414 w Seltice Way, Post Falls, Idaho 83854

Alpha Winter Soldier Tournament - December 2020

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The toys dropped into the boxes, one right after the other as competitors, their parents, and other spectators trickled into Alpha Jiu-Jitsu and Fitness on the crisp Saturday afternoon. It was the first annual Alpha Jiu Jitsu and Fitness Winter Soldier Tournament. The tournament was designed as a toy drive for Toys for Tots held by the Marines.

Professor Hernando Thola and Coach Brady Hiestand scurried around the mats making sure everything was set up correctly. Tech support was there to make sure the computers were mirrored successfully and there weren’t any bugs to sort out. This was imperative as Professor Hernando and Coach Brady, the referees, needed to see the points and time left to the clock.

At 1:05 everything was ready. The timekeepers sat behind the laptops that controlled the screens. Professor Hernando opened the time and welcomed the parents and competitors in. He lined the youth ages 5-7 at the edge of the floor before going over some of the things Coach Brady and he were looking for. The importance of communication was obvious. At the end, Professor Hernando prayed over the tournament. Then the children were led to the bullpen.

Coach Charity McKinley warmed the youth up via their traditional warm-ups: twenty jumping jacks, ten squats, and ten pushups repeated twice. After stretching out, the first brackets were ready to go.

 For many of the youth, this was their first tournament. There was no prior experience other than the tournament training in class. The referees bowed the first sets of competitors onto the floor. After shaking hands with the referee and their opponents, the time was started and the action began.

The tension was palpable. Teeth were clenched as the parents, grandparents, siblings, and friends watched their competitor grapple against their teammates. This wasn’t an ordinary class: tensions were high. Many of the kids knew what they wanted, and they wanted to win.At 2:00, the older youth bracket started. The same amount of tensions and emotions rippled through the crowd. Some parents were there for both sections. This section, the youth aged 8-13 were started the same way as the group before them.

Parents cheered their competitors on, coaching and encouraging them as each match went on. Some parents gave pep talks; others told their competitors what they needed to watch out for. Though the parents wanted their children to win, they were also ready and willing to help the other competitors out. One competitor forgot his water bottle,  and the mother of one of the competitors in his bracket gave him one of the store-bought water bottles she had brought along. 

Above all, we at Alpha Jiu Jitsu + Fitness are a family. Not only were we able to get together as a gym family, but we were able to provide a safe and competitive environment for our youth to test their skills. Though the competitors showed up and gave it their all, this was an event that brought our family together and made our bond stronger. We were able to raise 140 toys for the Marine’s Toys for Tots--something we couldn’t do without the supreme generosity and support of our competitors and spectators. 


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