The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo club celebrated the end of another successful year Friday.
In many ways their annual awards banquet was like a changing of the guard -- while many of the older judoka were honoured for their successful careers this season, a whole new group of young competitors emerged.
One of the highlights of the year for the Koseikan was seeing seven of their members get approved for their black belts. Earning a black belt is extremely difficult in the sport and having that many from the same club is almost unheard of.
"You watch them grow, they become part of you," said head instructor Cliff Wiens who earned his second degree black belt after becoming the youngest black belt in Canada 35 years earlier.
Jeremy Williams, Garth Rivers, Kailey Large. Brian Smith, Derek Porter and Josh Wiens all received their black belts. Stephanie Legault was a couple of points from competition shy in one category, but since she has earned those points she is re-applying for her black belt and is expected to be awarded it soon.
"Their black belt grading felt like a graduation," Wiens added. "I've never been so proud. I've had most of them since they were nine or 10. It's like they're growing up and leaving home."
In fact a few of them have left home and with two more graduating from high school next year, there's no telling how many will be with the club in the future.
The rest of the awards night showed the strong young judoka coming through the ranks and shows that the Koseikan has a bright future.
Shaylea Locken was named the Outstanding Female competitor. She had the best record (22-7) of anyone in the club this year and she won four gold and two silver in only her second year of competition at the Cadet level.
"We had a lot of new kids this year and a lot of girls," said Wiens. "The girls are just as competent as the boys and they're just as tough."
The guest speaker Lorna Hattum was an example of how far you can go as a woman in judo if you stick with it. After retiring, Hattum made a return this year and competed at nationals. A two-time former national junior champion, Hattum also used her judo skills to help her earn a CIS gold medal in wrestling with the University of Regina.
Taryn Montgomery won for Most Improved Judoka. After suffering a winless first year, Montgomery won 12 matches in her second year, the biggest improvement in the club's recent history. Carli Orr was named the Most Promising Judoka after collecting seven wins and six medals in her first year. Jennifer Herbert also won the Purple Heart Award for battling back from a knee injury.
Dave Guthrie won the Most Outstanding Male award after going 11-4 on the year and winning two gold and a bronze as a men's competitor.
There were three Tournament Performance Award winners. Josh Wiens was the Senior winner after completing two perfect tournaments, including provincials. Connor MacDonald was the Juvenile/Junior winner after going 4-0 at the Regina Cadet/Juvenile tournament, while Geoffrey Dupuis won five straight at that same tournament to win gold. He was the Cadet winner.
Tammy Trusty won the Parent Appreciation Award.
Paydon Hillsdon, Erica Nagy, Brianna Walz, Haley Walz, Lisa Crampton, Amy Hughes and Al Rivers won the Spirit of Judo Award honouring competitors who display the dedication and spirit of the sport.
The club also honoured the competitors who earned new belts this year. Promoted from white to yellow were: Lisa Crampton, Carli Orr, Erica Nagy, Riley Goski, Derrick Luhtala, Mike Harder, Colton Jackson, Haley Walz, Brennan Goski, Paydon Hillsdon and Brianna Walz. Promoted from yellow to orange are: Amy Hughes, Geoffrey Dupuis, Shaylea Locken, Elisha Billay, Meaghann White and Joel Nagy.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald May 15, 2004