The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club is tight-knit family and a proud one.
At the club's annual awards banquet Friday night, athletes were reminded to "hold your heads high, be proud of where you are from. This is your family. This is your home."
The comments came from Josh Wiens, the master of ceremonies and one of the coaches.
Wiens had some family business he wanted to clear up as well.
"We are the premier club in Saskatchewan even if Judo Saskatchewan hasn't acknowledged it-yes that is a dig," he admitted to the packed hall of 120 people after he had paid a special tribute to the mothers, the parents and the volunteers in the room.
Wiens did not want the Judo Saskatchewan comments to be the top story. But he says he wants the athletes in the club to know their coaches are standing up for them.
His beef with the organization is that he believes they are becoming elitist and it's hurting the kids.
In a short break from his emcee duties, Wiens tried to explain the comments.
"Our club likes to focus on the grassroots level. We don't ever want to turn anyone away," he said. "We want to make sure everyone gets equal opportunity."
Back at the mic Wiens continued to list of the successes of the club during the season.
One of the accomplishments Wiens highlited was the outstanding performance at the Edmonton International Tournament. The club sent 18 fighters and brought home 11 medals.
He also mentioned the clubs increasing membership. This year the club had 100 members. The next largest club in Saskatchewan has 60 members, said Wiens.
The club ended its season with 267 wins, 227 losses, 44 gold medals, 33 sliver and 31 bronze.
The guest speaker of the night was head coach Cliff Wiens, father of Josh and his brother Jim who also coaches.
In his speech he shared some of the highlights of his own judo career and his years as a coach.
He started practicing judo when he was 11 years-old. At that time his family lived in Swift Current. In 1968 at the age of 17 he already had his black belt.
Cliff shared just how important en event that was in his life, "Dad worked the railroad but when I got home it was one of the very few times I was allowed to wake him up to tell him I got my black belt, it was also the day of his birthday, it was really special."
When Cliff Wiens came to Moose Jaw he chose to start practicing with the Judo Club at the YMCA. He met with the instructor Joe Gould who had his orange belt said Cliff.
"When he found out I had a black belt he asked me to take over the club. I was 17 years old."
Cliff said his passion for coaching far outweighs the satisfaction of any personal achievements he's made as an athlete.
"I have the pride of having coached three generations. I have pride in each of the students when I see them reach their potential on and off the mat," said Cliff.
In an interview after his speech Cliff Wiens tried to describe how the club has become the success it has. He attributes it to a variety of factors, but mostly to making sure every kid feels welcomed.
"No other club has wind-up banquet," he said. "I know judo is an individual sport but we still stress 'the club.' We give the positive encouragement
"I was so young as a coach myself. We all built the club together. I didn't really know how to coach."
But from a guy who didn't know how to coach, he's inspired many. In seven clubs spanning across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba the head coaches are Cliff's former students.
Cliff Wiens believes the tension with Judo Saskatchewan will be resolved over the summer as the club has a meeting with the group.
Belt promotions were presented during the night as well as a number of awards including Volunteer of the Year award that went to the Orr family.
Other awards were:
Most Outstanding Male Judoka was Michael Herbert.
Most Outstanding Female Judoka went to Amy Hughes.
Most Improved Male Judoka went to Connor MacDonald.
Most Improved Female Judoka went to Taryn Montgomery.
Most Promising Male Judoka was Devin Kiryk and Most Promising Female Judoka was Haley Walz.
The Outstanding Performance Cadet Male was Braydon Johnson and the Outstanding Performance for the Senior Male was Garth Rivers.
Outstanding Performance Female went Brianna Walz.
The Competitive Spirit Award was given to John Fellinger.
Those who won Spirit of Judo awards were Cheyenne Ferguson, Michelle Wiens, Tallissa Edwards, Brock Pearson and Brady Smith.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald May 13, 2006