Annual Starrett Cherry Blossom Tournament at the Brooklyn Sports Club


The Starrett City Judo Club hosted their Annual Starrett Cherry Blossom Tournament on Sunday, May 5th at the Brooklyn Sports Club (BSC). This event was free to the family members and the community. The Judokas were at the BSC bright and early preparing for the event . They were stretching, exercising and mentally preparing for their matches.

The Annual Cherry Blossom Tournament began promptly at 10 am and started with all of the Judokas lined up and saluting the American flag. As each child’s name was called for their fight, they were either called to the red or yellow mat and they were matched up with their opponent. They shook each other’s hand and then their competition started. Each of the Judokas are divided up into categories for their bouts by their gender, age, and weight.

Kevin Bailey who has two children in Judo said that he feels that his children get exercise from being in Judo but, in addition to the physical aspect, the discipline that his children learn is extraordinary. Kevin Bailey Jr has been in Judo for three years and Jessiah Bailey has been in Judo for two years, both were excited to participate in the tournament.

Sarit Shinder’s two children, Ethan and Kevin were preparing for their matches in the tournament. Ethan who has been in Judo for four years and Kevin who has been in Judo for two years were practicing with their teammates. Shinder appreciates the fact that her sons are learning a discipline and that they are not coming home from school and going on a computer. “I like that my sons are doing something that gives them enjoyment,” said Shinder.

Krystal Pena’s twins JJ and Kelsey Billups have both been in Judo for three years. Pena likes that Judo is an out of the ordinary sport and that it is different than other sports like baseball. “In Judo, my children compete with each other, they learn to build and compete on the same level,” said Pena.

The Starrett City Judo Club children were thrilled to compete at (home) the BSC. Adam Faraq who has been in Judo for two years said, “I am nervous about competing but, win or lose I know that I will have fun.”

Dominick Bonserio said, “I am not nervous, I am just enthusiastic!” Kevin Bailey Jr said,” I am excited because in the last tournament, I won 1st place in two divisions.” Kelsey Billups said, “I am eager because I have done this before and I also know some of the competition.” Yosuel Reyes was electrified, “I am looking forward to fighting new people.”

Raja Pope was eager because he has competed before. Raja’s grandmother, Ms. Pope came to cheer him on. Pope is a resident of Spring Creek Towers for 40 years. “I am elated by the work Parnel Legros does in our community. I am glad that the BSC is hosting this event. I am thankful to Mr. Legros for being a consistent and positive force in the Spring Creek Towers (SCT) community. The students learn early on about building their character by listening to their instructors while also learning about self-control and discipline in addition to the physical exercises. These students are taught the importance of teamwork and how to accept disappointment and life lessons. The growth of these students is tremendous,” said Pope.

Photos by: Pamela Stern, Kevin Bailey, and Ms. Pope