International Women's Day may be this coming Saturday, but girl power was in full effect at last Saturday's Provincial Cadet/Juvenile judo championships and senior tournament in Moose Jaw.
Sparked by some outstanding performances by their young female competitors, the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club breezed to their third straight provincial team title.
Also, for the first time ever, the number of female competitors outnumbered the boys in the provincial part of the tournament.
"I don't know why it's so popular with the girls lately," said Koseikan instructor Jim Wiens. "I know as a club it's not anything we've done to promote bringing in more girls. They just seem to be drawn to the sport more and more."
Even as recently as 10 years ago, girls division were almost seen as supplementary to the boys divisions. Now they're just as predominant.
It was 12 years ago that Nancy Jewitt-Filteau reached her Olympic dream competing in Atlanta.
"Sometimes I wonder if it started even back in '96 when Nancy went to the Olympics," said Wiens. "We really started noticing even way back then that we got way more girls joining our club. Whether it just grew from there or if it's just a dynamic change in the whole mindset of the population that allows girls to participate in this kind of sport now."
Whatever the reason, the Koseikan had a great weekend and their girls were front and centre. The club won 12 gold medals in the Cadet and Juvenile classes. They also won seven of eight categories in the Cadet girls field. They collected 296 points to win the overall title well ahead of Watrous who had 83 points.
"We had so many athletes and so many of the athletes did so well there was no way any of the other clubs were going to be close," said Wiens.
The Koseikan also won three more championships as Shane Kivol claimed the Cash Open -weight title and the Senior Men under-81 kg class and Chris Hodgson won the Senior Men over-100 kg.
Cadets are born in 1995 or younger, while the Juveniles are born between 1992-94. Some of those athletes were in their first provincials and some were even in their first tournament.
"The younger athletes pretty much dominated whatever category they were in," said Wiens. "To be a provincial champion at their age is a huge accomplishment. It's something we didn't have when I was that age and you always wondered back then were we stood. The kids now really know that they're the best in the province."
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald March 4, 2008