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Longmont’s June Students of the Month: From Sweating It Out to Sharing the Love of BJJ

Each month, we’ll be profiling three members of our community.

We truly value our community at Easton Training Center. From our students to coaches and staff, and all those who put in extra time to help around the academy, it’s the heart and soul.

Time and time over, we hear our members say how it’s the people – their friends, partners, and classmates — that kept them coming back. The disciplines we teach are important, but in the end, they are tools. They’ll only go as far as the people who use them, and how.

This month, we highlight Karina Madinger, Ross Hansen, and Alex Dent.

Karina Madinger, 11, started training Jiu Jitsu because after quitting a different school she trained at due to Covid, her parents found Easton (lucky for us!) She had already been training in different sports since the age of seven, her dad had done Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and Karina already planned on trying wrestling so she figured why not.

“When I first started here, I was a little intimidated by the people,” Karina tells Easton. “Like, Eli George because he was so serious, but now we’re good friends! Back then, it was right before we started going to in-person school.”

Gradually, Karina’s intimidation faded as she made friends (should out to Bubbles, she says!) like Hannah George who introduced her to the others. Having a different group of friends outside of those at school gives Karina an opportunity to connect with other kids her age who have the same interest as her, and it’s nice to have two separate circles.

Her favorite part of Easton is how she feels after training — and the coaches.

“I just love the feeling,” Karina says. “I’m all sweaty going home and it’s just really fun. And I know I’m getting better!”  (She also told us it’s fun beating up people. Ha!)

We don’t always just feature students — we want to shout out any valuable member of our community who deserves it. In this case, we feature Coach Ross Hansen as our Easton Muay Thai Student of the Month! (Because we never stop learning.)

Believe it or not (you’ll probably believe it) Coach Ross, 30, started Jiu Jitsu at the age of 12 as a punishment. 

He kept getting in trouble and his mom, thinking Ross needed more discipline and an outlet, hashed out an agreement with him — he had to do six months of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and then he could choose if he wanted to keep going or not. So, he did the Kids Program at Easton Boulder for six months and he felt his punishment was over.

Ironically, it took him two months off to realize how much he missed it before coming back on his own accord and by then he was 13 so he got to jump into the adult classes. Since then, he has trained on and off for 16 years, taking a five-year break in between during which he taught yoga.

“Jiu Jitsu is my one true love,” Ross says when asked what drives him to keep coming back, “the physical game of high stakes chess.” Ross’s favorite part of Easton is easily the level of technique and community that it offers.

He also started Muay Thai at Easton when he was 16, as soon as Easton added its Muay Thai program, and today is — as our GM Jordan Shipman likes to say — a true unicorn staff-member. Not only has he taken every class Easton has to offer but is the only person who has also either taught or subbed every class from Kickboxing to Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, and Kids classes.

This month, we feature another coach, a beloved Kids’ coach,  as one of our valued community members — and one whom we are very sad to lose as he moves away to Georgia: Coach Alex Dent. 

Alex started training at Easton in January of 2019. He was fresh off of a marathon, and looking to keep himself in shape while taking a break from running, he decided to try Kickboxing at Easton Boulder. He fell in love with the community, tried out Jiu Jitsu during his trial month, and quickly became hooked on BJJ. He’s been training 4+ days a week ever since!

And now, on top of training he’s also teaching — a huge passion of Alex’s and even his career a few years back. Taking his love of the sport of BJJ and helping others understand and fall in love with the same sport brings him immense happiness. 

One of his other biggest driving factors in Jiu Jitsu comes with his desire to embrace the grind. 

“After college, my friend and I attempted an Appalachian Trail through-hike,” Coach Alex tells us, “a 2,200-mile hike from Georgia to Maine. While the trip did not end the way I hoped it would, it taught me a lot about what we called “embracing the suck.” 

“Of course not every day in BJJ sucks, but it is a reminder that most often what holds us back is our lack of desire to put in the work. When we overcome this mental block, I find it easier to take this concept and apply it to other aspects of my life.”

Most of all, Coach’s favorite part of training at Easton has been the change that he’s experienced in his self-confidence. 

“The difference in how I see myself over the past 2.5 years of training is immense,” Alex says, “and even if I stopped training today that  would not change.”

We love it. And Coach Alex, you will be missed!

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