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AAU Junior Olympic Games Start with a Flourish

For more info on the AAU Junior Olympic Games (including Track & Field performance list  as well as schedule & results for all events), visit www.aaujrogames.org

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> For other schedules and results from the Games, click here.

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Originally found at, www.dailypress.com

A night of thunderstorms and tornado warnings turned into a sunny morning filled with eager young athletes at the 2010 AAU Junior Olympic Games.

The 2010 AAU Junior Olympic Games opened with competitions in trampoline and tumbling, karate and weightlifting.

The Virginia Beach Convention Center held the trampoline and tumbling competition, while Oscar Smith High School held the karate competition and Hickory High School held the weightlifting competition.

The Virginia Beach Convention Center took the spotlight when Kelly Gaita from Fox 43 filmed an installment of her local news segment “Kelly Can,” where Gaita attempts local tasks.

Six-year-old Kenzie Weiler demonstrated her skills on the trampoline for the camera and showed Gaita proper techniques. The segment will air Tuesday, Aug., 3, during the 8 a.m. hour during the Hampton Roads Show. It will also be available on www.hamptonroadsshow.com after the airing.


AAU Junior Olympic Games Dreams

Originally found at www.news-journalonline.com
Written by, Jordan Kahn

It’s easy to dream big when you’re a kid, and Volusia County has a special group of youth with a dream so big, it’s universal — the Olympic Dream.

And these kids aren’t just wishin’ away the summer playing Usain Bolt in the backyard. They’re working, sweating, listening, and it’s about to pay off in a very special opportunity.

Twenty-three locals ages 8 and 16 qualified for the Amateur Athletic Union Junior Olympics being held in Norfolk, Va., from Aug. 1-7.

They’ve been competing and training with the Daytona Beach Supersonics Track Club since April.

Around 80 kids were in the program when the season started, but after district and state events, only these 23 remain, and only 21 of those are going to be able to make it to the games.

Freddie Morrell of Daytona Beach founded this city track and field program 20 years ago. And by now, he’s used to seeing big ideas come from little people.

“We’ve had a 5-year-old pretending he was 6,” he said with a laugh.

Morrell said if a 6-year-old can qualify, the AAU will let them run, and he’s had kids as young as 5 join the Supersonics. But the AAU’s official starting age is 8.

That’s how old Jasmyn Dorsey of Daytona Beach is. She’s the Supersonics’ youngest AAU Junior Olympic Games qualifier this year.

“When I first saw her come out in track practice, I said, ‘That’s a star,’ ” Morrell said.

“When she took off running around that track I saw the form she had and I said, ‘Wow, she’s a natural.’ ”

Dorsey will be competing in the 100- and 200-meter sprints and the long jump. She qualified, like most of her teammates, at the AAU Junior Olympics Qualifier track meet in Tallahassee from June 24-27.

Is she nervous?

“Kind of, ’cause I’ve never done this before and I don’t know how it’s going to be because there’s always two girls that beat me,” she said.

“It’s just two girls,” she said of just how far away or just how close that can be.

“She’s determined to beat” those two girls, said Dorsey’s mom, Raeann Boutilier.

And Boutilier said facing that win-some, lose-some part of life at such a vulnerable age is a major positive.

“It just motivates them to do better,” she said. “It gives them a lot of life experience.”

One of the older kids on the team, 13-year-old Donovan Sheffield, said he loves track and football. And he’ll be competing at the AAU Junior Olympic Games in the triple jump and the long jump, where his personal best is 17 feet, 7 inches.

But Sheffield said he wants to be a lawyer. The discipline he’s acquiring in athletics will help him achieve that goal, he said.


Many of the Supersonics’ younger AAU Junior Olympians are still entertaining some very big athletic aspirations though.

Cashana Peterson’s 9-year-old son, Terrell Peterson, is competing in the 4×400-meter relay. She said her son has wanted to compete in the AAU Junior Olympics since he was 4 years old.

“We watched the Olympics and he said, ‘Oh, I want to be just like them. I want to be faster than them.’ He’s always had this big dream about being the fastest runner on the Earth,” Cashana Peterson said.

Travon Killins, 9, of Daytona Beach, said, “I’m going to do everything until I go to the pros or get too old and I can’t do it anymore. I want to play football pro and track pro and basketball pro,” he said.

This will be Killins’ third AAU Junior Olympics.

In Tallahassee’s qualifier finals, Killins anchored the 4×100-meter relay team and came from behind to give his team the gold. His older brother Adrian did the same thing in the 11- and 12-year-old division of the 4×100-meter relay.

Being an AAU Junior Olympian “seems normal to me because I’m used to running track,” Killins said.

But his grandfather, Larry Killins of Daytona Beach, knows the accomplishment of making the AAU Junior Olympics is, as he put it, “amazing.”

There will be some 8,000 young athletes at the AAU Junior Olympic Games, but from each state, in each age group, only the top four in each event make it to the games.

Like most of these athletes’ parents, Larry Killins is traveling to Virginia to watch the games.

“I wouldn’t miss that for anything in the world,” he said.

Killins’ sons Terrance and Adrian competed in the AAU Junior Olympic Games with the Supersonics and now his grandsons Adrian and Travon are in it.

“You’ve got a second-generation sibling rivalry going on,” he said.

Killins said he is especially proud his son is using one of the same tools he used to make sure his kids stayed active and motivated. Being competitive at such a young age is a big advantage in life, Killins said.

“They’re more focused. They learn leadership. And they learn unity, because when one is not successful at an event, they all feel for that kid. They’re not selfish,” he said.

“We’re all in it together, the kids and also the parents. It’s a beautiful harmonious set.”


James Henry, one of the many local coaches who work with the Supersonics, said keeping these kids out of trouble and off the streets is on the coaches and parents mind.

The motto they put on the kids’ T-shirts this year is, “Turning potential into positive energy.”

“We try to teach them a lot of life lessons,” Henry said.

And you can hear it from the kids.

Kamron Lee, 9, of Port Orange, said track isn’t easy, but it’s taught him that, “good work pays off.”

Deeshari Keith, 9, of Holly Hill, is going to his second AAU Junior Olympics Games and will compete in the 4×100-meter relay.

“It was really tough competition,” he said of his first time to the games.

He likes having that challenge to take on.

“In life if you don’t have goals, then you don’t have anything to do,” he said.

Denzel Houston, 11, of Daytona Beach, said the experience has taught him, “You’ve got to practice hard and work hard and you will achieve your goal.”

And how knows? Maybe one day, a former Daytona Supersonics Track Club member will hoist real Olympic gold.

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Speedy success: Lorain club sends 12 to national track meet


Originally found at www.chroniclet.com
Written by, Paul Heyse

Lorain County’s Ultimate Track Club has made giant strides — and in a hurry. In three years, the fledgling program has gone from obscurity to performing on a national stage. UTC advanced 12 athletes from regionals to the AAU Junior Olympic Games at Nor­folk State University in Virginia. The Junior Olympics begin Saturday and run through Aug. 7.

“I’m very pleased with the kids and how things have gone for the program,” UTC founder and coach Luther Washington III said. “I want to build and develop a tradition and legacy similar to the programs at Glenville and Cleveland Heights.”


Gymnasts head to Virginia Beach for the AAU Junior Olympic Games

Originally found at www.olneydailymail.com
Written by, Kevin Ryden

Members of Star Studio will be competing this week in Junior Olympics in Virginia Beach, Va. From left, Lianna Hasewinkle, Abigail Hasewinkle, Hayley Pitts, Autumn Leaf, Lexanna Kocher and Shaylee Hauser.; Kevin Ryden

Members of Star Studio will be competing this week in Junior Olympics in Virginia Beach, Va. From left, Lianna Hasewinkle, Abigail Hasewinkle, Hayley Pitts, Autumn Leaf, Lexanna Kocher and Shaylee Hauser.; Kevin Ryden

Olney, Ill. — A group of local gymnasts will be competing in the AAU Junior Olympic Games this week.

Members of Star Studio and Illinois Gymnastics Club will be heading to Virginia Beach, Va., on Thursday. The competition lasts through Sunday.

There are six members of Star Studio competing: Hayley Pitts, Abigail Hasewinkle, Autumn Leaf, Lexanna Kocher, Shaylee Hauser and Lianna Hasewinkle.

Coaches Tessa and Derek Dicks said the girls will be competing in the Trampoline/Tumbling Division.

“We’re really happy with the competition in general,” Derek Dicks said.

A car wash and Bobe’s Pizza fundraiser were held to help raise money for the team to be able to go to the competition.

This is the first time Star Studio is competing in AAU Junior Olympic Games.

Derek said Star Studio’s tumbling competition group is growing. There are 12 members this year.

He said he wants them to master the skills, but to also focus on enjoying what they are doing. As far as the AAU Junior Olympic Games, he said that what matters is that they have fun.

“I just want to see them do their best,” Tessa said.

The focus is to build positive attributes rather than winning a bunch of trophies, Derek said. “It’s really developing character more than just medals,” he said.

Twenty-one members of 56-member Illinois Gymnastics Club team will be competing, including Kyrstin Weiler, Kesney Vallette, Baylee Fredericks, Ashlee Vaughn, McKendra Barthelme, Briauna Baltzell, Jaclyn Barthelme, Kenzie Weiler, Riley Byford, Rachel Woods, Destini Coan, Aja Davis, Meika Lacey, Haley Smith, Ilenia Hail, Abbe Vaughn, Cheyanne King, Nicole Souder, Lanae Greifzu, Sydney O’Dell and Madison Smith.

Coach Donna Henby said the team will be competing for Team Illinois. States compete against each other at the AAU Junior Olympic Games.

Teams will compete for high points  to win the overall events of tumbling, double-mini trampoline and trampoline. Individual gymnasts will go for high points to win gold medals in each event and to make state teams, Henby said.

At the 2009 AAU Junior Olympic Games, Illinois Gymnastics Club had eight team members who made state teams in all three events. Four members are on the AAU National Team and Stars of Tomorrow Team and will be featured in a special performance at the Celebration of Champions.

Those members are: Destini Coan (a member of the National Team), Meika Lacey (National Team), Rachel Woods (Stars of Tomorrow) and Aja Davis (Stars of Tomorrow). They received these honors by competing against state competitors for national teams at team trial held in Canton, Ohio, according to Henby.

She said this is the fourth year the team is competing in the AAU Junior Olympics. The team has earned 36 medals since starting in the AAUJunior Olympics.

The team is coached by Henby, her husband, Kelly, Catherine Lacey, Meika Lacey and Haley Smith.

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Norfolk teen becomes a national taekwondo star

Originally found at www.hamptonroads.com
Written by, Jared Diamond

Emmanuel Fountain is pictured after practice, Tuesday, July 27, 2010, in Norfolk. Fountain is one of the top taekwondo practitioners in the country and he'll be competing in next week's AAU Junior Olympics. The event runs from July 29 to Aug. 7 across Hampton Roads. About 15,000 athletes will descend onto the area to participate in 18 events. (Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

(Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

One of the nation’s best young taekwondo fighters spent more time in the assistant principal’s office than he likes to admit. Emmanuel Fountain laughs nervously when remembering his days at Tanners Creek Elementary before the tenets of taekwondo governed his life.

Lounging on a windowsill during a quiet afternoon at Park’s Taekwondo Academy, Fountain, 14, darts his eyes around the room and reluctantly divulges his transgressions.

The confession consists of petty acts of mischief: Pulling a fire alarm one week; flooding the toilets in the school bathrooms the next. But the embarrassment manifests itself in Fountain’s slumping shoulders, his cracking voice.

“It was stuff I knew was bad, but I didn’t really care,” said Fountain, who will begin his freshman year at Norview High School this fall. “I always did well in school, so I just did whatever I wanted.”

Emmanuel Fountain, left, practices with his dojo, Charles Park, Tuesday, July 27, 2010 in Norfolk. Fountain is one of the top taekwondo practitioners in the country and he'll be competing in next week's AAU Junior Olympics. (Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

(Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

Those who know Fountain best swear taekwondo changed his life. His mother put him in classes at age 7 to instill discipline and respect. The plan worked better than she imagined.

Now Fountain ranks among the sport’s elite, qualifying as one of the youngest members on the USA Junior National Team for two straight years. He won the bronze medal at the Pan-Am Junior Championships in San Salvador, El Salvador in November.

Fountain will next compete in the AAU Junior Olympics, which run from today until Aug. 7 across Hampton Roads. About 15,000 athletes will descend onto the area to participate in 18 events.

For Fountain, this tournament serves as a tuneup. One day, he hopes to compete on taekwondo’s grandest stage – the Summer Olympics.

“He absolutely has an opportunity to make our national team,” said Juan Moreno, the U.S. Junior National Team’s head coach and a three-time Olympian. “If he continues on his path, if he is not distracted by other sports, if he keeps his competitive desire, he can medal on the highest level.”

Emmanuel Fountain, left, practices with his dojo, Charles Park, Tuesday, July 27, 2010, in Norfolk. Fountain hopes to participate some day in the Summer Olympics in taekwondo, and will compete in next week's AAU Junior Olympics. (Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

(Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

Monica Ford, Fountain’s mother, said she never doubted her son’s goodness, but she feared he would make poor decisions as he grew older. She raised Fountain by herself and thought he needed a father figure. Taekwondo provided structure. She considered any competitive success a bonus.

Fountain was an active child. His energetic disposition made him a natural athlete, but he struggled with authority.

“When you don’t have a positive male influence, who really can show you what it means to be a man, sometimes you just follow,” said Charles Park, Fountain’s trainer since he began learning the sport. “You start to categorize with a certain group of people that may not be the best.”

Because of his troublemaking, Fountain unwittingly forged a close relationship with Sharon Phillips, then the assistant principal at Tanners Creek. She suggested he join the school’s basketball team to release his energy, already predicting sports could prove beneficial.

Phillips said Fountain never needed motivation to earn strong grades, but he often failed to respond to teachers. The two formed a system that generated some success; whenever Fountain felt an episode building, he could excuse himself from class and come to Phillips’ office, where he would remain until he settled.

“I always told him, ‘You have to control yourself so that no one else has to control you,’ ” said Phillips, now the principal at Willoughby Elementary. ” ‘When you disrespect me or other people, you’re inviting others to control you for the day.’ ”

Fountain initially agreed to try taekwondo because he enjoyed kung fu movies and hoped the sport would transform him into the next Jackie Chan. Instead, the sport taught him to remain calm. Anyone can kick wildly at an opponent; taekwondo requires patience.

At a practice for the AAU tournament earlier this week, Fountain demonstrated his new outlook. During a sparring match, he waited for his opponent to strike before unleashing a blow himself. When he attacked, his feet seemed to move independently of his body, as if he could kick multiple times without touching the ground.

Park said Fountain showed immense talent for the sport almost instantly, but he started vying for the Summer Olympics and taking taekwondo seriously about three years ago. He lost in the final match at the USA taekwondo national tournament in 2007 to a fighter named Gregory English, finally meeting somebody who matched his ability.

(Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

(Jason Hirschfeld | Special To The Virginian-Pilot)

“Before that, I was just beating everybody up,” Fountain said. “When somebody beats me, I’ll always remember their name, so when I fight them again, I’ll make sure it’s different.”

At least a portion of Fountain’s future with taekwondo depends on genetics, not training. USA Taekwondo lists him at 5-feet-4 and 105 pounds. Moreno said a lot rides on Fountain’s natural growth spurt and how he develops physically as he enters puberty.

At some point, Fountain will move into the senior division, which includes fighters starting at age 18. Competitors at that level are considerably stronger and more physically equipped, so Fountain will need to grow enough to match them.

Fountain can make the switch whenever his coaches deem him ready, but Park and Moreno said that day is still several years away.

“I had another little protege at age 13 who won medals everywhere and dominated everyone,” Moreno said. “Then he bumped up a couple weight divisions, and it was a struggle. He wasn’t as dominant. It’s a lesson we have to learn for a kid like Emmanuel.”

Regardless of where taekwondo takes him, Fountain and his mother already view the experience as a success.

Fountain no longer gets into trouble at school. He addresses adults as “sir” and “ma’am.”

Seven years of taekwondo permanently changed the boy sitting in the assistant principal’s office after pulling a fire alarm.

Said Phillips: “The picture he was painting back then, you would not have known this would be the outcome.”

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AAU Junior Olympics in Hampton Roads for first time since 2006

Originally found at www.dailypress.com
Written by Dave Fairbank

Hampton Roads is the center of national youth amateur competition as the annual AAU Junior Olympic Games begin a nine-day run today.

More than 14,000 athletes will compete in 18 sports, spread around five cities in the region. Competition begins today with karate, weightlifting and trampoline and tumbling. It concludes a week from Saturday with track and field, field hockey and jump rope.

“It’s a great event and we’re very pleased to be hosting it again,” said Jack Ankerson, executive director of the Hampton Roads Sports Commission, which is coordinating the event with the five local cities and their venues.

Hampton Roads has hosted the AAU Junior Olympic games three previous times — in 1998, 2001 and 2006.

The Peninsula will host gymnastics, cheerleading and jump rope at the Boo Williams Sportsplex in Hampton, and swimming and table tennis at the Midtown Community Center in Newport News.

Gymnastics takes place Saturday and Sunday. Swimming will be held next Tuesday through Friday. Track and field begins Monday at Norfolk State’s Dick Price Stadium.

A complete schedule of events is available online at http://www.aaujrogames.org or http://www.hamptonroadssport.org.

The Commonwealth will be represented by approximately 2,300 athletes in one of the largest amateur, multi-sport events in the nation. The games are expected to attract 45,000 people to the region — athletes, coaches, parents and officials.

Ankerson said that when the AAU Junior Olympic games were last here in 2006, a study estimated that their economic impact on the region was in excess of $40 million.

“I would anticipate it being greater than that four years later,” he said.

Other primary venues are the Virginia Beach Convention Center, Hickory and Oscar Smith high schools in Chesapeake, the Virginia Beach National Training Center and the Chesapeake Conference Center.

“Logistically, it presents some challenges, but we work at it,” Ankerson said. “It’s a great example of regional cooperation for all five cities that host events. It’s probably as good an example of regional cooperation as you’ll find.”

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Tumbling sets record numbers

Originally found at www.desmoinesregister.com
written by Andrew Bassman

As the AAU Junior Olympics open in Des Moines, trampoline and tumbling events have drawn nearly 1,100 athletes — a new record for the sport.

Among that total, 370 athletes represent Iowa. Last year in Detroit, the events attracted 373.

These numbers should not surprise anyone. After all, an Iowan invented the trampoline.

“Iowa does have a very strong trampoline and tumbling presence,” said John Harris, coach of the Urbandale Trampoline and Tumbling Club, the only club in the Des Moines area competing this year — with 24 participants.
The Junior Olympics begin in earnest today with starts in many of the 19 sports — including trampoline and tumbling. Across Iowa, 2,377 athletes are registered with the AAU, with girls comprising nearly 80 percent of the total.

Despite such popularity, few know much about the sport, according to Roger Hollingsworth, 72, coach of the Hollingsworth Power Stars of Fort Dodge.

“It’s kind of a silent sport,” says Hollingsworth. “People know what you’re doing, but don’t know. They get it mixed up with gymnastics.”
Harris calls gymnastics, “like what Shawn Johnson does, much more costly.”

Hollingsworth started a trampoline and tumbling program 10 years ago due to fewer athletes willing to train rigorously for gymnastics.

“The nice thing about trampoline and tumbling is it doesn’t take so many hours a week,” Hollingsworth said.

Hollingsworth first encountered the trampoline in high school gym class, where the device served as a training tool for gymnastics. Since then, trampolines have disappeared from Iowa schools.
“They didn’t have qualified teachers and didn’t want people to get hurt,” says Hollingsworth, now a member of the national safety committee for the sport. “Most of the accidents are on backyard trampolines where there’s no instruction. The trampoline is as safe as walking down the street if used right.”

Hollingsworth worked for a time in the insurance business. Then he became a professional juggler, entertaining at county fairs across the state. On the fair circuit, he befriended Bill Robertson and met his wife, Sandra, a dancer.
Robertson toured while demonstrating products of the Nissen Trampoline Corporation in Cedar Rapids. George Nissen, owner of the company and Blairstown, Ia., native, invented the trampoline. Robertson later founded the Corner House Gymnastic Club in Des Moines.

Hollingsworth trained with Robertson and attended gymnastics clinics held by college coaches. He started coaching gymnastics in 1970. Now he operates the Hollingsworth School of Dance and Gymnastics.
This year marks the 11th Junior Olympics for the Power Stars.


Swimming provides cure for 5-year-old

Originally found at www.desmoinesregister.com

written by Tommy Birch

Lin (Thomas) Yi was looking for a way to cure his daughter Angela’s constant colds.

He found the perfect medication for the 5-year-old.

The swimming pool.

“We’re very proud of her,” said Thomas, who resides in Harlingen, Texas.

He’s also thankful to have her healthy. Between the ages of 3 and 4, Thomas and his wife, Qiaomzi Shen, noticed a disturbing trend.

“She got a sick a lot,” he said. “Every two to three weeks.”

So they signed her up for ice skating, put her on a soccer team and started swimming lessons.

Before long, they noticed a healthier Angela was emerging.

And a more confident one, especially in the pool.

“I just wanted to know how to swim,” Angela said.

She learned fast, cruising through three weeks of lessons.

She joined the South Texas Regional Swimmers team and qualified for the this week’s AAU Junior Olympic Games being held in Des Moines, becoming the youngest swimmer at this year’s meet.

Her 200-meter freestyle relay team finished third in the 8-and-under session Friday at Birdland Swimming Pool.

“She’s real good,” said her coach Dan Brandon

Her 48-inch frame and bright blue eyes have won over all her teammates. Even the older ones.

“She’s adorable,” said Brandon’s 18-year-old daughter Danielle, who practices with Yi. “She really makes us feel like we can do better.”

Probably because she’s doing it all. Yi will enter first grade this fall a year early. She scored off the charts in math and reading.

Yi is not the youngest competitor in the Junior Olympics. There are two 3-year-olds, six 4-year-olds and 38 5-year-olds.

This week, Yi entertained guests at her hotel with her piano playing.
“She kind of likes everything,” Thomas said.

For now, though, she said her biggest joy comes in the water, which she said she isn’t ready to let go.

“You can swim every day,” Angela said. “Anytime you want.”