Centennial Kids go to IBJJF American Nationals
Professor Vellore Caballero of ETC Centennial traveled to Las Vegas during the second weekend of July with twelve kids and six adults from the Centennial academy. They were there to compete in the IBJJF American National Jiu Jitsu Championship–their first time in Las Vegas as a team. The young competitors ranged in age from seven to eighteen years old, and participated in gi and no-gi events throughout the weekend. This group has been competing together for several years, and in this time, many of the kids have become multi-year world champions. This year, the 18 Centennial competitors brought home nine gold medals, eight silver, and two bronze. They placed sixth overall in the kids’ competition, and the teens took second place, behind only ATOS in the rankings.
Professor Vellore has been leading these group trips with his kids’ program for several years. They began when a parent spearheaded the effort to organize a trip to a competition in California. Vellore was apprehensive at first, worried that his students would struggle at such a high level of competition, especially for their first tournament. However, all the kids who participated had a great showing, and most of them won. Since that trip, the young students of ETC Centennial have been traveling to compete several times a year. They attend the IBJJF Pan Kids competition in California annually, and usually take two or three other trips over the course of the year.
Reflecting on the benefits of these competitions, Professor Vellore says,
“I know that a very small part of our student body will compete, but I want to be supportive of those kids and students who choose to do it. I know that nothing I’ve ever done has taught me as much about myself as competing in martial arts, and I’m happy to be a guide for younger students as they join me on this journey. I know what training and competing has done for me, and I started it so late in life. I’m excited to see how it will empower these young people who will have all of the confidence and self-worth that anyone could hope for, and at an earlier point than most. I believe it will set their trajectory a little higher and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”