Easton In House Tournament 2019
The line was almost out the door. Children with their families piled in ready to watch and compete. I was working the check in booth, giving kids their T shirts and later, their medals. The line seemed never ending, every child was accompanied by parents, siblings, and relatives. It was very clear our competitors were supported on and off the mats. Mothers with strollers held their babies as their child told me their name so I could check them in. It’s always important to have people there to cheer you on.
I met students from every academy. When the young Arvada competitors came to check in I couldn’t hide my excitement. I was so proud of them for competing at such a young age. I watched the matches from afar. The bravery and camaraderie shown by these young students was commendable. There were no hard feelings, and no one got upset when they lost. Everyone had great sportsmanship. In fact, Easton Arvada’s Aiden Mena helped his fellow classmates by encouraging them before and after their matches. He helped them understand what they need to work on, and how he could help them achieve their goals. When I saw the picture below of Aiden encouraging Stephanie, I cried a little bit. Aiden and Stephanie had been drilling in their spare time days before the competition and it showed. They have become very close on and off the mats which is something we love to see. Aiden gave Stephanie a pep talk before her matches and comforted her after them.
Soon children were coming up and asking for their medals. They smiled as I handed them their awards. Not one child was visibly unhappy with their outcome. They were so proud of themselves, and so were we.
Soon enough 11:00 AM came around and it was almost time for the adults to compete. This year, tournament organizers asked for no sideline coaching. At first, I felt out of sorts. I was so used to having Coach Ana Mayordomo Garcia there to pump me up. Instead, we helped each other. Girls from other gyms were warming up with one another. I found myself pummeling with a girl from Denver I hardly knew. It was great to be in such a safe, supportive environment. Everyone wanted each other to succeed. I was listening to my pump up music, jumping up and down, trying to keep myself warm when I heard my name being called on a mat that I was not assigned to compete on. They were waiting for me. I was in the wrong place but it was the right time.
My first matches were in the no-gi division. My goal was to do better than I did in my last competition and to have some fun. Once referee Nick Mavrick started the match my adrenaline dumped. I had not warmed up enough and it was obvious to my coaches. I was smashed under side control and mount almost the whole time. Since I had moved up a weight class, I was much smaller than my opponents and it was hard for me. As my opponents points shot up, mine stayed stagnant. I yearned to hear the voice of Coach Ana cheering me on, telling me what to do, but it was all up to me.
After my no-gi matches I was a little upset and disappointed in myself. I felt like I could have done better. But we can always do better. Coach Ana Mayordomo Garcia, Nick Gamez, and Nick Mavrick were all giving me advice and telling me what I need to do to improve my game. I felt cared for. I had this team of coaches helping me out when usually I would just have one or two. Soon I got over myself, and put my gi on. I tried warming up more intensely. I took the advice from the coaches and put them into my gi game. But before it was gi time, I went around to observe the event. I saw people from my own academy fighting as if they were fighting for their lives. My training partners and good friends in class were facing opponents from other academies. We watched and cheered on our friends in between our own matches.
When it was time for my gi matches, I was excited. I was more confident in the gi than I am in the no gi, and I was hoping to execute the plan Ana and I had been working on. However, I faced some of the same girls that beat me in the no gi. One of my matches was 23-0, myself having scored zero points. But I wasn’t disappointed this time. In fact, I was happy with my performance. I did so much better than I did in my last tournament, and that was all that mattered. I pulled guard and did not get immediately mounted, and that’s a win for me. I was happy for my teammates who had never competed before. They were so stoked on the progress they made.
The In-House Tournament is much different than other tournaments in the way that you know most of the competitors and sometimes you might have to go against your friends. But the tournament was like going to a party, saying hello to friends and acquaintances, eating tacos, and having a good time. The whole community was together for this special event, and it would never have happened without the help of Professors Jeff Ake and Vellore Caballero. We are truly one academy and this event proves it. Everyone did an awesome job competing. It takes so much courage to get out there and get after it, and we are so proud of our students who competed. Thank you to everyone who showed up either to compete or support our competitors.