Often a person's enthusiasm is described as being contagious.
That is rarely truer - in a literal sense - than with Cliff Wiens.
For 41 years, Wiens has been spreading his enthusiasm for the sport of judo far and wide.
Now as he prepares to leave the Moose Jaw Koseikan Club and retire to northern Manitoba, he knows he has plenty of dedicated people ready to carry on in his place. Not only will the Koseikan be in good hands, but so too are 25-30 clubs across the country that are run by his former pupils.
While the local club is one of the most successful in the province in terms of success on the mats, he considers that legacy to be his greatest achievement.
"Success in judo I don't really measure by the medals, but by what's in their heart and what they give back. How they contribute to other kids' lives," said Wiens. "That's how it grows."
Wiens also has more pupils in the province who are instructors than any other instructor in province.
"I'm very proud of that," he said. "That means judo isn't just a sport that you do and then you move on and do something else - it's a lifelong sport.
"Once you stop competing, the enjoyment of the giving back and watching the kids grow is worth more than any of the medals that a guy has won."
With Wiens, 58, the joy in teaching others is evident every time he's on the mats.
"I have a lot of fun out there with the kids," said Wiens. "To watch them grow and mature and do well, that makes me feel good.
"Each student and each person is unique in their own way. To see each athlete reach their potential and be the best they can be is great. Some of the students that I'm most proud of are kids who were troubled. They came to judo and stuck with it and now they're young adults holding down great jobs. That's worth an Olympic medal to me."
Wiens began competing when he was 11 years old. At that time the sport was fairly unique in the province and he found that having something of his own that he was good at made him feel special. He always wanted to make sure that his pupils felt the same way.
"I love the sport and I believe in what it stands for," said Wiens. "It was a big part of my life growing up. Then I became a coach and I could see it how it fit into other kids' lives and made a big difference."
Dealing with each pupil and getting to know them on an individual basis isn't that hard accord to Wiens.
"You just have to spend time with them. That's all it is - time with kids," said Wiens. "A lot of people are missing that. If you spend time with kids, it's easy to get to know them. They're so willing and open. Once you get to know them, you'll find out how unique they are and what they're capable of."
Wiens said that in a sport like judo, all they expect is that the athlete gives all that they are capable of. Ultimately only the athletes themselves will know if they gave it their all at the end of a tournament.
"You'll be the only one who knows if you did the best you can do - win or lose - and that's all that matters," said Wiens. "They can transfer that into their school lives, their homes lives - that they just do their best."
There's a sadness in leaving the club he helped build and in moving away from the city.
"There comes a time in a guy's life when he has to move on," said Wiens. "I'm going to miss the people I've been involved with for the last 40 years."
"I'm very proud of my two sons for both attaining their black belts," said Wiens of Josh and Jim Wiens who have both been instructors with the club.
While he might be gone, he knows the enthusiasm he brought to the club will be carried on by the rest of the current instructors.
"I've got the other students like Garth (Rivers) and Dan (Orescanin) and Jeremy (Williams) and Derek (Porter) - all of those athletes who are carrying that on," said Wiens.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald July 9, 2009