A record number of participants in the club, a record number of medals won in competition and only bigger and better things predicted for the future.
To say the least, it’s been a banner year for the Moose Jaw Koseikan Judo Club.
The club wrapped up their 1998-99 season with their annual awards banquet Saturday, an event that gave the club a chance to reflect on one of their most impressive seasons to date.
“When we started up in September, I could tell there was lots of raw talent in this club, that the potential was there for us to do really well,” said club sensei Cliff Wiens. “But it’s amazing how well everyone did, even the younger ones who haven’t been taking judo for that long.”
The club ended up winning 144 medals — 58 gold, 50 silver and 38 bronze — in competitions throughout Western Canada. That total obliterated the previous record medal haul for the club, 118 medals.
The club was also recognized by Judo Saskatchewan, as several members were runners-up for provincial awards. Mark PIvovar was runner-up for Senior Judoka of the Year, while Pivovar and Brian Smith were runners-up for the Most Improved Judoka of the Year.
“It shows that this club is starting to attract some attention,” Wiens said. “With some of our younger competitors getting better as the years go on, there’s a chance we could be winning those awards in the future.”
Just based on registration numbers alone, there can be little doubt the Koseikan club will be attracting more and more attention from Judo Saskatchewan — with 62 members this past year, they currently the second largest club in the province.
With the amount if interest that has been shown in the club this season, it’s expected that even those lofty numbers will be even higher this fall.
“Just going by the number of inquiries I’ve had personally, there’s a chance we could have 80 or more next season,” Wiens said. “It means we’ll have to change our class structure around a bit, but that’s a good problem to have.”
The season will be a bit longer for two members of the club, namely Pivovar and Jeff Nelson. The duo will be competing at the Canadian Senior Nationals in Winnipeg on May 19.
The club also handed out it’s awards and belt promotions for the 1998-99 season. They are as follows:
Most gold medals, male — Mark Pivovar.
Most gold medals, female — Kailey Large
Most medals, male — Brian Smith
Most medals, female — Stephanie Legault
Most improved male — Dan Orescanin
Most improved female — Marissa Kerr
Most promising male — Garth Rivers
Most promising female — Kindra Kurp
Hardest working judoka — Chris Gerry
Outstanding performance — Shane Hogeboom
Purple Heart award — Daniel Pakula
Parent Appreciation award — Mark Pakula
Attendance award — Garth Rivers, Connor MacDonald
Spirit of Judo awards — Mark Pivovar, Matt Bespalko, Matthew Byers, Mark Kerr, Ken Blanford, Jarryd Denne
White to yellow — Nicholas Hughes, Marissa Kurp, Devon Ellis
Yellow to orange — Shayne Hogeboom, Garth Rivers, Jarryd Denne, Connor McDonald, Brittany Gilbert, Brie Johnstone, Natasha Conolly, Cory Conolly, Leigh White, Andrew Rinnisland, Chris Kunty Yellow to orange stripe — Kendra Kurp
Orange to green — Brian Smith, Mark Kerr
Orange to green stripe — Marissa Kerr, Danielle Pakula, Kelly Gower
Green to blue — Dan Orescanin, Kailey Large
Blue to brown — Matt Bespalko
Appeared in the Moose Jaw Times-Herald May 7, 1999