Some students from the Little Kickers class that went to the Westlock Tournament showing off their medals! Back row: Bruce Whitney and Leona Buchholtz. Front row: Nate Allarie, Zander Smith, Keegan Warman, Conner Smith, Danni Carmichael. Warman, Conner Smith, Danni Carmichael.
‘I’m really proud of these little guys’
Going into the ring as an untested six or seven-year-old against a stranger who wants to kick and punch you can be pretty intimidating. A half a dozen kids of that age range did just that in a recent tae kwon do tournament in Westlock, and came out of it in good shape.
“They all got kicked in the head,” says Northern Spirit Tae Kwon Do Club head coach Bruce Whitney. “Illegally. Every one of them came back and some went on to win gold.”
‘Illegally,’ because at that age, kicks to the head aren’t allowed. When it happens, Whitney says, the one who got kicked gets a minute and can decided to go on or not.
“They’d cry for about 30 seconds and then the coach would ask: ‘Are you okay? Can you keep going?’ Yes was the answer every time, Whitney says.
“They’ve got a lot of heart these little guys.”
In total, the 16 Slave Lake students who made the trip won 11 gold medals, 10 silver and 11 bronze.
Nikosis Isadore, competing for the first time in a few years, was “pretty nervous,” says Whitney. He got into “a war” with his first-round opponent, and ended tied after regulation time. That set up sudden-death overtime. Isadore scored first, and advanced.
“Then he beat the second guy for gold. And we had to talk him into going!”
Nate Allarie’s match was notable as well.
“He got kicked in the head and the groin in the first round!” Whitney says. “It kind of fired him up,” and he won the match.
Green belt Logan Schmidt was another gold medallist in sparring.
“He’s like a tank,” Whitney says. “He just destroys everybody.”
Then there’s the VanGorkum family – dad Gaelen and daughters Allison, Alyssa and Melayne.
“They competed in team patterns as a family and won gold,” Whitney says. “That takes perfect timing.”
Other medallists were Danni Carmichael – bronze in sparring and silver in patterns; Andrew Dyck – silver in sparring and gold in patterns; Shayna Dyck – bronze in sparring and patterns; Sadie Krupinski – Gold in sparring and bronze in patterns; Ethan Mellsen – bronze in sparring; Kenya Ross – silver in patterns; Conner Smith – bronze in sparring and patterns; Zander Smith – silver in sparring and patterns; Allison VanGorkum – gold in sparring and silver in patterns; Alyssa VanGorkum – silver in sparring and bronze in patterns; Gaelen VanGorkum – gold in patterns; Melayne VanGorkum – bronze in patterns; Keegan Warman – silver in sparring and patterns.
Shayna Dyck and Andrew Dyck showing off their medals – silver and gold for Andrew and two bronze for Shayna.
Practicing for the patterns competition: The VanGorkom family and Andrew Dyck.