Leading the way to the future!
The LeAD in LeAD Team stands for "Leadership through Academic Development." When our CTI Black Belt Club students get to the purple belt level, they may apply for membership in our CTI LeAD Team with their instructor. CTI LeAD Team members work on many exciting and thought provoking leadership aspects of Moo Sul Kwan martial arts.
Due to the growth of the CTI and the need of always "raising the bar" in educating our upper belts, Grandmaster Sautel founded our CTI LeAD Team in August, 2002. For almost twenty years, CTI upper belts have learned and developed skills in our CTI LeAD Team Meetings that help carry them to success for the rest of their individual lives!
Meetings are on regular Saturdays at 9:00 AM at CTI Headquarters, Green Mountain Campus.
CTI LeAD Team Meetings are led by Grandmaster James M. Sautel, Grandmaster Merinda J. Sautel, Grandmaster John T. Sautel and Master Erik R. Albrechtson.
Find out more from your instructor.
Watching a sparring match and trying to figure out the scoring of points can be a daunting task. It is even more so as a CTI Corner Judge. Feet and hands are flying, competitors are moving around, even switching places …who was hit first? Was it in the target area? Was it a deliberate and clear MSK Taekwondo strike? Or just a swinging of the arms or leg? Was I looking at only one person? Did I have a subconscious bias as to who I think should win or who I wanted to win? Quick, make the correct call and clearly indicate! Then the corner judges’ calls are summed up, the point or points given to the correct competitor and the score recorded. Then it is “Kae-suk!” and the match begins again. The two-minute round can be intense, seem forever, until “Time!” is called and everything was just a blink of the eye. It is important, therefore, for the corner judges to pay attention and make the right calls. It takes concentration, good eye-sight, quick decision-making and the skill of calling what was seen and NOT what you THINK who should have gotten the point. This is the hardest part of all. Overriding the mind and not giving into the logical deduction as to who won that point is very difficult to do.
For instance, let’s say a competitor swings a kick at his opponent who has his back towards me. I see the beginning of the kick coming in, I hear the “thud” of connection, the opponent even buckles a bit, and the center judge mutters, “What a great shot!” Still, I cannot make the call that that kick was a point, even if my mind screams at me that the competitor obviously scored a point beyond all shadow of reasonable doubt. Why? Because I didn’t SEE IT. I didn’t actually SEE the contact being made. At first, this would bother me. Why not award the point to where it really belonged? The spectator in the stands may wonder what is wrong with my judgment skills. I would worry that the point wouldn’t go to the right competitor. Until I came to realize that it is the role of the center judge to determine who made contact first and if it was a valid strike in the target area. It is my role as a corner judge to report what I SEE from my vantage point. I had to trust the center judge in making the right assessment as he has to trust that the corner judges made the correct call in what was seen. The seemingly complex system of having four corner judges, one center judge, and a set of certain calls wasn’t so complex after all. In order to have the best and consistent form of judging, only one judge, the center judge, makes the decision of who gets the point based on what the four corner judges indicate. I had it wrong. I had thought that all the judges were trying to determine who got the point when they point their arms one way or the other and that all the judges had equal weight who scored a point. That’s what it appeared to me to be when I was a spectator. That’s what I tried to do when I first started as a corner judge. It was very nerve wracking trying to indicate what I saw with who I thought should get the point. Once I learned that the role of the corner judges is just to report what is seen that changed everything. Suddenly, what was very tricky became easier. It basically came down to this: Call what you see.
Even in tricky sparring matches where there are clashes where kicks or strikes seem to happen at the same time, this approach works. The center judge makes a decision from his vantage point, from what he has seen, along with what the other corner judges have indicated. In other words, the corner judges are like the extra eyes, the video cameras, placed in each corner. When the corner judges consistently make calls based on what was seen, the center judge can make his own judgment in calling points and determine the score, quicker and better. For the newbie corner judge and even an experienced sparring judge, calling what you see and not what you think who should get the point, is what corner judging is about. “Call it like you see it!”
- Jennifer McKernan, 3rd dan, AMASEA Chief Instructor
Speech given at a CTI LeAD Team Meeting on a signer of the Declaration of Independence
Coming to LeAD team is a crucial part of being and upper belt with the CTI. There are so many important lessons that can be learned at LeAD instead of trying to learn it the hard way as a new instructor. Without LeAD team the student can only learn about being a leader by watching their instructors and trying to assistant teach.
The CTI LeAD team can accelerate the process of becoming a leader by great amounts. At LeAD team we learn all of the factors that go into making a first class leader; we learn about judging, teaching, we practice social interactions in person or on the phone, give speeches, and many other aspects that compose a leader.
The goal for all black belts is to be a leader and to be a master of the basic routine. Colored belts can become a master of the basics in the usual classes, but there is no other place to learn how to become a leader besides going to CTI LeAD team. Not only is LeAD to very good experience to learn how to lead but it is also a very fun place to be! Everything we do is fun and different and LeAD is nothing like any other class that is offered.
With all of master instructors teaching at CTI LeAD Team, there are many things to learn since they all have their unique experiences to share and all of them have incredible insight from the many years that they have been teaching. If a student misses one of the LeAD classes they will be missing a lesson from one of the master instructors that may not come up again for many months.
There are so many parts to being a leader which we try to learn, but with such a large curriculum it is impossible to be efficient in learning without coming to all the classes. If a student consistently comes to CTI LeAD team, it will bring success in other areas of their life because they will be more comfortable talking to people and the leadership training will better prepare them for any situation in life.
The end goal of CTI LeAD team is to help students to one day become a good instructor who is making a difference in their students lives and in their own life.
- Tyler Murphy, 3rd dan, Chief Instructor, Golden Campus
By embracing, joining, and acknowledging CTI as our team, how we act and how we are perceived reflects on our team and their leaders. So if we embrace the tenents of CTI – these naturally revolve around the leadership qualities CTI asserts. Leaders/CTI students need to have CIPSI – Courtesy, Integrity, Perseverance, Self Control, and Indomitable Spirit. CTI students are shaped from the beginning to be leaders whether that be in class, in the home, or in the community. World Class leaders are those who not only take charge of things – they are people who do it while embracing the CIPSI tenents. This sets them apart and therefore sets us as CIT students apart from the rest. This enables us to accomplish great things in our sphere of influence – and that reflects on our own CTI team and its reputation and what it stands for – which is much, much, more than just another martial arts school.
Now that we are motivated leaders who have the training and support of the CTI family and its leadership – what do we do with that? First, we act as examples because, in the end, that is what people see and judge you and your associations by. We use self control – we are not martial arts bullies; we are martial arts examples of showing respect for others and respect for ourselves by showing self control and integrity. We act with courtesy and politeness (e.g. thanking those that serve us meals like at the symposium). We take part in bettering our community with active participation in food drives and by seeking out and finding other avenues to give back such as volunteering.
Our team – the community, our home, our work/school – needs and wants leaders that they can count on and trust and want to be a part of. Like moths to a flame, but with a somewhat less grisly outcome of getting burned to a crisp, our community will be drawn to us by our example and leadership. And, in the end, we are able to even more effectively now make a change for the good in all that we endeavor because we have the natural leadership qualities necessary to affect change and foster a stronger community.
- Lynne Dean, 1st dan, CTI Masters Club Member
Below, are a few short scenes of two CTI LeAD Team members presenting their speeches on their sports role models.
As a CTI upper belt, one of the responsibilities we are expected to uphold is helping the school by assisting in classes. There are two very good reasons for this. One reason is to help the instructors get more accomplished and therefore allow the students to learn even more in the same amount of time. Assisting in class is also invaluable to an upper belt as it enhances their own personal training experience.
Being an assistant in class is very beneficial to the instructor of that class. The entire class can progress faster when there are more people available to give instruction, providing more opportunities to fine tune techniques that need a little extra attention. This also creates the opportunity to add more moves to a poomse for the students, which can have a positive impact in the class by being very productive and helping students to advance their training efficiently and effectively. When students feel as though they are making progress, it can give them motivation through the sense of accomplishment and become even more excited to advance to the next step, encouraging them to continue their efforts in learning.
Assisting in class is not only helpful the instructor and students of that class, it also has a great many benefits to the CTI upper belt. A whole new set of skills are learned with assisting which are necessary as a CTI instructor. Learning how to be able to focus intently on a task while listening for cues from the instructor, maintaining spatial awareness, and ensuring a student is also focused are necessary skills to acquire. They also encourage and help develop the ability to multitask—which is useful not only in class but in many aspects of life. Working with other students can often bring up a variety of questions with each repetition, and breaking down each movement really helps us and the student to understand the technique. Being able to explain those techniques in multiple ways which a student can understand is a great way to become more familiar with the move yourself. The ability to explain techniques in different ways is essential as everyone learns differently; what may be understood by one person might be confusing to another. This individuality can also lead to new questions about the techniques to be answered, thus further expanding our knowledge. In doing repetitions with a student we also have to be aware of how our own techniques and stances look, ensuring that they are correct to be able to demonstrate how they should appear to the student. Physically demonstrating moves not only gives them a visual aid but also allows us an opportunity for even more practice of finer details.
By spending time working with other students, the CTI upper belt gets to experience a much more complex level of training compared to simply attending regular classes. This helps to advance and round out our knowledge, as well as help prepare us for leadership roles as a CTI black belt. On top of this, we are also doing our own campus a wonderful service by being there to help support it and grow!
- Lauren Smith, 1st dan CTI Masters Club Member
Below, is a demonstration members of the CTI LeAD Team recently did. It took place at the Barefoot Bluegrass Festival at Beaver Ranch in Conifer. The team had seven minutes to educate the crowd on how we operate with the bare foot thing!
Leadership is a necessity in life and in Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo. It’s needed to accomplish the goals we’ve set for ourselves, and the goals we’ve helped establish for our students.
Students look up to their instructor to lead them down the path of knowledge and success. They trust us to challenge them to grow physically, in technique, and in maturity. Instructors are responsible to educate students about Taekwondo history, philosophy, time tested movements, and the discipline of self-control and self-defense.
Students will only follow leaders who have integrity and put the well-being of their students at the top of their priority list. They will also follow instructors who lead by example. These instructors will never direct a student to do what he or she is not doing or has not done at some point in time during their own training.
Students grow to respect the instructors who show a sincere dedication and commitment to their student’s training as well as their own training. These instructors are the ones who push hard in every class, attend the extra activities that CTI offers, and give back the respect they receive.
Leaders are always learning. It is human nature to make mistakes and leaders are not immune to this, but a good leader will learn from his mistakes.
For me, leadership has always meant leading from the front. It’s about getting people, young and old, to do what must be done. It takes inner strength and lots of preparation for an instructor to succeed at leading. It’s being prepared, that arms the instructor with the ability to make decisions, and understand how each of their students learn. General Douglas MacArthur defined a true leader as “someone who has the confidence to stand alone, the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to listen to the needs of others. He does not set out to be a leader, but becomes one by the equality of his actions and of integrity of his interest.”
Leadership is a quality that a good instructor wants. Take a look at yourself and your leadership skills. Fine-tune them like everything else you fine-tune in Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo. Develop the skill of leadership and success will always follow.
Grandmaster Hildebrand teaching at MSK Summer Expo XXVIII
(Excerpts from a speech made by Peyton Brauch, 1st dan, at a recent CTI LeAD Team Meeting)
Glenna Collett-Vare was born in New Haven, Connecticut June 20, 1903. She was raised in Providence, Rhode Island by her parents who were very focused in athletics. At a young age she was involved in swimming and diving, and at the age of 14 she took up a new hobby, golfing. When she was 16 she competed in the 1919 U.S. Women’s Amateur and won her first round. The U.S. Women’s Amateur was the most prestigious event in the country at that time. In the year 1924 she had set a world record beating both the male competition and the female one by winning 59 of 60 matches. The last match, however, she lost in the 19th hole when Mary K. Browne’s ball bounced off of collet’s and into the hole. In the year 1925 Glenna Collett won again in the U.S. Women’s Amateur and gained three consecutive titles between 1928 and 1930. She also recorded 16 consecutive tournament victories between 1928 and 1931. She won six North and South Women's Amateurs, six Women's Eastern Amateurs, and in between this she was the runner-up in the 1929 and 1930 British Ladies Amateurs. Glenna Collett also traveled to France where she won the French Woman’s Amateur. Collett Then married Edwin H. Vare Jr. and had 2 children, Glenna Vare and Edwin C. Vare. She then returned in 1934 and won her 6th U.S. Championship in 1935. Glenna Collett-Vare was a member of the American team that won the first Curtis Cup. She then was a team captain in 1934, 1936, 1938, and 1948. After winning 49 championships, she ended her competitive golf career at the age of 56, with a victory at the 1959 Rhode Island Women's Golf Association tournament. She wrote 2 books in her career about golf, Golf for Young Players (1926) and Ladies in the Rough (1928). Since 1953 she was awarded the Vare Trophy by the Ladies Professional Golf Association. In 1965 Collett Vare received the Bob Jones Award and in 1975 was a part of the first class inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame. When she was 81 she was a 15 handicap and played in her 61st consecutive invitational event. Glenna Collett Vare later passed away in 1989 at the age of 85. Glenna Collett Vare represented good sportsmanship throughout all of her life and career. “Aside from her skill with her clubs, Miss Collett typified all that the word ‘sportsmanship’ stands for.” -Bobby Jones. I like to think of her as very inspiring when it comes to sportsmanship because she was very patient and if she lost she was always looking to her instructor, Ernest Jones, for help and things to work on.
(Excerpts for a speech by Tyler Murphy, red belt, at a recent CTI LeAD Team Meeting)
Jack Roosevelt Robinson or Jackie Robinson as many of you know him was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball. He was born January 31, 1919 in Cairo Georgia. Robinson was raised by a single mother, which caused the family to move to Pasadena, California where Jackie Robinson attended John Muir High School and eventually Pasadena Junior College. In high school Robinson played five sports at the varsity level. He played football, basketball, track, tennis, and baseball. In all of these sports most of his teammates were white and he was often the only black player. At Pasadena Junior College he was recognized as the most valuable player in the region for baseball. Since there was much racism at the time this was often an issue for him. On one occasion he was arrested for vocally disputing the arrest of one of his black friends. He received a 2 year suspension for this. Toward the end of his time at Pasadena Junior College his brother Frank Robinson was killed in a motorcycle accident, which motivated Jackie Robinson to pursue athletics even more vigorously than he had before. After his graduation from Pasadena Junior College he then transferred into UCLA where he was the first person to ever win four varsity letters at that college. While he was at UCLA, he had success in all of his sports except for baseball. He only played one season of Baseball and his batting average was only .097. After leaving UCLA just before his graduation he preceded to pursue athletics by joining a football team. Just when he was trying to become a running back for the Los Angeles Bulldogs the U.S. had entered World War II and Robinson eventually had to serve.
Initially, Robinson was placed into a segregated Army cavalry unit in Fort Riley, Kansas. Since Robinson had the prerequisites to pass admission into an Officer Candidate School he applied and was ignored for months since he was black. He was only accepted when Truman Gibson, who was an assistant to the Secretary of War, stepped in to help. After completing the school he was commissioned as a second Lieutenant and reassigned to Fort Hood Texas to the 761st “Black Panthers” Tank Battalion. On July 6 1944 Robinson was put onto an army bus and was ordered by the driver to sit in the back. Robinson refused and because of this event he received an Honorable discharge in November of 1944. Following the discharge from the army, Robinson continued his pursuit for sports and was eventually accepted to play for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. While playing for the Monarchs he was often appalled by the disorganization, but he continued to play 47 games with a batting average of .387. He also had five home runs, and 13 stolen bases. Jackie Robinson later signed to become a player for the Montreal Royals in the International League. He Received 600 dollars a month, which is equal to about 7500 dollars today. Jackie Robinson was the first black baseball player to play in the International League since the 1880s. With the Montreal Royals Robinson became the first black player to openly play for a minor league team against a major league team since the 1880s. While Jackie Robinson was playing in the minor leagues he continued to lead his team to victory. On several occasions and he also greatly increased the crowd size. Whether it was because people hated him or people loved him they all came to games to see a black man playing in the minor leagues. Due to his successful performance he was named the MVP of the International League.
In 1947 the Dodgers called Robinson to play in the major leagues as a first basemen. This event also greatly increased the crowd size because the black fans would come to view a major league game to support Jackie Robinson. There was tension between him and the rest of the players on the team but the team manager, Leo Durocher, set them all straight. Jackie Robinson was not always treated fairly on the field though. In several occasions he was a target for rough physical play on the field. Enos Slaughter, a player for the Phillies, gave Robinson a seven inch gash on his leg during one of the games. Robinson pushed through all of these difficulties and played 151 games that season and did quite well with 175 hits, 12 home runs, 28 sacrifice hits, and 29 stolen bases. He was given the Rookie of the Year Award for his great performance. 1948 began to bring new black players into the major leagues so Jackie Robinson was no longer completely alone. In 1949 Robinson continued to strive for improvement and worked on his batting. He spent hours trying to become better at the plate. That year he improved his batting average from a .296 to a .342. That year he also stole 37 bases and had 124 RBIs. Once again he was given the award of MVP for the National League and that year he was the starting second baseman in the 1949 All-Star Game making that the first All-Star Game to include black players. In 1951 Jackie Robinson was paid 35,000 dollars which is equal to about 334,000 today. Over the next few years Robinson had a fairly average career with racial issues occurring frequently, but he still persevered and stayed on track for a peaceful career. He then began to focus more on becoming part of the organization and not a player since he was 36 years old and he began to decline. The Dodgers won the World Series in 1955 and Jackie Robinson retired after the 1956 season to become an executive with the company. Jackie Robinson had three kids with his wife Rachael Robinson. His oldest son Jackie Robinson Jr. had a troubled life with drug addiction issues. When he had conquered these issues he sadly died in a car accident at 24 and this influenced Jackie Robinson Sr. to become an anti-drug activist during his later years. Jackie Robinson Sr. died shortly after on October 24, 1972 at the age of 53. His funeral service attracted 2,500 people and tens of thousands of people lined the procession route to his funeral. Robinson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962 and his number, 42, has been retired by all MLB teams. As Taekwondo students we should be inspired by Jackie Robinson because he was not given any of his success, he had to earn it. It was not an easy path for him since he had to break through the racial barrier. He tried relentlessly and practiced to be the best that he could. We should try and do the same and earn our way through all of our belts and constantly improve at what we do.
(Excerpts from a speech by Collin Kreutz, red belt, at a recent CTI LeAD Team Meeting)
Michael Jordan was born on February 17, 1963 in Brooklyn, New York. When Jordan was a toddler, his family moved to Wilmington, North Carolina, where he attended Emsley A. Laney. While in high school, he played baseball, football, and basketball. He tried out for the varsity basketball team his sophomore year, but didn’t make the team because he was too short at 5’11’’.
Jordan became the star of the junior varsity team, achieving numerous 40 point games. In his junior and senior year, he did make the varsity team, and even averaged a triple-double his senior year in points, rebounds, and assists.
Michael Jordan earned a scholarship to the University of North Carolina. His freshman year, he won the ACC Freshman of the Year award, and made the game-winning shot in the 1982 National Championship. He was selected by the NCAA All-American First Team in his sophomore and senior year, and left college one year early to enter the NBA Draft. He later returned to North Carolina in 1986 to complete his degree.
Jordan was selected my the Chicago Bulls with the 3rd overall pick in the 1984 NBA Draft. His rookie year in the NBA, Jordan averaged 28 points per game and was voted as an All-Star starter by the fans. Many veteran players were upset about the amount of attention Jordan got, and refused to pass him the ball in the All-Star game. The Bulls finished the season by losing in the first round of the playoffs, and Jordan was selected as Rookie of the Year.
Jordan also set many records, such as points in a playoff game (63), he was one of the only 2 players to score 3,000 points in a single season, and the only player in NBA history to achieve 200 steals and 100 blocks in a single season. Jordan also won his first MVP award in the 1987 season.
From 1990-1993, Jordan and the Bulls finally were able to pull off a NBA Finals Championship, 3 in a row in fact. He was named NBA Finals MVP in each of theses 3 championships, and was the first player to ever do that. Jordan retired from basketball in 1993, but came back to the game in 1995, were he once again won 3 championships in a row, making his total of 6 NBA trophies. Michael Jordan also won 2 Olympic gold medals, and officially retired in 2003.
Michael Jordan is a hero to me because of his perseverance and confidence. Even though he didn’t make the varsity basketball team in his sophomore year in high school, he continued to pursue his dream and ended up being the one of the best players in NBA history. He always gave 100% and tried his best on everything he did. Jordan never gave up, even if it didn’t look like they were going to win a game or make a shot. He continued to give all he had throughout the whole process. He had great sportsmanship and never got frustrated at a loss or a bad call. All of these qualities must also be possessed in order to be successful in Moo Sul Kwan Taekwondo. This is why Michael Jordan is such a great competitor, and is my sports hero.
(Excerpts from a speech by Eric Evans, 1st dan, at a CTI LeAD Team Meeting)
Five Years ago if you asked me who was my favorite football player, I probably would have said John Elway. That has changed. Now I would ask you, do you mean American football or Soccer? Our family has been blessed with Aupairs from Brazil for over 8 years. These women have enriched our family and opened our eyes and minds to the beautiful Brazilian culture they were raised in. One fact I learned very early is that Brazilians love Football. However, 5 years ago I did not know just how much they love football. It was at that time that our second Aupair, Renata brought me a football jersey from Brazil. I was pleased to receive the gift, but I had no idea just how important this gift was. It was signed to me personally by a very respected and remarkable man.
Edson Arantes do Nascimento was born October of 1940. Although his birth certificate states it was October 21st, he claims it was the 23rd in his autobiography. Edson was named after the american inventor Thomas Edison. His parents decided to remove the i. Edson was born to play football. He did not allow his family’s poverty to stop him. In his youth he frequently played with a sock filled with newspaper or a grapefruit. As he aged, his skill increased and provided him the framework to win his first world cup at 17 with Santos Futebol Clube. He also scored an amazing 58 goals during the 1958 tournament. A record that still holds today. In Brazil, Edson has many names such as “O Rei do Futebol” or “O Rei” which means the King of football or the King. After the 1962 World Cup, he was declared a “official national treasure” by the government of Brazil, preventing him from being transferred out of the country. On November 19th, 1969, he scored his 1000th goal. This moment was named the thoushandth in Brazil or “O Mile’simo.” He is a national icon and still respected today world wide even after retiring in 1977. His nickname is the most well known. He received his nickname as he consistently mis-pronounced his favorite football player’s name Bile’. Pele’ states in his autobiography that he does not really know what his name means, but it does have origins from the Hebrew word Bile’ which means miracle. In all Pele scored 1281 goals in 1363 games. He played centre forward. His career is overwhelming and very intimidating. However, he did not forget where he came from. He continually focused on improving the poverty in Brazil throughout his career. He is seen as a national hero and a roll model for all football players.
Articles and biographies state that Pel’e’s success is partially due to his natural talent. I believe that it is his love of the game and his perseverance during his childhood years that drove his success. There are two pictures I have found of Pel’e crying. One is after Brazil won the 1958 World Cup. The other is at the retirement of his number in 1977. This tells me that he gave the game his all. Everything he could emotionally and physically put into the game was provided every time he took the field.
(Excerpts from a speech by Jennifer McKernan, purple belt, at a CTI LeAD Team Meeting)
In the world of sports, athletes compete against each other either individually or within teams. Some of these sports have judges that score the athlete’s performance, both objectively and subjectively, based on a predetermined scoring system. For instance, gymnastics, ice-skating, diving and even our Taekwondo poomses at CTI are based on a 10-point scoring system. Even though we say it is impossible to get the perfect 10, unless the judges inadvertently began scoring too high, there has been some athletes who have gotten 10’s. Does anyone know who of any athlete who has scored a 10? How about the first person to score a 10 in the Olympics? Well, Nadia Comaneci was the first person to score a perfect 10 in women’s gymnastics at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, making the unobtainable possible, as scoring a perfect 10 was basically unheard of back then. She was only 14 years old when it happened. Her amazing aerial handsprings series and double-twisted dismounts were so mind-blowing that they captivated the world, and even her compulsory routines were done with such good form, speed and height compared to the other competitors, that there is no wonder she was awarded a 10! By the end of the Montreal Olympics, Nadia would have scored seven 10s, taking home three gold medals, a silver and a bronze, and in doing so, changed the history of gymnastics--both in style and scoring.
Nadia was born in Onesti, Romania, on November 12, 1961. When she was 6 years old, she caught the eye of Bela Karolyi, a gymnastic coach, while playing around doing gymnastics in the school playground. He invited Nadia to be a part of his gymnastics sports program to the relief of her mother since she already had broken 4 sofa’s by jumping on them. Romania was a communist country back then, and her parents welcomed the opportunity for her to do sports and live a more privileged life than becoming a factory worker. As it turned out, Nadia excelled in gymnastics and soon became a world class gymnast at a young age. She competed in her first international tournament for her country at age 10. When she was 13 she won the 1975 European Championship in Skien, Norway. But it was at the 1976 Montreal Olympics where the world went crazy over her outstanding and gravity defying gymnastic routines as she scored perfect 10’s again and again. As the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 in the Olympics, the scoreboard was not prepared to post a 10, so instead the number 1.00 was posted. She continued to score 10’s in other competitions after the Olympics, and later competed again in the 1980 Moscow Olympics where she won 2 gold and 2 silver medals. She won 5 gold medals at the World University Games in 1981, and then retired in 1984. The scoring system in gymnastics has changed since then with the increased difficulties and advances in gymnastics. Today, the fast, multiple back flips with double or triple somersaults and extreme athleticism are the norm unlike the old fashioned acrobatic type of tumbling with static poses.
How was it that Nadia was able to be so innovative and to compete with such perfect routines? Some of the reasons for Nadia’s success may be because of her coaches, Bela and Marta Karolyi , the support of the Romanian sports program and government, her natural abilities and the fact that she started at a young age. She was, however, very serious and an extremely hard worker. Her coach was famous for saying, “One more time!” which meant, a hundred more times. While other girls would be resting on the mats and taking a break, Nadia was still practicing. She was the first to start her warm-up and often the last to leave. Years later, when her coach was asked if he was grateful that he happened to have such a talented gymnast, he thought for awhile and said that actually one of her teammate was more talented than Nadia--it‘s just that Nadia never missed practice and even worked out when she was sick.
I remember seeing a clip of Nadia as a little girl doing the first move to the prep of a jump over and over again, and thinking to myself, why are they showing that? Why aren’t they showing all her spectacular twists and flying stunts? Isn’t that more worthwhile than watching her practice?! But in looking back and while practicing my poomses, it’s not her aerials or amazing dismounts that come to mind, but her doing just those first few moves over and over again. Nadia worked hard and practiced her routines so much that when the competitions came she was prepared. When a reporter asked Nadia if she was surprised and thrilled when she won her 10’s at the Olympics, Nadia paused for a moment and said, “No, I already won 17 10’s before!”
Today, Nadia holds the world record for the most 10 scores gotten at an Olympic game and also the world record for being the first to receive a perfect 10 score at an Olympic Game gymnastic event. She now lives in Norman, Oklahoma with her husband Bart Conner, also an Olympic gymnast, after immigrating to the US in 1989, and then marrying Bart in 1996. Together they own the Bart Conner Gymnastic Academy, the Perfect 10 Productions and several sports equipment shops, and are editors for the International Gymnast magazine. They have also been sports commentators for various gymnastic events. Nadia has won numerous gymnastic awards and has been inducted into the International Gymnastic Hall of Fame. Nadia is active in various charity and international organizations and is currently the Vice-Chair of the Board Of Directors of the International Special Olympics and Vice President of the Board of Directors of the Muscular Dystrophy Association. She has also personally funded the construction and operation of the Nadia Com?neci Children's Clinic, a clinic in Bucharest that provides low-cost and free medical and social support to Romanian children.
It’s hard to say if Nadia still inspires as many people today as she did back then when she won the gold medals and stunned the world with her perfect 10’s. One thing is for sure--the sports of gymnastics has changed considerably because of her, and today, everyone knows what a “10” means.