The Life of a Black Belt

Trained in taekwondo, Amelia McConnell is fiercer than she looks

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The Life of a Black Belt

Amelia in her taekwondo uniform

Amelia in her taekwondo uniform

Photo by Hope Stratman

Amelia in her taekwondo uniform

Photo by Hope Stratman

Photo by Hope Stratman

Amelia in her taekwondo uniform

Hope Stratman, Features Editor

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When considering which Skutt Catholic students you wouldn’t want to face in a fight, to whom does your mind go? Do your thoughts gravitate toward a 200 pound football player? Or one of Skutt Catholic’s state-winning wrestlers?

In actuality, the subject of your fear should be a five foot two inch senior girl.

Photo by Hope Stratman
Practicing during her taekwondo class

Many students know Amelia McConnell as a smart, quiet girl with a sweet disposition. However, most are unaware that this sweet girl is also extensively trained in martial arts. Although Amelia is generally fairly private about her taekwondo experience, her fourth degree black belt stands for itself in regards to her skill.

Amelia began her career in taekwondo – a martial art that originated in Korea – when she was seven years old. “My brother decided when he was five that he wanted to be a ninja,” she said. “So my mom started doing some research about different places we could go here in Omaha.” A coworker of her father ended up recommending Tiger Rock Academy, a martial arts academy specializing in taekwondo.

After watching a few of her little brother’s lessons, she decided that she wanted to give it a try. “I had been doing gymnastics and dance, just floating between stuff,” Amelia said. “But there wasn’t anything I really loved. I guess I just found my passion [in taekwondo].”

Her brother Cruz eventually gave up taekwondo, but Amelia found that she liked it so much she wanted to stick with it. Except for time off from it during her sophomore year, Amelia has been doing it ever since.

However, the journey has not always been easy, as Amelia’s mother can attest to: “There were days when we had to bribe her or threaten her to go to class,” said Mrs. Dolores McConnell. “However, there were other times we had to ask her to slow down,” McConnell continued.

“I guess I just found my passion [in taekwondo]” – Amelia McConnell

When she was old enough to earn her fourth degree black belt, Amelia’s skills were tested at the World competition in Houston. This took place during July of this year. “I was super nervous going into testing because there were so many parts to it,” she said. Some aspects of the testing included board breaking, forms, sparring, and an oral speech. “I barely remember my testing. I just got up there and did it; I didn’t think about it.” Amelia ended up passing her testing and moving up to the fourth degree, which is the highest level of black belt that one can achieve for her age.

Outside of her formal training, however, taekwondo has affected Amelia’s life in a number of ways; for example, its influence has made her more aware of her surroundings. “When I walk into a room, I immediately start thinking about where I can sit so that, if someone were to break in, I have the best opportunity to do something about it.”

Photo by Hope Stratman
Amelia helping out with a class for young kids

Besides these self-defense skills, taekwondo has also left a lasting impact on Amelia’s character. “Taekwondo has taught her lessons like humility, courage and self-control,” Mrs. McConnell said.

Now back to the question at hand: who would you be most afraid of in a fight? Hopefully you’ve given more consideration to the seemingly least likely candidate. Though she seems and most certainly is kind and gentle, it’s pretty apparent that, when asked this question, the football player or wrestler shouldn’t be at the forefront of your mind; rather, you should probably be worried about this five foot two inch girl that could, most definitely, take you down.

Hope Stratman - Features Editor

Hope became a member of The Flightline in August of 2016. She is a senior this year involved in activities including Speech and FBLA. Outside of school, she enjoys lists, photography, and naming inanimate objects. You can email her at [email protected]