Taekwondo teams build culture, anticipation for future events
Dealing with the adversity of a season without competition, Liberty University's men's and women's taekwondo teams have made the most of the opportunities to sharpen their skills and techniques on the mat through rigorous training sessions out of their new facility in the Liberty Club Sports Complex.
The Flames and Lady Flames are eager to put their talents to the test when collegiate tournaments resume after COVID-19 restrictions are lifted for the 2021-22 season.
"I look at some of them now and I know they're as good as anybody I've ever seen at national championships," said Liberty Head Coach Tom Childress, who will enter his seventh season at the helm. "It's really exciting for me as a coach. I just can't wait until next year because I want to see how they do out there, and I think they get a little bit of the same thing."
Childress has helped team members stay focused on long-term goals this season, and not to become complacent, but to remain disciplined in their approach to the sport.
"We're always challenging them and reminding them that if you really want something, how hard you have to work to get there because somebody else wants it as badly as you do or maybe even more," Childress said. "The person who wants it the most, the person who sacrifices the most, the person who is working the hardest, they're the ones who are going to see it happen for them."
The Flames and Lady Flames have found community within the team this season, especially working out of their new digs.
"The team has really helped me personally with the environment," Liberty sophomore Jenna Greene said. "I live off campus, so it is just a great way to meet people and hang out and have camaraderie and friends."
Childress is most looking forward to strengthening those team bonds through travel opportunities, as he has in seasons past.
"Normally on our teams, one of the biggest things that brings people together is the road trips, the hotels and eating and 12-14-hour days of competition and driving through the night," Childress said, noting that there is always some sort of an adventure that happens on those journeys.
"I hear a lot of past stories of all of the adventures they have had, so I am excited to start doing that," Lady Flames freshman Stephanie Yuen said. "Without the competition, it has been good just to focus on breaking down all of the different skills and preparing for next year."
"This season has challenged us to grow closer without having the ability to compete and then when we finally do get to compete, it will be something really fun and enjoyable for us," Greene added.