The Ball State Judo Club emerged from a “blood-pumping and intense” competition successfully last week, with each member receiving a medal.
On March 16 and 17, the Ball State Judo Club fought through the intense atmosphere to compete in the National Collegiate Judo Tournament in Iowa. Although only five members of the team attended, each competitor returned with a medal and two novice members earned third place in the Women’s Novice Team category.
It was senior public relations major Denise Kendall’s first Judo tournament. Despite her status as a “novice,” because she has only practiced Judo for about a year and does not have a brown or black belt, she placed first in her division after losing the first of a two-out-of-three round.
“It was my first competition and I was so nervous,” Kendall said. “It felt awesome, I was really nervous, you can’t feel your stomach. I had to be resourceful and it was so nerve-wracking. After I beat her though it was awesome.”
Club president and fellow novice Anna Marie Graham said the success at the competition was a major event for the Ball State Judo Club. The open tournament featured around 160 collegiate competitors, some from schools with large judo programs.
Winning two of her four events and placing third in her division, Graham said the team members who attended took their experience back to the rest of the team.
“This tournament was very important for the judo club,” Graham said. “We have very strong competitors who can compete on a national level, which adds to the growth of the club as a whole. When we return from tournaments, we are able to bring new knowledge to the club, especially in areas where many members can improve.“
The Ball State Judo Club has around 20 regular members who practice three times a week for a total of six hours. Usually only a few members can make it to national tournaments and they offer up to six tournaments each semester, both local and national.
Graham said the judo team is gaining momentum at Ball State, and tournament success adds to that momentum.
“We’ve already seen more interest in local tournaments from our members,” she said. “All of our tournaments are opportunities to meet other people who practice judo, network, encourage each other and enjoy the sport of judo.”
Continued success will attract judoka to Ball State, Graham said.
“The tournament is also important [because] it shows that we have a strong judo program, which promotes Ball State on a national level, especially to younger judoka who are in the college selection process,” Graham said. “Although a judo program doesn’t affect college selections for many people, it can make a big difference to someone.”