falls.
“It was just an all-around good trip for the kids, a good experience,” MacDonald said.
The weekend wasn’t all good for Legault, as she suffered a dislocated elbow in her second match and will be out of competition for some time.
Next event for the club will be their annual women’s tournament Dec. 15 at the club’s dojo.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald Nov 29, 2001