It’s been a long season. But the District Championships are finally here.
A number of Oakmont Martial Arts students competed this past season. Of those, several ended up in the top 10 in various events, which qualifies them for the District tournament:
- Scott Weston
- Karyn Graff
- Howard Loevner
- Cyndl Hale
- Ben Griffiths
- Mary Sutton
- Michael Sutton
- Emily Davidheiser
- Gianna Lamanna
- Brandon Trabbold
- Will Mason
- Bria Parks
Not everybody elected to attend districts, but even the youngest had thoughts about their success this season, and advice for students considering competition next year.
One of Mr. Weston’s rules for tournaments is “have fun and make friends.” Most of these students see the same people in tournaments and it’s natural to make friends. Red-belt Brandon Trabbold thinks that is his favorite part of competition. “I like having fun, hanging with your friends,” he said. “There’s one kid I see at every tournament and we hang out.”
Red-belt Mary Sutton agrees. “I really think my favorite part is meeting new people,” she said.
Of course, the competition and winning can be fun too. Brown-belt Gianna Lamanna loves sparring and qualified for both traditional sparring and combat bahng mahng ee. “I really enjoy sparring. I like the adrenaline rush,” she said. “It’s fun to spar and you don’t know if you’re going to score the next point and win, or lose.”
There’s no doubt that 1st degree Black Belt Michael Sutton likes to win. But even he says winning takes second place to people. “I really do like meeting new people the best,” he said.
Participating in tournaments takes a lot. First, you have to have the courage to get into the ring in the first place. And if you want to succeed, there are often a lot of extra hours spent practicing, training and perfecting your technique. So before you start a tournament season, it’s important to decide what your goals are going to be. Is it all going to be about winning? Or is there more than that?
These students have accomplished a lot, but they are already looking forward to next year. “Next year, I want to try my best for state champ,” said Gianna. “I tried my best this year, and I’d like to get something for districts.”
Mary won the state championship for forms this year, but she has no intention of stopping there. “I’d like to repeat as state champ, yeah,” she said. “And maybe try for sparring or combat bahng mahng ee next year too.”
Michael’s goal for this season was to win state champ, something he missed by a single point. But far from being discouraged, the close miss has inspired him to try even harder at Districts and next year.
Brandon has also set the bar high for himself next year after his success in the ring this past season. “I just want to try for state champ and do my best,” he said. “I want to have fun too.”
No doubt these students have had a lot of success this past year. But all of them are quick to point out that success is achievable by everybody. And even more important that practice, all of them agree that a positive attitude and confidence are the number one component of a successful season.
“If you put your mind to it, you can do it,” said Mary. “Just practice and try your best.”
While it’s tempting to think that the others are better, Michael knows the other competitors are people, just like you. “Don’t be afraid of the other competitors,” he said. “Just block them out and do your thing.”
Gianna and Brandon also understand that having a good attitude is important. You can’t talk yourself out of winning before you even start.
“Just try your best and just believe in yourself that you can do things,” Gianna said. “You don’t want to walk into a ring thinking ‘oh, I can’t do this.’”
Brandon agreed. “Try your best. Don’t not believe in yourself, like ‘I’m never going to get state champ.’,” he said. “And there’s always another year to try.”
‘SUCCESS STORY’ by Mary Sutton. Mary Sutton is the mother of two Oakmont Martial Arts students (Mary and Michael) a student herself, and a freelance writer.