2015-2016 ECTC All-Stars Train in Los Angeles, CA
by Rae Drach
ECTC Tournament Committee Member
One of the unique characteristics of the Eastern Collegiate Taekwondo Conference is its annual selection of an All-Star team of student-athletes, comprised of competitors from the league’s member schools. This tradition began in 2001-2002, with a team of students who traveled to train in Puerto Rico, and has continued annually to make this 2015-2016 group the 15th ECTC All-Star Team. This year’s team traveled to train in Los Angeles, California from January 14th to January 16th. Masters Dan Chuang and Rex Hatfield accompanied the team as ECTC coaches and representatives.
The 2015-2016 All-Star team members are David Cui (Cornell University), Avery Forrow (Princeton University), Andy Guatemala (MIT), Jared Gurba (Cornell), Kyosan Ku (Cornell), Laurie Lai (Harvard University), Eric Mastrolonardo (Duke University), Brian David Pegno (Duke), Jean Smith (Princeton), and Alanna Todd (Cornell). Cui and Lai were selected as the male and female, Poomsae All-Star athletes, respectively. The team’s self-selected student captains were Pegno and Smith, the latter being the only current team member to have been previously selected for the team. This is Smith’s fourth year on the All-Star team, a league record.
These 10 outstanding athletes and 2 coaches arrived in Los Angeles, CA on Thursday, January 16 and immediately began training that evening. The sparring athletes trained with Master Luis Reyes at King’s Taekwondo, while the poomsae athletes trained with Ms. Kim Menchavez at Just Taekwondo. On Friday, all of the athletes trained with Master Richard Lee at Tae Ryong Taekwondo with his competition team. Saturday was the most grueling day, with athletes participating in three separate workouts: sparring drills with Lee, a poomsae workout led by US National Poomsae Team member Master Megan Yi, and a sparring scrimmage with students from Master Lee’s school, the University of California Los Angeles, the University of Southern California, University of California Irvine and the University of California San Diego.
One of the key aspects of the All-Star trip is training with other athletes from different schools to improve collegiate taekwondo nationwide. Smith stated, “All the athletes [we met] were so welcoming and encouraging, which is the ideal situation for everyone to improve and grow. I think all of the ECTC All-Stars learned new techniques and drills that they can take back to their teams. Hopefully this trip fostered an east coast-west coast collaboration that will continue in future years!”
Furthermore, the trip is intended to promote community and camaraderie within the ECTC itself. As Pegno commented, “The whole team meshed so well together right from the first day, it made me realize how special the ECTC really is. I learned so much from the incredible athletes and coaches we trained with-I can’t wait to share all that I learned with my team back at Duke!” And Lai really summed up the benefits and goals of the trip, “I really enjoyed seeing different poomsae styles and sparring workouts. I’m definitely taking a lot of ideas home to work on. Also, it was great to bond with fellow ECTC athletes, and I look forward to cheering for them at future tournaments!”
The nomination process for the All-Star team begins after the final tournament of the fall season. Each school may nominate up to one female and one male athlete for the Poomsae All-Star Team and two female and two male athletes for the Sparring All-Star Team. Athletes may be nominated for both teams. To promote diversity on the team, specific regulations are set in place. This year, no more than three athletes from any one school could be chosen for the Sparring Team, a minimum of three athletes were chosen from Division I, a minimum of two athletes were chosen from Division II, and a minimum of one athlete was chosen from Division III. Requirements state that nominated athletes must be members of a team registered with the ECTC during the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 seasons, have participated in 3 of the last 5 ECTC tournaments, and provide proof of full-time student status during the Fall 2015 season. Nominations are evaluated for their competitive excellence in the league, demonstrated leadership, commitment, good sportsmanship, and positive attitude.
From left to right: Master Dan Chuang, Jean Smith, Alanna Todd, Andrea Guatemala, Avery Forrow, Laurie Lai, David Cui, Jared Gurba, Kyosan Ku, Brian David Pego, Eric Mastrolonardo, and Master Rex Hatfield.