|For Immediate Release – Chicago, IL. (5/5/12)
USA Judo has named the Menomonee Judo Club a Paralympic National Training Site. USA Judo is the national governing body of the Olympic / Paralympic sport of Judo in the United States. The announcement was made by Director of Athlete Performance and Olympic Bronze Medalist, Eddie Liddie and 2008 / 2012 Paralympic Judo Team Leader, Marc Vink. The two were in Chicago for the first National Paralympic Junior Development Judo Camp. The camp was hosted by Menomonee Judo and brought together 15 up and coming Paralympic Judo players. This was the first in a series of events geared towards promoting Paralympic Judo to younger athletes with visual impairment.
“Today has been one of the most exciting days in Menomonee Judo history. We are honored to be named a Paralympic National Training Center.”, proclaimed Brett Wolf, the head instructor of the Menomonee Judo Club. The athletes who participated in the camp come from a variety of programs that Menomonee Judo runs throughout Chicago. These programs are made possible through a partnership between World Sport Chicago, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and Menomonee Judo. World Sport Chicago is the legacy wing of Chicago’s bid to host the 2016 Olympics. Although the bid fell just short of it’s ultimate goal, World Sport Chicago has left an indelible mark on the city. They provide grassroots Olympic and Paralympic programs to athletes who otherwise might not have had the opportunity to participate. “I can’t thank World Sport Chicago, the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago enough for all of their support. Without their commitment to Paralympic Judo, none of this would be possible.”, said Sensei Wolf.
Judo is the only martial art competed in both the Olympics and Paralympics. The disability requirement for Paralympic Judo is visual impairment. There are only slight rule deviations between the two. Menomonee Judo currently runs seven programs each week specifically geared for people with disabilities. These programs have nearly 150 participants. Around 50 of the participants have some level of visual impairment. Sensei Wolf runs the programs with the help of his experienced staff: Scott Goldstein, David Tanimura and Stephanie Tanimura. Sensei David remarked that, “Although I’ve been a Judoka all of my life, it wasn’t until I started teaching these remarkable athletes that I began to learn what judo is really about.”
One very unique aspect of these programs is the peer mentoring that goes on. Many of Menomonee’s top junior players help teach these classes. It has given them a different view of people with disabilities. One student, Ben Glick teaches at a program at Davis Square Park each and every week. On any given Saturday there are between 15 – 20 athletes with visual impairment on the mat at Davis Square Park. Many of these participants are teenagers just like Ben. “I really look forward to teaching at Davis Square and our other park programs. The improvements that the participants have made over a fairly short period of time has been awesome!” explained Ben.
Wolf believes that future Paralympic Judo players will come from these programs. “By being named a Paralympic National Training Site, USA Judo has shown a great deal of confidence in the work we are doing day in and day out. I have no doubt that we will produce quality national and international Paralympic Judo players for years to come.”
For further information on Menomonee Judo and their Judo programs / partnerships, please contact Brett Wolf at: firstname.lastname@example.org