May 22, 2013
Day 2 – Nationals – Sparring and Team Selections
Last night the nerves and anxiety sunk in. I was really nervous for this tournament for a few reasons. Not only was I worried about how my elbow would hold up, but I was nervous for the actual competition. Last Nationals and Team Selection in Vancouver, I kind of dug myself a hole and needed to fight my way out. This time around I promised myself I wouldn’t let that happen again. I found an empty room in the hotel and just went by myself to do some footwork and visualization. I also took a pad of paper. I sat there for a few hours and just wrote all my thoughts down on paper while I listened to my favourite music. After I went through my whole little routine I felt much better and had a great sleep. I had worked so hard for this and I had done everything I could have to make myself as prepared as possible. I knew that it was time “let go” and let my body do it’s job.
Mr. LeGrow’s division was first up to compete. It was incredible watching him spar since it was great motivation for me. I was so happy that he won the gold for sparring since I knew how important it was to him. He has put so much time in the sparring training and it paid off.
Then it was my turn and I was ready to go! It was so hard having people say that they were looking forward to my fights. I was touched that people wanted to see my progress, but it made me nervous because no one knew about my arm. I knew I wouldn’t be sparring the same as usual but I had put together a strategy with Mr. LeGrow that didn’t involve my arm.
My plan was to win the first two matches if possible and then maybe even forfeit the 3rd match if I was hurting. Mr. LeGrow knows me so well so he would know if I had had enough or not. I just wanted to qualify and didn’t want to risk more injury. Canada takes the top two competitors in each division. I was nervous in my first round since I just had to trust that my body would do what it needed to do so I could protect my arm. It felt so weird not punching so I had to use my legs more than ever. I did all my blocks with my good arm and turned my body to protect my injured arm. I was so relieved to win the first match. In the second match I actually fell once since the mats were so slippery. My body tucked my arm in to protect it and I landed flat on my side. It hurt and knocked the wind out of me, but it would have been worse if I had landed on my arm. I was able to continue.
After winning the first two rounds I knew I had qualified for Spain and I could have stopped but it never entered my mind to forfeit the 3rd round so I kept going. Fortunately my cardio is good so I was able to do a lot of footwork to get out of the way of my opponent. These girls are amazing fighters. I knew I had to score clean points and keep the distance so I wouldn’t have to use my hands.
I was so happy to win first place since I knew I was taking a huge risk to compete but I also knew that I would have always wondered if I hadn’t tried. I won the silver medal at the last World Championships in New Zealand but this time I am really working to bring home a gold in sparring from Spain.
I could not have gone into the ring without the support of my parents, Mr.LeGrow and the help of my doctors Dr. Aeillo and Dr. Noel De Tilly. Now it’s all about the healing process for the next few weeks/months to get ready for the training for Spain.
Congratulations to everyone who competed, and congratulations to everyone who qualified for the World Championships. The journey begins! Embrace every second and never take anything for granted!!!
Click on the image below for 250 Sparring images. You can download copies of the images for you own site and please share this page!
May 22, 2013
Day 1 National – Patterns and Selections
I am the only 3rd degree junior girl in Canada so I was told I was already selected for the Team Canada.
I have to admit at first it felt very weird receiving a medal when I didn’t actually compete that day but then it was pointed out to me that I have been training extremely hard for my whole life to make the team so it helped. My goal is to be a two time World Champion in Spain as a 3rd degree this time. I won the gold medal at the last World Championships in New Zealand as the 2nd degree.
The day was full of emotions. There has to be a winner and a loser and when there is so much at stake like qualifying for the World Championships the stress levels are extremely high. In the final round robin of 4 athletes, only the top two are selected for the Canadian team. You want to be so happy for those who qualified but then you also feel so bad for the ones who didn’t qualify. Every school and every province wants their students to win. I have friends all across Canada so I found the day very awkward.
On a personal note one of the highlights of the day for me was when one of my students competed in the coloured belt division. We’ve been working together privately for the last month to get him ready. Eight year old, Fritz gave 100% in every training and he improved dramatically. I was so proud of him. He won gold in patterns and the bronze in sparring. Seeing the huge smile on his face was magical for me. He was so proud of himself and he should be!
I was also sooooo happy that Mr. LeGrow won the silver medal in patterns. It just means that our training together over the next 5 months is going to be that much better!
Travelling to events like World Championships is so much more special when you have your good friends and training buddies with you. It’s what makes all the memories that much better. Last time Alex and I were the youngest Juniors and now we can help the new members.
Click on the image below for 350 Patterns images. You can download copies of the images for you own site and please share this page!
May 22, 2013
I was really looking so forward to competing at the Taekwon-do National Championships and the Selections for the National Team as well starting my high school Track season.
Things had been going so well in all my training. My TKD training was at it’s very best and I’d never felt more comfortable sparring and my patterns felt strong and crisp. In track I was consistently throwing the disc 10 metres further than last summer so I couldn’t wait until my first meet. I know my shot put really improved as well. I only had one outside javelin training so I don’t know my distances but I know it was a lot further than last summer.
Three weeks ago at track I was throwing the javelin. Everything was perfect. I wasn’t tired and I was throwing really well! Then I took one throw and I have no idea what happened but half way through a throw I heard a pop and my arm just gave out on me. I immediately went to the ER since I knew something was definitely wrong. I have a high pain tolerance and this was not good! It was such a fluke accident that I was absolutely puzzled.
I had an x-ray and an ultra-sound. Neither showed anything but they suspected a bad strain and a little bit of tearing in the pronator teres since there was so much pain. Only an MRI would determine anything for sure but that can take months to get an appointment.
I met with 3 different doctors hoping I would hear some good news but they all said the same thing and they all told me that I would not be competing at either Nationals or the track season. I felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest.
I called my favourite physiotherapist Dr. Anthony Aiello who has taken care of me over the years and he saw me right away. He knows me well and knows how important these competitions mean to me. We started physio right away. I worked so hard everyday doing exactly what he told me to do. I also met with a sports medicine doctor, Dr. Noel De Tilly since I knew I couldn’t be stupid about things.
After getting all the facts and the risks I agreed that I would not compete in track since I simply can’t do the motions at all so my body made the decision for me. I also agreed that I would not compete at the TKD Nationals. However after a couple days I realized I could not live with the decision. I felt so lost. I was actually sick to my stomach thinking that I would not compete in sparring at the World Championships. I decided to risk it and compete with one arm.
I have worked everyday since the last World Championships preparing for these Nationals. My goal is to bring back a gold in Patterns and a gold in Sparring from Spain. I told Dr. Aiello, Dr. Noel de Tilley and my coach Mr. LeGrow my decision and they all agreed to work with me but I could tell they were nervous. Dr. Aiello did a great job taping my arm, writing letters to the CTFI Umpire Committee for approval of the tape and he kept changing my physio exercises. Dr. Noel De Tilly also made sure that I was ready mentally to get into the ring knowing that I would only have the use of one arm so she understood the dangers as well. Mr. LeGrow has worked on my foot work and strategy for so long with me that he had complete faith in my ability and was always reassuring.
Everyday I got stronger and everyone was surprised by my improvement. Three weeks ago I couldn’t even brush my own hair and getting dressed was a challenge. As time got closer to the Nationals my mom came and held the shields for me really late one night when the dojang was closed so I could see if I was able to punch at all. I wanted to see what I would be able to do in a fight if I had to. It was definitely only about 50% the strength of what it normally is so I knew I couldn’t count on it. I also knew that if I damaged the tears anymore that it might require surgery and I don’t have time to recover from that. I had to count on my kicks and block with only one arm. The other arm was going to have to be completely useless.
I promised my parents that if I didn’t feel good enough on the day of the competition I would not compete but I had to at least train as if I was going so I could stay mentally strong. It’s dangerous getting into the ring if you have doubts.
The hardest thing was not telling anyone about my arm since I didn’t’ want my competitors to know I was injured in case my arm became a target. I also kept getting emails from people asking why I haven’t been at track meets or other trainings but I didn’t want anyone to know.
It killed me missing out on the school track season since it was also my opportunity for OFSSA and I knew I was going to have a great season since the winter training was go good. I still helped coach all the throwers for the school team but I wanted to be throwing with them too. Not only am I disappointed but I also felt like I let my school down as well as my Club (Ottawa Lions Track and Field) coaches down since they put in so many hours all winter coaching me.
Our high school and community also had a huge tragedy last week. A friend (Rowan Stringer) that I’ve gone to school with since elementary school had an accident in rugby. She had a couple concussions within a week of tournaments and ended up in an induced coma and passed away from the head trauma. This also weighed very heavy on my mind and in my heart. I felt so bad for her and her family. We live in a small community where everyone knows everyone so it really affected all of us. At school everyone was so upset and the atmosphere was very somber. No one ever really knows how to deal with something like this. I didn’t want to be disrespectful but I knew I had to remove myself from the school since it was really affecting me. It also just reinforces how serious head injuries are and it’s something we have to think about as athletes especially in contact sports. I couldn’t go to Rowan’s visitation or her funeral since I was in Quebec City but my thoughts were still with my friends and her family back home. I wanted to know everything that was going on but I also knew I had to isolate myself for the weekend. I’m still in shock from it since I haven’t really dealt with it yet. I know it will hit me more when I get back to school and don’t see her.
April 29, 2013
Being the Camp Coordinator with Pujan Thakrar has been one of the most satisfying and rewarding school experiences. Every year John McCrae Secondary School holds a 2.5 day Leadership Camp and it’s organized by two selected grade 11 and 12 students. The camp allows 65 students (grades 9-12) to attend and there is an application process since there is such a demand for this amazing camp. I really think it’s programs like this that helps make our school stand out. The coolest part about the camp is that it is completely run and organized by students with the help and supervision of a few teachers. It’s fascinating being able to run a full camp successfully without that authority of teachers. That’s when you know that the students there are great people!
The application process was long to go through them, but they were absolutely incredible! I was inspired and touched by how much time, effort and creativity everyone put in to making them great. So many of the applications were great representations of who they were. By looking through the applications, we picked who would be delegates and which 10 students in grade 11 or 12 would be the Skill Builders. The applications required them to answer 5 specific questions about leadership.
Skill Builders-Students are the group captains. There are 2 captains for each team. They run the sessions and take care of their won group of 10 delegates.
Delegates: students who is part of each group.
The whole purpose of the camp is to have students work together in a safe, confidential and open environment where we can learn about ourselves and also learn how to work on our team building skills. We want to develop as many leaders (they come in all forms) as possible to make our school the best it can be. These leaders will transfer everything they’ve learned into all areas of their life. I’ve attended the camp for my first 2 years of high school and I loved it, so this was an exciting opportunity to see how to organize a camp.
Pujan and I had our first meeting 9 months ago in the summer to start the planning process since there is so much involved and we both have very busy schedules. I think we were perfect partners since our personalities and strengths are different so we balanced each other out but had things in common so we got along really well. Pujan was such a pleasure to work with!
We had to decide and plan on:
- a theme for the camp – we chose the Olympics theme (I might have been a little passionate about that choice )
- book an overnight location that had enough cabins and the appropriate facilities for our needs
- budget, so we knew where the money was coming from, how much we had and where it was going.
- activities for an Ice Breaker night at the school and then 2 full days/nights of activities
- guest speaker from the City of Ottawa on Youths making a difference in the community
- book bus transportation to/from the camp
- supplies for all activities that we planned
- review all the applications for the camp since we are only allowed to take 65 students and choosing the delegates and skill builders
- assign 5 groups plus their skill builders based on their applications and personality types . Each group represented 1 of the 5 Olympic rings. After they chose a sport for their group. They wore costumes that relate to their team all weekend for team bonding. Keeping people out of their comfort zone also allows them to be more open to participate and grow more as individuals. You have to leave your pride at home, and be willing to be goofy outgoing.
- design and order camp t-shirts for everyone
- create, design and print the booklet for everyone to follow – the booklet is full of quotes, the sessions that everyone will go through, and little quizzes and stories
- lists, lists and more lists…….and meetings, meetings and more meetings!
The first page of our booklets reads…..
LEADERSHIP CAMP 2013
Congratulations on making it as participant in this year’s Leadership Camp! This is your chance to get to know yourself and other students at John McCrae and to become the champion that you truly are! We hope that you keep an open mind and take risks through camp and make the most of this experience. You will learn useful skills over the next few days that you can apply to your everyday life so make the most of this opportunity but more importantly have fun!
As skill builders and delegates, we want you to soak up as much as possible while having fun! Try to recognize the importance, meaning and usefulness of everything you will experience with your group!
Here are some key steps to making your camp experience AWESOME!!
Take risks: Step out of your comfort zone! Try something new! Gooo with the floooow! The best part about camp is experiencing new things and you won’t be going through it alone! You have a whole group to help you out!
Keep an open mind: It’s simple. Don’t judge it. Don’t criticize it. Just try it.
Trust your group members: If you share with them, they will share with you. Have confidence in the Four Wall Rule and the Right to Pass.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help: You will always be able to find someone who is willing to help! Just ask!
EAT. CANDY. : It’s pretty straightforward. Your dentist is not here! Neither is your mom!
We are so excited to see you all at camp! Show tons of enthusiasm, have lots of fun and more importantly BE YOURSELF!
Your camp coordinators
Kayla and Puj
The topics of the camp include:
- Communication Skills
- Trust and Taking Risks
- Leadership and Youth Involvement in the Community
- Stress and Time Management
- Problem Solving
- Goal Setting
- How to Implement Everything we Learned at Camp
Ice Breaker Night- The first time we are all together and were divided into the groups. Let the games begin!
The 5 amazing teams of Delegates and their 2 Skill Builders
The games and activities may sound silly or juvenile but they are all designed with a specific lesson and reason to push you out of your comfort zone. The games/challenges force you to trust your team mates. We chose these activities from previous camps that were successful and we also did a lot 0f research finding new activities. I was happy that we were able to include my 5 step goal setting program that I created and use in my own workshops. It always amazes me how open people are to talk about ‘real’ issues in this type of environment. I think being away at a remote location really helps. You really have to come to the camp with an open mind and just be willing to be YOURSELF. That is why there is the selection and application process. We really want to make sure that people are there for the right reasons. Every single person that attends the camp always feels so much better about themselves and their abilities after the camp. There is so much positive reinforcement given to everyone and very close friendships develop that wouldn’t normally happen in the everyday environment. There is no judgement or criticism. All these new relationships just make high school living that much more fun. The positive energy is contagious.
I had so many incredible highlights at camp. I loved every single moment of it. I have to admit, it’s quite stressful even when all the work is done because Pujan and I really wanted the camp to run smoothly. We wanted everyone to enjoy themselves and hopefully not have to deal with any major hick-ups. I had so many moments when the whole group was together, where I got to take a step back and truly realized and appreciate what Pujan and I had created. It was such a cool feeling. The atmosphere was incredible. It was so full of love, life, happiness, growth and warmth in so many ways. It was a place where everyone could feel accepted, appreciated, supported and a place they could be completely themselves. It was magic if you ask me. It’s where I suddenly realized that, wow, this is what it is all about, and THIS is why our school is so incredibly awesome. It’s because of camps and programs like these. It’s hard to describe.
At the end of camp, we do something called warm fuzzies. It’s where you write warm notes to friends and new friends you made at camp. It’s all positive and these messages are to take the time to tell people how beautiful they are, inside and out. I was touched by all the personal notes from everyone on what they thought of the camp and how appreciative they were. The feedback was amazing and it just goes to prove why these camps are important and why they need to happen every year! I STRONGLY urge everyone at JMSS to attend at least one Leadership Camp in their 4 years of high school. I promise it will change your life for the better. Just remember….go with an open mind and leave be willing to challenge yourself.
We couldn’t have had the camp without the help of:
Mr. Schultz for providing the funding for camp and allowing us to make LC 2013 a reality
Mrs. Henry and Mrs. Potter for all the support and guidance. Not to mention all the hours that they put in too
The administration for coordinating all the fees and paperwork
The teachers who came to supervise the camp
Skill Builders for all the time they put in and the dedication to the your delegates
Delegates for coming to camp and opening up to everything the camp had to offer
Gary Frederick at GDF PRO for making the awesome t-shirts
Camp Bonnenfant for allowing us to host LC2013 at your campsite once again
I feel so lucky and privileged to have gotten the opportunity to organize the camp this year. I learned a lot about how much goes into organizing a huge event like this. I have grown a lot from it and I have realized how much I love team building, leadership programs and motivational environments. Who knows, maybe I will get to do more of this type of thing when I am older as a career. I would love to do team building and motivational speaking with either Elite athletes or even corporate companies. Thanks to everyone who was apart of this incredible experience.
“NOW IT IS TIME TO GO OFF INTO THE WORLD AND BE THE BEST LEADER YOU BE! ENJOY EVERY MOMENT FOR WHAT IT IS! YOU ARE ORIGINAL AND UNIQUE AND YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF THAT! GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE IN THE FUTURE!”
-KAYLA AND PUJ
A special thanks to everyone who shared pictures with me!
April 28, 2013
As TKD Nationals are quickly approaching next month I really want to step up my sparring training. I’ve been so busy preparing the Leadership Camp but now I can dedicate all my time to Taekwon-Do and Track since I also want to qualify for OFSAA.
Today I trained with a great group of black belts and all we did was spar for three full hours. It was exhausting but so much fun. I am pleased with my cardio and I’m working on some specific footwork. Like most sports….it all starts at the feet and works it’s self up.
It was extra special that my dad trained with us too. I think he loves TKD as much as I do People are always shocked with how quick his reflexes are. He catches people off guard so it’s fun to watch. My grandpa also came and watched the whole training. I am always thankful that he can be a huge part of my life
Thanks again Mr. LeGrow for organizing today. I am so happy that we can work on these sparring drills together. It’s going to be an awesome summer with intense training