Good morning everyone!
I recently had the opportunity to interview one of the coaches for the US Paralympic Judo Team, Heidi Moore, and ask a few questions regarding her experiences as both a competitor, and as a coach. Enjoy, everyone!
How did you get started in judo/ what interested you in to participate in the sport?
I started judo because my little brother was doing it, straight up sibling rivalry. However, he quit after a couple of years and I stayed with it. I have been doing it for 27 years now and am a godan, or 5th degree black belt.
What prompted you to start competing, and eventually coaching the Paralympics team?
I am not visually impaired, but my husband Scott is. I got involved with the Paralympic program through him. I was able to go watch him compete in Sydney where he won the first ever gold medal for the US in Olympic or Paralympic judo, and in Athens where he won a bronze medal. In 2008 in Beijing he was the assistant coach, and in 2009 he was named the head coach of the US Paralympic team. I had been working with the team for several years as a coach and as a the US Association of Blind Athletes “development coordinator” meaning I find clubs for visually impaired athletes interested in trying the sport. In 2012 I servered as the assistant coach for the Paralympic team in London. I have also been the tournament director for the IBSA (International Blind Sports Association) world youth championships in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2013 and for the IBSA Pan American Championships in 2009 and 2013.
As a competitor, What do you find to be the best part/worst part of competition?
I think the worst thing for me as a competitor was the nerves before I fought. Even when I was ranked #1 in the US I doubted my abilities and was very nervous before every competition. The best part was the high from winning. 🙂 It was also an honor to be able to represent my country in international competitions such as the Pan American Championships and the World Championships.
What do you consider to be the best, or most gratifying part of coaching? Also, what do you consider to be the most frustrating?
The most gratifying part of coaching is being able to give back to judo and to expose new people to what I consider to be the greatest sport in the world. I love it when my students excel in competition, but it is even more gratifying to see them develop an abiding love for judo. The most frustrating part is when I have an athlete who has a lot of potential or who talks about wanting to be great, but doesn’t back it up with action (doesn’t come to practice regularly, etc). It is frustrating to want it more for someone than they want it for them self.
Is there anything surprising, or unexpected that you have found while coaching?
I’ve been coaching at Denver Judo for about 13 years now. I guess the thing that I find the most surprising about coaching is how difficult it can be. When I was a competitor I only had to worry about myself, but when you are a coach, you have to worry not only about coaching your athletes, but making sure that they have the information they need, that transportation and lodging are taken care of, that they make weight, etc, etc. I have a lot more sympathy for my coaches now that I know how much they really did for us!
What is your most memorable moment as a coach or competitor, or both?
As an athlete, I have several most memorable moments. The year of 2007 was my best year as a competitor. I won Nationals and the US Open, and took bronze medals in the Canadian Open and the Pan American Championships that year, and fought in the world championships in Brazil. As a coach, a couple of memorable moments where the first time I coached my son at a tournament (he took 2nd place) and when I coached one of the visually impaired women to a silver medal in the world championships in 2010.
Also if you, or someone you happen to know is visually impaired and would like to try judo, please feel free to email Heidi: judoheidi at comcast.net
Thanks so much to Heidi for answering these questions, and thank you guys for reading!