Cousins Cailtin Knight, Kayla Leonard, Hannah Dempsey and Ella Leonard
Laois Martial Arts continues to adjust and move forward during the challenges of COVID-19. The club which is based in Mountmellick, continues to work within the government guidelines, in keeping their club open. The club initially went online for the first major lockdown in March. When the lockdown was lifted the club went back to its base in the Town Hall in Mountmellick, again adjusting the structure of the classes in order to fully comply with government guidelines.
Head Coach Shane Culleton stated that the main challenges faced were getting all of the clubs 45 members timetabled and into pods, along with the contact tracing of all of the clubs members.
In some cases it involved dividing the club into upstairs and downstairs, which required a further timetable for our coaches.
"The help and support of the clubs students, coaches and parent has been remarkable," according to head coach Shane Culleton.
The club never stopped training since the pandemic started and this is largely due to the clubs dedication to training.
"As a huge competition based club, it has really gone back to what the club initially started out as, which was a positive environment where members of all ages could come to socialise and train. The social element of the club is a huge part of our club members lives and is so important in these challenging times," explained Mr. Culleton.
"When the third lockdown happened, we took our training outside. This was the first time that we trained outside as a club. Again this took a lot of planning and teamwork, between the clubs members, coaches and parents.
"This lockdown is particular lead to the club having its first grading examination outside. This was a huge event for the club, despite the varying adjustments and challenges that they faced.
"Martial Arts teaches us to be able to adjust, become resilient and find a way to reach our goals," he continued. "Our approach to COVID-19 , has been no different. We look at what we have to do to be safe and to help prevent the spread of this virus and we adjust our training to work within the guidelines."
As part of keeping its members focused the club has managed to complete two Grading Examinations outside since July, with over 40 members grading. All students successfully completed their test and passed.
Two students, Caitlin Knight (11 yrs) and Hannah Reinhardt (10yrs) both graded for their First Degree Black Belt. Amelia Reinhardt (15 yrs) successfully passed her second Degree Black Belt examination on the same date.
"Grading examinations are very important as they are goals that we set as coach and student, in which we make a plan and work together to ensure the students achieve their goals.
"This has a massive knock on effect on how students view life in regard to how to plan towards a goal and achieve it. To achieve a Black Belt at any age is a huge achievement and can really show the students that anything is possible when we apply ourselves and work with positive, growth minded mentors."
The club is currently still training outdoors and is eagerly awaiting their return to indoor training in December where it will round off a very unusual year with their annual awards night and their Christmas party for charity. This year the club is donating towards Santa's Helpers.
The club would like to extend its thanks to its main sponsors, Taylor and Conroy Oestopathy, who have supported them continuously for the last number of years.