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    September 15, 2021 Lynchburg, Va. RSS |

    Liberty University Taekwondo Head Coach Tom Childress is hopeful that his team will get its first opportunity to spar in an in-person competition since early in the Spring 2020 semester next month.

    The Flames and Lady Flames, who have a roster of approximately 20 women and 10 men for the 2021-22 season, are tentatively scheduled to travel to Chapel Hill, N.C., on Oct. 30 for an Atlantic Collegiate Alliance of Taekwondo (ACAT) event at the University of North Carolina.

    “We received an invitation, but it is still pending,” Childress said, noting that COVID-19 precautions and protocols could prevent Liberty from participating. “We are looking for the opportunity to go out and compete and we are willing to comply with ACAT expectations that we show proof of having had (vaccination) shots or negative tests within three days of the event, knowing that a mask may be required, even while competing.”

    He said the East Coast Taekwondo Conference (ECTC) has put out a survey of its teams to gauge interest in holding a season of tournaments, which could open the door for postseason competition.

    “If we get leagues up and running and they start hosting tournaments, the National Collegiate Taekwondo Association (NCTA) would have to jump on board,” Childress said. “Unless another (COVID) mutation comes along, I would be shocked if the NCTA doesn’t hold a national championship this spring.”

    Childress was pleased to see close to 40 prospective student-athletes turn out for tryouts earlier this month, with a few more who expressed interest not available due to being in quarantine.

    Of the 30 currently on the roster, 22 are new to the program with only eight returning, including junior black belts Jenna Greene and Philip Muddiman, who are the team’s designated captains.

    “It is pretty much a new team,” Childress said. “Like every year, we have a wide range of freshmen through seniors, and even a graduate student. A handful of the newcomers have previous Taekwondo experience, including a couple who are certified Kukkiwon black belts, and we have several with other martial arts experience. Some, on the other hand, are new to the sport and are looking to learn it and we are still evaluating them and give them the opportunity to test before they go into competitions.”

    He said practices have gone well so far as the team members have gotten to know one another before and after sparring sessions.

    Childress is putting an emphasis on community service this semester, with a dozen team members already spending a day moving furniture, building shelves, and cleaning up yards for Miriam’s House, which serves the homeless population of Lynchburg. He is recruiting his student-athletes to volunteer at the Sept. 25 Virginia 10 Miler, a road race that benefits Miriam’s House and other area charitable organizations.

    By Ted Allen/Staff Writer; Video edited by Caitlyn Brown/Club Sports Video & Media Assistant