Liberty Bell XXXII

May 7, 2019

 

 

©2019 Photo by C.H. Halporn

by Chuck Medani and Connie Halporn

 

The 32nd annual Liberty Bell Judo Classic was held on April 27-28 at the Asplundh Field House of the Bryn Athyn College in Northeast Philadelphia.

 

Over 500 competitors came from across the country and Canada to vie for the honor of a podium finish at the prestigious event, with the additional incentive of cash prizes up to $750 to winners of elite categories.

 

This was the first time in four years that the tournament had been expanded to two days, in anticipation of the observed annual increase in participation, and to improve the convenience for many competitors, coaches, and supporters whose travel was impacted by late night extensions, especially for juniors.

 

A number of satellite weigh-in locations augmented the ease of participation, in addition to the online registration, now a standard for most large tournaments.

 

Co-tournament directors Adam Moyerman and  Kristin El Idrissi had a very busy weekend capping off their months-long preparation for the event.  Each offered a few comments about the Liberty Bell, its development and significance:

 

Another special feature of the 2019 Liberty Bell was the number and level of referees from as far away as Oregon, led by Head Referee Roy Englert.  Thirty-five referees, including six IJF-A (International) level referees, guided the conduct of the matches, ensuring compliance with the rules as well as the safety of the competitors.

Referee Team – 2019 Liberty Bell ©2019 Photo by C.H. Halporn

The Liberty Bell is also a National Referee Certification site.  Three referees, Joe Moore of Villanova, Miguel Caban of the US Naval Academy, and Michael Muender, of Exmore, Virginia, tested successfully for National Referee certification.

Annual special awards were given to three individuals prior to the competition.

 

The 2019 Phyllis and Eichi Koiwai awardee for Excellence in Refereeing is Kei Narimatsu.  Sensi Narimatsu is a Rokudan (6th degree Black Belt) from Chicago’s Tenri Dojo, and is an IJF-A International Referee and Coach. He has been in the sport of judo for 67 years, and has been actively refereeing since 1983.

 

Kei Narimatsu, Recipient of the Eichi and Phyllis Koiwai Award for Excellence in Refereeing.

 

“It’s a real honor to receive the Doc and Phyllis Koiwai Memorial Award”, said Sensei Narimatsu later.  “I knew Dr. Koiwai almost since I got into judo as a young kid. He was one of the icons of judo in the United States, one of the founding members of the USJF (United States Judo Federation).

 

“It’s really quite an honor to receive this award on behalf of the Liberty Bell organization and what they’ve done over the years. I feel very honored to be able to accept this award, actually on behalf of all the referees.”

 

The Scott Latimer award for the judo athlete who aspires to achieve excellence in the academic arena, with a determination and spirit representative of Scott, was given to Ari Berliner, of Albany, New York.  Berliner is now attending the University of North Georgia (UNG), with the goal of a degree in either finance or business.

 

Berliner says that he “was privileged to meet Scott’s relatives at the Liberty Bell tournament.  I’m honored to have received the Scott Latimer award, and will continue to strive towards both academic and athletic achievement.”

 

Scott Latimer Award recipient Ari Berliner. Tournament Co-Director Adam Moyerman, Scott’s sister Lori Latimer, his father Paul Latimer, and Head Referee and Shufu President Roy Englert. ©2019 Photo by C.H. Halporn

 

A third award, initiated this year, was the Mark Smith award, given to a coach who gives selflessly and recognizes different abilities in others.  The first awardee was Marc Vink, of Riverton, New Jersey, who works with visually impaired and disabled individuals.

 

Marc P. Vink, Ed.D, first recipient of the Mark Smith Award.

Dr. Vink commented afterwards,  “The work itself is incredibly emotional, because you’re working with people that have given everything they have for their country.  Some are blind, some are deaf, some are amputees, some are all of those things.

 

“They are just trying to get their life back, using judo as a therapeutic vehicle to get that done, and it’s amazing.

 

“That’s really what the founding father (Jigoro Kano) had in mind, to better society.  What better use for the sport than to bring these people, these American heroes, back to usefulness and vigor.  And Mark was able to do that in his program.  He brought these guys out who had been shattered for years and years and now they’re back and they’re starting to enjoy life.  That’s what it’s all about.

 

“So it means a lot to me that people recognize that, and then hopefully his work can go forward and we can continue to do the good stuff that he did, that he started, because it’s not easy. A lot of people shy away from this type of projects.  They’re not glamorous, they’re very difficult, and he’s the guy who put in the groundwork to get that done.  I applaud that, and to be a part of that is important to me.”

 

Coaches’ representative Chris Skelly, Head Referee and Shufu President Roy Englert, Mark Smith’s sister-in-law Kathy Linthicum, son Tyler, nephew Evan Linthicum, wife Michele Smith, Mark’s friend and student Brian Lopez, and Awardee Dr. Marc Vink

 

Mark Smith’s wife, Michele, spoke about the meaning of the award.  “The award means a lot to me and to my family that Mark’s work and his passion for judo was acknowledged – it made us very happy.

 

“Mark loved judo more than anything in the world – he would do it seven days a week – that’s what he enjoyed most in the world.  He loved helping people to do judo, and no task was too big for him.

 

“He accomplished everything that he always wanted to do. He always dreamed of taking Lori (Pierce, 2004 World Blind Judo gold medalist) to the paralympics – he always had big dreams.

 

“I just pray that someone can carry on in Mark’s footsteps so that all the people he was working with and helping can continue on.”

 

The Liberty Bell has been one of the most prominent regional judo competitions for many years.  The Asplundh Field House was once again filled with enthusiastic coaches, families, and fans, and included national champions, US World Team members, and Olympians.

 

Led now by Adam Moyerman and Kristin El Idrissi, their fathers Lou Moyerman and Joe Condello before them, and with the hundreds of volunteers over the years, the Liberty Bell is well-established as one of the can’t-miss tournaments on the East Coast schedule, well worth the travel to the City of Brotherly Love.

 

Results

 

Senior Males

Senior Females

Junior Boys

Junior Girls

Veterans

Coach Certification

SafeSport Certification is now required for all USJF registered clubs. If you have already completed the course and submitted a copy of your certificate, you do not need to resubmit. For more information or to take the course, please visit https://athletesafety.org/

Heads Up concussion training, through the CDC’s website, is a requirement for all members of your USJF registered club who function as teachers at any time. Please advise all of your instructors and assistant instructors of this requirement. The training can be accessed at: http://www.cdc.gov/headsup/