Smiling students holding their golden trophies, that's what KC's Family Tae Kwon Do Head Instructor Karen Conover was most pleased with after attending the Phoenix Summer Showdown Open Martial Arts Tournament in Mesa on August 17th.
"I just loved that kids who went out there for the first time and made the effort to get all the way down to Mesa, overcame their nerves and competed with such tremendous success. Their smiles told the whole story," Conover said.
Mrs. Conover said that every first-time competitor from KC's earned a trophy that day. Only first through third place is awarded trophies, fourth through eighth earned medals.
Most beginners divisions had at least six competitors, and a few had as many as 15 competitors.
KC's skillful success in the ring was clearly evident when their 14 competitors returned home with only five medals, and a whopping 24 trophies.
"I've never earned a gold trophy before!," said 10-year-old black belt Christopher Conover, who was smiling from ear-to-ear after his musical forms win. And he should know, he has a room full of them, as one might expect from a kid who's been a martial arts state champion since the age of 5.
His older sister, Kirsten Conover, 15, is also a black belt and has competed in every tournament this season so far, earning a perfect, undefeated record in both her sparring and musical forms divisions with only two regular season tournaments to go.
The Conover kids lead the way for the school at tournaments both as competitors and as coaches.
"Miss Kirsten," as they call her, has become an indispensable part of the KC's Competition Team, not only as the practice coach, but also as a ringside coach who helps competitors in sparring through the action.
"It feels really great that I can help make coaching calls that help people win their matches," Kirsten said. "I love helping our students."
She is also a full instructor for taekwondo classes at the school.
The coaching skills really paid off for brothers Gage and Jesse Roberts. As white belts and first time competitors, they didn't know what to expect when they got into the ring for beginner gladiator sparring (padded sword sparring). But thanks to their diligent preparation, enthusiasm, positive attitude and a great group of coaches, they both earned first place in the event for their age division.
In Gage's division, 10-13, KC's student's Kenya Harris and Aaron Rhodes also took second and third place, respectively, to shut out the other schools from the podium.
In addition to the successes with beginner gladiator sparring, KC's first-time competitor Kevin Schutte reigned supreme in a deep division of intermediate gladiator sparring.
His first place win allowed him the privilege to compete in the grand championships, where he again won and became the Gladiator grand champion of the day, taking home the $50 cash prize.
Another beginner to note is 17-year-old Jordan Ontiveros. He is a talented Gold Belt who began attending tournaments in July.
There haven't been others to spar in his beginner division, so Mrs. Conover decided to have him compete "up" a division in intermediates, along with people who are two-to-four belts higher than he is.
That didn't seem to be a problem, as Jordan took first place handily in sparring by a score of 7-1, and he also came in second in his open forms division.
The tournament was a long one, ending at nearly 9 p.m., but the KC's Competition Team had a great time cheering each other on and spending the day together in such a positive atmosphere. KC's is looking forward to the final two tournaments of the regular season in October and November, and then has their sights set on the AZ Elite State Championships in January. The community is always welcomed to attend to cheer on our local champions! For more information about KC's Family Tae Kwon Do, they can be contacted at 928-634-5165, in Cottonwood, or 928-554-0140, in Camp Verde.Black belts:
Christopher Conover: first 10-13M Musicals, second 10-13M Weapons
Sierra Romero: second 10-13F Musicals, second 10-11F Sparring
Kirsten Conover: first 14-17F Musicals, first 14-17F Sparring
Harlie Bouwman: first 10-13M/F Gladiator Sparring, second 12-13F Sparring, fourth 10-13M/F Forms
Sidney Burns: first 12-13F Sparring, third 10-13M/F Forms
Ariel Allen: first 14-17M/F Forms, first 14-17M/F Traditional Forms
Jordan Ontiveros: first 14-17M Sparring, second 14-17M/F Forms
Jacob Elliott: fourth 10-13M/F Forms
Kevin Schutte: first 10-13M/F Gladiator Sparring, third 10-13M Sparring, fifth
10-13M/F Traditional Forms, Gladiator Grand Champion
Ricky Owsian: third 10-13M/F Gladiator Sparring, fourth 10-13M/F Weapons, fifth 10-13M/F Forms
Aaron Rhodes: third 10-13M/F Forms, third 10-13M/F Gladiator Sparring
Kenya Harris: first 10-13M/F Forms, second 10-11F Sparring, second 10-13M/F Gladiator Sparring
Gage Roberts: first 10-13M/F Gladiator Sparring
Jesse Roberts: first 10-13M/F Gladiator Sparring
12 First Places
7 Second Places
5 Third Places
3 4th Places
2 5th Places
1 - $50 bill!