WESTMINSTER -- Just like an Olympic gymnast or an American Idol competitor, Rouleau-Holley’s Tae Kwon Do demo team had to perform a difficult routine with fans and judges closely watching every move.
And they nailed it.
The 12-pack of Mike Edaugal, Devin Roberts, Michael Buzby, Derek Brooks, Sarah Simpson, Kayleigh Roberts, Tamara Simmiolkjier, Hunter Blanchette, Kira Kuralt, Matt Gaboriault, Racquelle Blanchette and Nick Lawrence finished first against teams from all over New England at the 22nd Vermont State Nationals on Saturday at Bellows Falls Union High School.
"I couldn’t be prouder," said Sensei Deborah Holley. "It’s a team effort and they practice a lot. They work well together, have good attitudes and just have a passion for it."
The masterful performance, which included aerial kicks and board breaking, was the opening event in front of a packed house at Holland Gymnasium. Following a slideshow tribute for the late Kyle Gilbert, who was one of the original Rouleau-Holley students, the martial artists competed in Weapons, Kata and Sparring.
It was the first tournament for Rouleau-Holley’s Brady Leclair, 6, of Swanzey, N.H. And he was all smiles after receiving a trophy for placing fourth in Kata -- an event that has competitors do a series of moves inside one of the eight rings.
"I’m proud of him for facing his fears and competing. He was scared to death before it started,"
Christian So, 9, of Massachusetts, put on a show in the Weapons competition with his numchucks and then cartwheeled his way to victory in Kata. But the Team Straight Up member then had to face Rouleau-Holley’s Devin Roberts, 12, in Sparring and lost a 5-2 decision.
Devin’s mom was busy taking pics of her son as he fired a number of high kicks at So. Stephanie Coleman was also there to watch her child do his thing, while Phil Gilbert Sr. was on hand to compete and support his son.
"I love it. It has transformed my life. We are like a big family," said Chris Roberts, who is a student at Rouleau-Holley’s Tae Kwon Do along with his three children. "It’s not just about kicking and punching people. It’s a way of life."
Allan Viernes made the three-hour bus ride with 55 students from Westbrook, Maine, and finished first in Kata in the men’s division.
"I chose to do a brown belt Kata routine to show my students how it’s done," stated Viernes. "It’s a series of kicks, punches and strikes. I put a lot of hours into it in practice because I knew there would be a lot of good martial artists here."
Shane Covey can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 802-254-2311, ext. 163.