The Columbia Valley Centre is opening its doors to more than 200 Judo athletes at the end of September.
They are coming from across western Canada to take part in a training camp the local club has coordinated in tandem with a milestone anniversary for the local judokas. The Invermere Judo Club is celebrating 50 years in Invermere. To honour the club’s longstanding history in the community, they are hosting a celebratory dinner.
“It is a community celebration, in recognition for all those who have supported us through the years,” said Karen Sharp, an instructor at Invermere Judo and daughter of Invermere Judo club founder Hermann Mauthner.
The anniversary dinner is open to anyone in the community; organizers hope it will help show the gratitude for the support given to the club through the years.
“The dinner is to give back to the community what the community has done for the last 50 years,” explained Mr. Mauthner. “The community has been involved in every aspect of the Judo club.”
In the past 50 years, Mr. Mauthner estimates he has coached more than 2,500 people. Mr. Mauthner, who has now seen multiple generations come through the Judo club doors, says he never imagined the club reaching this milestone when he opened it in 1967.
“I have great memories of fabulous students,” said Mr. Mauthner. “We have produced 14 black belts coming out from our club. We have beginners and some that never made it more than a few belts up but still enjoy Judo. Some are bringing their kids back. As a matter of fact, we have some third generation kids coming back.”
And five decades later, Mr. Mauthner admits he still loves Judo.
“It’s a very physical exercise. It involves all the muscles of your body, and you have to concentrate your mind,” he said. “It’s a good way to make friends. You’re physically opposed to each other, but, at the same time, you practice with each other, you learn from each other.”
He has passed that same love of the sport on to his daughter, Ms. Sharp. She said her love of Judo is because it is unlike any other sport she has encountered.
“Judo is a gentle art,” shared Ms. Sharp. “To learn to do things with maximum efficiency and minimum effort.”
Judo has been a part of Ms. Sharp’s life as long as she can remember, and she has seen again and again the benefit others find in the uplifting sport.
“I absolutely love the character building. It gives kids a self confidence, builds them to be able to face challenges,” described Ms. Sharp. “In my life, it has given me the ability to face fears.”
The dinner takes place Friday, September 29th. Cocktails are 6:30 p.m., dinner is at 7 p.m. at the Copper Point Resort. Tickets are available online at www.invermerejudo.com or call 250-342-0471.
Meanwhile, the training camp will take place over the weekend with Judo clubs from across Western Canada converging in Invermere to train together.
Travis Stevens, the 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist, will be instructing at the camp, which will happen at the Columbia Valley Centre and David Thompson Secondary School. The annual training camps often happen in the Lower Mainland so the local club is excited to be hosting this year’s session.
The public is invited to come watch the Judo participants through the weekend.
The Judo camp runs Friday, September 29th from 5-6:30 p.m. Participants will be back on the mat all day Saturday and on Sunday morning until 11 a.m.