I joined Yi Sport originally to reach a new level of skill and competition. I started as a young kid with a deep passion for fighting and my Yi sport coaches and teammates helped me emerge as a nationally ranked Taekwondo fighter. But Yi Sport gave me so much more than Taekwondo. It gave me an incredible sense of community. My teammates became my brothers and sisters and coaches were influential in driving us to be the best athletes we could be and even more so the best people we could be. I am forever grateful to be raised in the Yi Sport community and no matter how old I get or where I end up the lessons and memories that I have gained from Yi Sport follow me forever.
-Haley Smith | 1st Dan Blackbelt
Yi Sport Taekwondo is the reason for the person I am today. Coaches, students, and parents alike holds great expectations for each other and because of the support and encouragement I had from this community, I was able to compete at a World Class level. Training and competing with Yi Sport are both difficult and intense, but completing and overcoming these obstacles were rewarding as it gave me a lot of confidence in myself and has taught me dedication and perseverance. These lessons that I’ve obtained at Yi Sport carries over into my personal life, as it has pushed me to finish school and continues to push me in becoming the person that I want to be.
During my seven year journey with Yi Sport I found strength I never would have found otherwise. I struggled in the beginning as I was overweight and had asthma. However, the teachers and peers I fought with on the mat taught me more than just how to kick. After losing several times at various tournaments and channeling my frustration into perseverance I learned that tae kwon do is a game that demands heart more than anything else. Strength, endurance, and no longer needing an inhaler came soon after that. Yi Sport has a history seeped in success and makes me proud to wear the purple jacket in competition. Not only do they train excellence, but Coach Lionel Lee and his family have had such a profound affect on my life outside the mat as well. I cannot express how grateful I am for their guidance that I will need for my journey to become a better person. Everyone has their issues, but the Yi Sport family does not hesitate to take anyone in and do whatever they can to help. After the peak of my tae kwon do career I struggled after injuring my shin from training. Although the injury made training more difficult, it was not the cause of my inability to show up to practice. I noticed new feelings as I grew older and matured. I didn’t voice these feelings until I spoke with the only person that I knew would have the right things to tell me: Coach Lionel Lee is like a second father to me having heard my feelings and pointing me towards the right direction. Tae kwon do is in my blood, my sweat, and my tears. My father and his father’s father all did tae kwon do. I plan to continue that tradition.
Yi Sport is my family. From the age of 8 until 15, we learned how to protect ourselves and the definition of true strength, both mentally and physically. I was blessed to join Yi Sport with my siblings and cousins. We had previously tried Karate but I can truly say the difference was staggering. We were much more comfortable with ourselves. We learned how to persevere in difficult situations, courtesy to all, always maintain integrity, self -control, and indomitable spirit; understanding that our strength comes from within and to be resilient. Learning these key tenets of Tae Kwon Do at such an early age set us up for success beyond our foresight. Only now, as I look back and think about the influence Yi Sport has had do I realize we learned so much more than we knew at the time. We learned how to make the mind, body and soul work together before we even truly understood the meaning of soul. Beyond this, what truly set our school apart was the feeling of family. We focused on how to better each other, pushing each other to tap into the potential we knew and saw until we reached that bar and eventually surpassed it.