LYNNWOOD, Wash. — Eight Stanfield kids recently proved that a small town can still bring big competition.
On June 28, Stanfield’s Eastern Oregon Family Taekwondo school sent a group of their younger athletes to the Grand Master Pierce’s Memorial Tournament at Edmonds Community College in Lynnwood, Washington. All eight kids medaled in their respective events.
Abel Garcia, 11, won first in forms and board breaking, and third in sparring. Anna Garcia, 7, took first in forms and board breaking, and second in sparring. Anna Rivera, 13, also got top honors in forms and board breaking, and second in sparring. Kiona Idris, 15, won first in sparring and second in forms and board breaking.
Isaiah Diaz, 4, the youngest in the class, won first in forms and board breaking and second in sparring in the 4-year-old division. In the 6-year-old division, he placed first in padded weapons, and third in forms, sparring, and board breaking.
J.T. Rowden, 9, won second in forms and third place in both board breaking and padded weapons. Jordan Velasco, 6, won second and third prizes in both of his padded weapons contests. Amauri Black, 6, won second in forms, third in sparring, and fourth in board breaking. She also won second and third place awards in padded weapons bouts.
Eastern Oregon Family Taekwondo welcomes all aspiring athletes, aged 2 and older. Practices are held Monday through Thursday every week, unless there is an upcoming tournament — then the week gets busier.
“We practice, practice, practice,” said Erwin Watson, who co-owns and instructs the classes with his wife Lorry. “You just can’t practice enough. It showed (in Lynnwood). Some of these bigger schools bring in over a hundred students. We dominated for such a small group.”
The team’s showing in Lynnwood was their first ever in the city. Their skills have earned them plenty of outside attention, Watson said.
“It was a big thing for these kids,” Watson said. “I’ve had masters come up to me and say, ‘Wow, these kids are amazing.’”
The gym, which typically houses Stanfield athletes, will soon open its doors to those from all over Eastern Oregon, including Irrigon, Umatilla, and Heppner.
Up next, the kids will hit the road to Southridge High School in Kennewick on Aug. 17 to compete in the Columbia Gorge Tournament.
The gym is also gearing up to host a “Stranger Danger” women’s self-defense class in the same month.
“We try to teach everything you need to know in two hours,” Watson said of the yearly class.
As for the kids, the hours and hours of hard work they’ve put in to win the gold in Lynnwood hasn’t been lost on them.
“They could tell they did a great job,” Watson said. “They just shined. As a coach, I’m just overwhelmed. Most tournaments we go into is someone’s first.”