Leelen Samuelson, furthest right in the rear, poses with the Kootenay Zone team from the Ft. St. John 2020 BC Winter Games that occurred in February. Photo courtesy of Amy Kuo

Leelen Samuelson, furthest right in the rear, poses with the Kootenay Zone team from the Ft. St. John 2020 BC Winter Games that occurred in February. Photo courtesy of Amy Kuo

Creston Judo Club coach recognized with provincial award

Leelen Samuelson has been involved with the Creston Judo Club for most of his life

By Amy Kuo, Creston Judo Club

Creston Judo Club’s head coach was recently named as the recipient of the club development coach award for the 2019-20 season by Judo BC.

Leelen Samuelson has been involved with the Creston Judo Club for most of his life. He started as a judoka when he was seven, began coaching in 2013 and then head coach for the past three years.

Judo BC recognized Sensei Leelen’s commitment, as he has consistently sent seven to 10 athletes to the youth provincial championships over the past few years. His team also performed well in the BC Games both times he attended as coach.

In an email to the Creston Judo Club, Katie Thomson of Judo BC noted that, “Leelen was recommended for this award by Jeremy Le Bris, Judo BC sport development director, for his ongoing commitment to developing the club and judo in the Kootenay region and his support of coach development through his participation as a BC Games coach mentor. He was unanimously approved by the board of directors.”

Sensei Leelen has been consistently committed to furthering his coaching skill, using his personal time to take registered National Coaching Certificate Program (NCCP) courses, and travelling to participate in seminars when necessary.

His fellow assistant coaches have also been encouraged by him to increase their skills with NCCP courses and seminars. He has mentored judokas to further their judo abilities, and offered them a chance to team mentor and lead under his encouragement and supervision.

Sensei Leelen’s dedication to the Creston Judo Club has been particularly evident over the past few months. Four evenings a week since September, he has been coaching judokas ranging in age from six to 16 almost single-handedly, as the small training bubbles have meant fewer numbers of judokas and senseis on the mat at a time.

Brae Booth, who also hails from the Creston Judo Club, was also recognized by Judo BC as the U21 female athlete for the 2019-2020 season. Brae has won multiple medals at national and international levels, and is currently training at Judo Canada’s National Training Centre in Montreal.

In other club news, fundraising activities have been ongoing to help pay bills and, in previous years, send judokas to competitions. Funds raised do not include stipends for any of the senseis who all volunteer their time.

A few weeks ago, the club conducted a bottle drive with generous donations from the community and club members. The cash calendar is currently underway with a new winner drawn almost daily through December. If you’ve missed your chance to purchase a cash calendar, there is always next year.