Tag Archives: family

AAU Wrestler makes history


Congratulations to AAU Wrestling member Kayla Miracle for becoming the first female in the history of the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s 75-year history to qualify for the state wrestling tournament! Miracle finished 4th in the 106 weight division.

What once started as a way to “make boys cry” has turned into future Olympic aspirations. Miracle has competed the past several years at the AAU Wrestling Scholastic Duals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, FL.


Written by: Carlyn Topkin

Kayla Miracle-wrestling2

What began as a way to “make the boys cry” has evolved into an Olympic dream for 15-year-old wrestler Kayla Miracle. A member of Hoosier Elite, Miracle was Indiana’s first female wrestler to go 22-0 in the first half of her freshman high school season at Culver Academies and was ranked 13th in the 103 weight class in Indiana. The first female in Indiana to ever make the rankings

For Miracle, wrestling began as a family affair and when dad said no, she asked mom. Miracle’s dad coached her brothers, which led to lots of free time for her at practices and tournaments.

“I would go to all the practices, swing ropes and hang out. So finally I asked my dad if I could wrestle and he didn’t really want me to because he didn’t think girls wrestled,” said Miracle. “But then I asked my mom and she said okay, because then at least she would know where I was and wouldn’t have to worry I was causing trouble.”

After convincing her parents and proving her strength to herself, the rest has been relatively smooth.

“My team was always my brothers, so it was easy to jump in. My dad coached us and once he saw I was serious about the sport he taught me so much,” said Miracle. “It’s been a good bonding experience, even though we butt heads a lot. With every argument, we work it out and become closer.”

Miracle is staying busy within the sport by constantly challenging herself and competing against the toughest competition.

“I’ve participated in a few all female tournaments, but I prefer to wrestle against the boys. Guys are always getting stronger, better and faster, so that in turn makes me better,” said Miracle. “Even though in middle school I had trouble finding competition, I knew if I kept working at it I would eventually be seen as a strong wrestler, and being a girl wouldn’t even matter.”

This is Miracle’s first time at AAU Wrestling Scholastic Duals. Though her team didn’t move on to championship bracket play, Miracle showed that a girl can hold her own in the toughest of competition. Through her six matches, Miracle only surrendered two losses.

Going forward, Miracle is looking forward to her sophomore year, but even more excited at the possibility of representing the United States in the 2012 Olympics in London.

Keep an eye out from Kayla Miracle. She will be making a name for herself in the sport of wrestling.


Family ties bind karate team

Originally published at http://www.news-press.com/

Written by: Tim Ritter

Jean Gruss was fed up.

Tournament after tournament, he would cheer as his son Sam kicked and punched his way to gold, silver and bronze medals in karate.

And Jean was tired of it.

“I couldn’t sit in the stands at these tournaments and let him have all the fun,” Jean said. “Then I was surprised to see how many adults were competing …”
Times have changed. Last month, Sam brought home two bronze medals and one silver from the AAU state championship in Fort Pierce. Jean brought home a gold medal.

The father-son duo help form the tournament team at Kurokawa Martial Arts in Fort Myers, and they’re hardly alone. Of the team’s 20 competitors, 12 are related, and that’s not counting some more parents who volunteer as coaches.

“It’s brought a lot of unity,” said Carmen Diaz, owner and chief instructor at Kurokawa, whose original owners grew up in karate’s homeland of Okinawa, Japan. “That’s how it started in Okinawa, where families would adopt the new kid.

“It’s kind of passed down from them to us.”

The approach is working. The tournament team brought home 39 medals – 12 gold, 11 silver and 14 bronze – from the state tournament, and has its sights set on more hardware at this week’s AAU nationals in Fort Lauderdale.

“That was awesome,” Diaz said. “It was very exciting to see.”

The team’s large improvement for the school, which is in its 25th year, was partially indebted to some new organizational tactics Diaz picked up at an AAU coaching clinic earlier this year.

The rest of the credit goes to its unique family dynamic.

“It’s good support and makes for good camaraderie,” said instructor/competitor Alex Martinez, 43.

The whole team always stays at a tournament to cheer each of its members, even if the event comes long after their own sessions are done.

“And you get inspired by seeing your mom and dad do it,” said Jose Martinez, Alex’s 11-year-old son and fellow black belt.

Diaz, mother to her own second-degree black belt in Ben Diaz, puts it more succinctly: “How many sons wouldn’t like to see their dad or mom get in a fight?”

The group’s fervor even encouraged Diaz to get back on the mat, as the instructor stepped in to earn her own gold medal at the state meet. She and her teammates, young and old, are feeling as confident as ever heading to Fort Lauderdale this week and then New Orleans in late July for the AAU Junior Olympics.

Each will be followed by the team’s special celebration: end-of-tournament pool parties.

“That’s all my daughter talks about,” said Jean McCaughey, who was talked into being an instructor by her hard-charging young daughter, Jeanne Michelle.

As for Jean Gruss, he’s just happy his son found the pair’s new favorite sport.

“It definitely brought us closer together,” he said. “It’s a fun thing to do with your son. I coached him in Little League and soccer, but I didn’t get the same satisfaction. I didn’t get to participate.”