Taekwondo team building a name for itself in 2018-2019 season

 The Liberty Taekwondo team may be unfamiliar to some, but they are quickly gaining the attention of competitors nationwide 

The team recently took first place in a competition at Cornell, something that the program has never done before. The team is starting to make a name for itself including several finishes in the top three. Head Coach Tom Childress believes this team has bonded closely and that is a factor of its success. 

“A lot of people think combat sports are solo sports because there is only one person in the ring at a time,” Childress said. “My philosophy is different. I believe that you are always a part of a team and that you did not get to be the athlete that you are by yourself.” 

Childress is not the only one who believes this. Junior team captain Brittany Harris also has faith in this ideology. 

“This year, everyone is welcoming, happy and ready to learn,” Harris said. “I have never seen new freshmen work as hard as they do on the team this year.” 

The team ranges in experience from third-degree blackbelts to people picking up the sport for the first time. 

Caroline Cummings | Liberty News Service
UNIQUE — The Flames taekwondo team is recognized around the nation for excellence incompetition.

“Every single year we have people that have never done martial arts come in,” Childress said. “After warm ups either me, an assistant coach, senior blackbelt or a team captain will go over and help them learn the fundamentals.” 

Harris has seen growth in her abilities to lead as the captain when helping the less experienced teammates get to know the sport. 

“It has been a really great experience,” Harris said. “As female team captain a lot of the girls come to me for help. I think it has helped a lot having experience because I can help others because I know more and being confident in my abilities helps to build friendships and the team dynamic.” 

Harris also believes that the environment of the team this year has helped them to succeed. 

“Even though we are really hard working, we sometimes don’t want to go to practice because of other obligations, but we always go because we want to see our family,” Harris said. 

This tight knit group has become something that Childress has not seen often and is happy to see that it is helping the team to achieve their goals of being the best team they can possibly be. 

“Like everything (in life), we want to compete to the best of our ability,” Childress said. “You don’t coach a team saying that you want to be the second-best team out there, you always want to be the best.” 

This winning mindset is something the team has come together to understand. Childress also stresses the importance of remaining humble and knowing that God is in control. 

Overall the mindset for the season is the same among the team members and the coaches, to compete as well as they can and hopefully getting a spot at the national tournament. 

“My goal for our new teammates is for them to keep striving to learn more and for them to go farther than they thought they would have ever gone,” Harris said. “I hope to see that in nationals because we are going for a team award. … I know we can get it, especially with this team.”

Caroline Cummings | Liberty News Service
CLOSE — The taekwondo team is very tight-knit and focuses on teamwork and community.

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