Moose Jaw judokans may have been runners-up for the awards, but their sport has been the real winner in a recent popularity boom.
Clubs from across the province gathered in Moose Jaw Saturday for Sask Judo’s annual general meeting and awards banquet.
“We’ve got a good stable executive and a good stable background,” said Cliff Wiens, sensei of the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo club and vice-president of Sask Judo. “I just see good things coming in the years ahead — not just for our club but for judo as a whole in Saskatchewan.”
New clubs popping up across the province have contributed to the boom, he added. And that’s good news for long-established clubs like Moose Jaw’s which has endured periodic slow growth periods since its formation in 1969.
“When you go to competitions, it makes for larger and better competitions,” said Wiens. “Judo was slow there for a couple of years but it’s on a upswing now with new clubs like La Ronge. They have about 50 members.”
The La Ronge club’s speedy development earned them Club of the Year honors Saturday, while Moose Jaw was runner-up on the heels of a top finish last year. The local club has been nominated for the past three years.
Moose Jaw’s Meaghen Cullen was nominated for Juvenile Female of the Year. She was runner-up to Saskatoon’s Kim Hardie, the Canadian Juvenile champion who also won silver in the Senior division at nationals.
Several factors — including partial university scholarships — have contributed to judo’s increased status in Saskatchewan, said Wiens.
“With our club, the (Saskatchewan) Winter Games (in Nipawin) have helped,” said Wiens, whose club is 62 members strong. “Out of 15 members, we had nine (gold), two silver and two bronze.”
He added: “We’re planning new programs with school demonstrations because we’re finding the kids will join if they know we’re there,” said Wiens, adding “it’s one of the cheapest games in town for kids.”
The Koseikan Club will hold its wind-up banquet May 9 at its Dojo (801 Hochelaga St. E.). Members of the club’s competitive stream will continue training one night per week. Some of them have their eyes on qualifying for the 1999 Canada Games in Corner Brook, Nfld.
Mat Meanderings . . . Moose Jaw’s Vern MacDonald is in the running for Sask Judo’s national councillor position. The national councillor represents Saskatchewan at meetings of the national judo body.
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald April 27, 1998