Judo Club undergoing transition

Bonnie Learning
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Judo Club celebrates great season, while preparing to say so long to founder

Terry Whey, incoming head sensei for the Goose Bay Judo Club, says the club has had another great year and is looking forward to another great season this fall.

Happy Valley-Goose Bay may be a small town, but it has some big time talent when it comes to the judo world.

Boasting a membership of 140 students, the club recently wrapped up another phenomenal season on both the provincial and national scene.

Terry Whey, who will be taking over as head sensei come this fall from outgoing head sensei and club founder, Bob Simms, says the club usually does “pretty good” when it comes to tournaments, which might be a bit modest. In their most recent provincial tournament held in Stephenville Crossing earlier this spring, 13 medals came home with the competitors.

Taking home gold in their respective weight classes for the Goose Bay Judo Club were Dawson Sampson, Sydney Packwood, Tyler Russell, Mary-Kate Randell; silver medalists included Dawson Sampson, Sydney Packwood, Brennan Flowers, Braden Flowers, Ethan Pye, Eva Francis and David Burt; and rounding out the medal count with bronze were Logan Lyall and Joshua Blake.

“We usually come back (from tournaments) with a good 70-80 per cent of the medal count,” said Whey.

In addition to the taking four competitors to the Atlantics in Halifax in March, Whey notes a contingent will also be heading to national events in Quebec and Ontario in the next few weeks.

“One of our competitors, Donnie Sampson, is heading to Quebec for the nationals, which will be a qualifier for the Canada Winter Games team,” said Whey.

Whey said the Goose Bay Judo Club has a “unique problem” that every other club in the province would like to have.

“We actually have a wait list every year; we have to turn people away,” he said, noting that the club has been the largest in the province for the last five years or so.

“If you take all the clubs in St. John's and put them together, you might get the numbers we have.”

Whey said the success of their members at provincial and national events are due in part to the preparation they are given in-house.

“We follow the national training guide and also run our in-house tournaments like they do outside,” he said. “That way, they get used to the set-up and structure of an actual tournament and they're not so uncomfortable when they get to these bigger events.

“Also, at the provincial level, there might be 100 competitors, and they may face four or five competitors in their weight class, on two mat areas. At nationals, they will likely face 14-15 competitors in their weight class over five mat areas.”

Whey added the success of the team is also due in large part to the team of instructors, including Mike Montague, Frank Russell, Keith Small, Lou Byrne, and the club's founder, Bob Simms, who will be leaving the area after 40 years.

“Bob started the club 38 years ago, in 1976,” said Whey.

“He ran it by himself for many years. I think he is pleased with how its progressed.”


In good hands

Bob Simms said although he is leaving the area after four decades, and will be sad to go, he is confident the club is being left in good hands.

“What I've been trying to do over the last few years was to build a succession plan,” he said. “We have a strong team that will continue the club after I go.”

Simms said he has seen other organizations “fall apart” after its founder or core instructors leave. He didn't want to see that happen to the Goose Bay Judo Club.

“We currently have six black belts with the club and other strong people there,” said Simms.

“We also have the older students helping out with the younger kids. Its building leadership for the future.”


Organizations: Judo Club, Frank Russell

Geographic location: Happy Valley, Goose Bay, Quebec Stephenville Crossing Halifax Ontario Canada St. John's

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