Taekwondo has been one of the most important factors in my maturation process. I have dedicated countless hours throughout seven years of taekwondo, and every second of that work has been worth it. It has helped me develop skills that both have been and will be useful to me throughout my life. These skills include, but are not limited to: respect, perseverance, control (both mental and physical), unselfishness, and focus. Furthermore, doing taekwondo in Blue Wave specifically has opened me to a whole community of friends that has started to blend into family. I have been blessed to have great role models in all of the black belts of the organization as a whole and the Hanover gym in particular. I have also been blessed with the responsibility of being a role model to those I teach and practice with.

In the beginning, I didn't really expect taekwondo to be a huge part of my life. Joining was a spur of the moment decision when I saw an advertisement for taekwondo classes posted in the Hanover Rec Center, and decided to fill the time I had just opened after I decided to quit soccer. Boy was I wrong. Taekwondo quickly went from being just a time-filler to being a huge chunk of my life. I went to every tournament I could, attended every class I was able to. Practicing taekwondo became a passion.

My favorite part of taekwondo began to change when I was a red stripe. As a lower rank, taekwondo was all about me and what I could accomplish. Then, as I grew older and I got red on my belt, responsibilities came. I started to teach. Then, Master Hopkins opened a gym in Grantham, and I started to go to Grantham as much as possible to assist in the instruction of the new students there. I think Grantham was the tipping point in my taekwondo career -- taekwondo became less about me and more about the people I could help. Don't get me wrong -- my taekwondo practicing was still important to me, but it wasn't the only thing important to me anymore.

As we near Summer Camp 2016, I am approaching a milestone in my taekwondo career. My first students that I helped teach from Day 1 as a white belt are testing for black belt. I can remember the amazing moment when I successfully tested for my black belt; I felt extremely proud of myself -- I'd made it! But the interesting thing is, with my first students becoming black belts, I feel more proud of them than I did for myself. And I say students, but that isn't a great word for them. They have become some of my best friends, kind of like the younger siblings I never had.

Looking back on it, it is clear to me that taekwondo has made me a better person. Taekwondo has helped me discover who I am, it has helped me discover who I can become, and it has helped me discover who I want to become. The fluke decision to join taekwondo has become the best decision I've ever made.

Jeffery Boitnott, Hanover Student

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