Flames to host ACAT scrimmage Saturday, seminar Sunday
September 12, 2013 | Lynchburg, Va.
Liberty University second-year head tae kwon do coach Jesse Wilson wants to pattern the new Atlantic Collegiate Alliance of Taekwondo (ACAT) after the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) in the New England area.
The Flames are one of eight members of ACAT, which Wilson helped form last year, along with American University, Duke, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech, and William & Mary.
This year, Liberty will travel to two of the five tournaments hosted by the ECTC, the first on Nov. 9 at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. That conference includes several Ivy League schools as well as UMass, MIT, Penn State, and Syracuse, which have had competitive tae kwon do teams for 30 years or more.
"It's given us some good guidelines, some good guidance on how to build it and let it grow," Wilson said of the ECTC, which competes against qualifiers from West Coast and Midwest leagues in an annual national tournament. "Down here in the Southeast, it's actually growing pretty quickly. We're still in the beginning phases of it, but we're using their bylaws and board structure as a model."
This Saturday, the Flames will host their first ACAT scrimmage of the season, starting at 1 p.m. at the Renaissance Academy of Martial Arts. That facility, located at 1209 Commerce Street in downtown Lynchburg, is owned by Liberty assistant coach Jamie Ridgeway.
"For the amount of people that we're anticipating to come and the ring size that we need, that's going to be the best place we can get," Wilson said, noting it has room for two rings and is equipped with a continuous fighting scoring system similar to that used in the Olympics.
Wilson expects representatives from all eight schools, and potential newcomers Clemson and Wake Forest, to be on hand to compete.
"I believe we will do extremely well against teams we have coming," he said.
Liberty features an even mix of men and women, veterans and newcomers on its 22-member roster.
"We've got a wide range of experience levels, some beginners, some intermediate, and some advanced who have been practicing tae kwon do for at least 15 years," Wilson said. "That helps. It's a big plus."
Brian Preiser, a third-degree black belt who competes in the middleweight division, is probably the most experienced team member.
"The black belt division's always tough, but he did fairly well last year and placed in several tournaments," Wilson said. "This year, I fully expect him to be one of the leading members of the division that we have in the ACAT."
Wilson anticipates great things from two new female competitors this year, black belts Kate Johnson and Danielle Gallagher.
"After getting a good assessment, I expect both of them to be very successful this year," said Wilson, who also has high hopes for returning yellow belts April Lyn Handog, who's from Hawaii, and Leah Deaton. "They did extremely well last year, with Leah earning a grand championship at the novice level of the (Jeff Doss Grand Slam Open National) Tournament we hosted at Liberty. Both of those girls are probably more aggressive than anybody on the team. During practice, I'll have them spar with the guys and it does give them an edge when they start sparring with other women, because they'll go a little bit harder."
On Sunday, also at 1 p.m. at the Renaissance Academy in Lynchburg, Liberty's team members will participate in a seminar led by former Olympic gold medalist Arlene Limas, Gallagher's instructor at Power Kix Martial Arts near Fredericksburg, Va.
"She teaches her own tae kwon do school up there, but she's interested in helping us build because Danielle just started here," Wilson said. "She's coming down here and doing a workout with us to help get our club rolling."
Limas won a gold medal in the welterweight division at the 1988 Summer Games in Seoul, South Korea, and was a U.S. National Championships gold medalist in 1987, 1989, and 1990, when she also struck gold at the Pan Am Games in Puerto Rico and the World Cup and World University Games in Spain.