The Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club wrapped a hugely successful season with their annual awards banquet Thursday night. But the ceremony was bittersweet, as the club bid farewell to outgoing and longtime sensei Cliff Wiens.
Wiens is retiring to Flin Flon, Man., leaving the club he has been involved with since 1968. He said that he's at an age where his body is telling him to slow down.
"The falling down isn't so bad," quipped Wiens, "it's the getting back up that's tough."
But his son Jim, one of the club's coaches, plans to mine his father for advice on the sport and running the club.
"He'll, of course, be a great advisor and he's leaving on the very best terms with the club," Jim said. "With his life experiences in judo, we'll constantly be picking him for information . . . to keep the club growing as it has been."
But the evening was largely in celebration of the club's success this year. Nominated provincially as the best Saskatchewan club of the year, the Koseikan crew sent more athletes to tournaments than any other club.
"We actually had more competitors at tournaments than the next three clubs combined. And we'd bring more athletes to (road) tournaments than the local hosting clubs," said Jim Wiens. "That speaks to the parents and the fundraising, that we can take so many athletes at such a low cost."
The club also saw great success on the mat and in the medal count this season.
"It's probably both our most successful year and our biggest year in terms of people and medals won," said Jim. "The whole atmosphere of the club this year was just so great. It was probably the most fun year we've had, of all the years I've been doing judo."
The elder Wiens agreed that the year was a great one, but noted that the club is still gaining momentum.
"Medal-wise, (it was) not as strong as we've had before. But judo goes in waves, and we were on a peak there in 2003, and we came to the bottom. Now we're back on our way up," he said. "Right now, we're still building. We've got a good corps of youth, good talent, good coaches. We're going to be in good shape."
The club's ranks are indeed so full they were forced to close registration this year: a good sign for the sport, but a disappointing situation for the coaches.
"What upset (Cliff) the most this year was that this was the first year we actually had to turn somebody away from judo," said Jim. "I know that really hurt his feelings because . . . for him, the whole thing is about the kids."
But Cliff Wiens leaves on a high note, receiving a standing ovation from parents and athletes after his banquet speech. He's certainly not worried about the future of the club he leaves behind in his son's hands.
"He's going to carry on (the club), I don't have to worry about a thing. Jim's going to do well, both he and (his wife) Michelle."
The award winners at the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club year-end banquet include Adam Langdon (Most Improved Male Judoka), Brock Pearson (Spirit of Judo), Rebecca Hanson (Most Outstanding Judoka, Most Improved Female Judoka), Brianna Walz (Spirit of Judo), Haley Walz (Spirit of Judo), Dez Henrikson (Most Promising Judoka), April Johnstone (Spirit of Judo), Jessica Daly (Parents' Group Fundraising), Brendan Sheepwash (Spirit of Judo), Branddon Fortman (Spirit of Judo), Kimberly Daly (Spirit of Judo), Connor Ryan (Spirit of Judo), Symone Beauchamp (Exceptional Competitive Season Female), Kohl Henrikson (Exceptional Competitive Season Male).
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald May 16, 2009