Menomonee Judo’s Paralympic Team: When Trying Your Best is Enough

For immediate release: Colorado Springs, Colorado – July 17, 2013:

What an experience! The team of Paralympic players from Menomonee Judo is back from Colorado. The group competed at three major international Paralympic tournaments and a three day training camp that followed. This trip was meant to not only improve the players Judo, but also enrich their lives. These tournaments were a culmination of a year of hard training. ” This trip gave our players experiences that they will never forget. They showed great class and sportsmanship both on and off of the Judo mat. Every one of them is more committed than ever to improve their Judo and have other opportunities to represent the United States on an international stage. “, explained Brett Wolf, head coach of the Menomonee Judo Club.

The competition was very stiff. More than 125 athletes from 16 countries attended the tournaments in Colorado. These countries included traditional Judo powers, Japan, Brazil, Russia, Korea, Germany and Great Britain. The Chicago contingent was by far the youngest and least experienced group at the tournaments. They didn’t let this fact deter them. They performed on the mat to the best of their abilities. ” This was the first time most of our players have had the opportunity to compete against opponents of this quality. I enjoyed every minute of the experience. I plan on using the lessons I learned at future tournaments. “, said team member Howard Wilson. Wilson, 49 is the elder statesman of the Menomonee Judo Paralympic team. He earned a bronze medal in the 90kg visually impaired division at the 2012 USA Judo National Championships.

One of the very neat aspects of the experience was the social relationships that grew during the trip. Not only did the Menomonee players make new friends with other members of the US delegation, they were also able to spend time with the international participants. The players spent part of their time in Colorado at the United States Olympic Training Center. This gave the athletes an opportunity to be exposed to the best facilities in the country. ” I loved training with players from all over the world ! It was really neat to hear about their lives and learn a little about their cultures. I look forward to keeping in touch with them. “, said Sara Luna. Luna was the only player to compete at all three tournaments over the weekend.


Here are the results for Menomonee Judo from the three tournaments:
The World Youth and Student Championships ( Under 21 World Championships ):
1.Sara Luna – Silver medal

2.Nadia Montanez – Bronze medal

3.Cassaries Johnson – Bronze medal

The Para Pan American Judo Championships:
1.Sara Luna – Silver medal

2.Gaia Iaccarino – Silver medal

3. Howard Wilson – 5th place

The US International Judo Championships:
1. Sara Luna – Silver medal

2.Gaia Iaccarino – Bronze medal

3. Howard Wilson – 7th place

The team’s trip to Colorado was made possible in large part thanks to the generous support of three local foundations. Game On! Sports Foundation, Variety of Illinois and the Jack and Goldie Wolfe Miller Fund all played a huge role in making this dream become a reality. ” Without the help of these great organizations, I would have never been able to make the trip to Colorado. The fact that they showed belief in me made me want to work that much harder to prepare to do my best. I want to give everyone who made this experience possible a heartfelt thank you ! ” exclaimed team member, Nadia Montanez.

In May 2012, USA Judo ( the national governing body of Judo in the United States ) named Menomonee Judo Club, Paralympic National Training Site. The growth of the Paralympic Judo program at Menomonee has been aided by the partnerships the club has formed with World Sport Chicago ( the legacy wing of Chicago’s 2016 Olympic bid ), the Chicago Park District, Chicago Public Schools and the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. ” Our partner organizations have been fantastic. They’ve given us a platform and resources to spread the word about Paralympic Judo in Chicago. It’s truly a team effort when it comes to these programs. Everyone plays a vital role in the continued success and growth of Paralympic Judo here.”, explained Sensei Wolf.

For up to date news on the Menomonee Judo Club, make sure to checkout:
The Menomonee Judo Club – Paralympic National Training Site Facebook page

This entry was posted in Paralympic. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Menomonee Judo’s Paralympic Team: When Trying Your Best is Enough

  1. Scott Moore says:

    Great article Brett. it was a great to have your group at the tournaments and training camp. I haven known Howard for a while now but it was good to meet the rest and work with the rest of your group. It was great to have such a group of enthusiastic youg people come out and work hard with some of the best visually impaired judo athletes in the world.

    Keep up the good work!


Leave a Reply