Kids! of the Month
Amazing Kids! is proud to highlight the Amazing Kids! of the Month!
Each month, we showcase kids who are accomplishing amazing things. We hope that by telling their special stories, we will inspire other kids to accomplish their own amazing achievements.
Amazing Kids! of the Month for May, 2005:
Amazing Young Athletes, U.S.A.
"I have been very fortunate to have many fabulous mentors
that have encouraged me and helped me succeed."
"My best advice to all my peers is to follow your dreams, never give up and most of all have fun doing it!"
Sarah Chen, age 10
Amazing Young Speedskater
San Marino, California
"The most important
part of any sport is staying with it.
Quitting is easy; anyone can do that! But staying with it, that’s what
real champion! Whatever you decide to try, don’t give up!"
Dantzler, age 10
"Although I don't win every race I enter, I do win a lot. My goal is to improve my time, I want to do better than I did before. That's it - That's true for most things that I do. My friends on my team inspire me to keep going. When my friends are there we can support each other and push each other.
"My advice to any kids who want to start swimming is to just start, stay focused and want to win - To win you have to want it more than anyone else."
Kelsey-Claire Gallagher, age 8
Amazing Young Swimmer
"Kelsey has learned to set goals for herself, she does not expect to get what she wants from something the first time out. Swimming has taught (and is teaching) her to stay focused and work hard and your goals will come. I have seen her apply this in school. She just brought home her report card on Friday - Straight A's. I also must add that she has developed a wonderful sense of sportsmanship through this wonderful sport."
Kelsey-Claire Gallagher's Mom
"I hit about 600 balls a week depending on where I am practicing. I am enjoying playing on the big courses now. I normally practice my driving first and then my wedge shots on the wedge and putt. About 80% of my time is spent on the course as this is how the overseas juniors play.”
Bryce Burke, age 8
Amazing Young Golfer
Johannesburg, South Africa
“I'm lucky: I have the greatest asset any fencer can have other than great coaches and training: I'm left handed.”
Arabella Uhry, age 9
Amazing Young Fencer
New York, New York
of you aspiring young athletes out there! This month's Amazing
Kids! of the
Month story was written with you
in mind! We're pleased to focus our May spotlight on eight amazing young athletes, all
who are between the ages of 7 and
If you love sports and athletics, but aren't sure about which sport or athletic activity that might fit you the best, read these inspiring stories below and maybe you'll find just the right sport for you! And who knows? Maybe someday we'll be reading about another amazing young athlete -- you! -- or maybe even watching you in the Olympics!
And don't forget, if you, or a young person (or persons!) you know, has an amazing project you are involved in, or a special skill, talent or ability you want to tell the world about, be sure to let Amazing Kids! know about it! Teachers are invited to nominate their entire classroom and the amazing projects they are working on too! Simply complete our new online nomination form for the Amazing Kid! of the Month award, or email us!
Sarah Chen, Amazing Young Speedskater; San Marino, California
Amazing Speedskater Sarah Chen, age 10,
2005 U.S. National Speedskating Champion
is amazing Sarah Chen's story:
Chen is a 10 year old from San Marino,
California. She is an
amazing young speedskating champion, having recently set 5 new national
records in the Pony Girls Division at the 2005 U.S. National Long Track
Speedskating Championship held in Salt Lake City! She set new
National records in the 200-meter, 300-meter, 400-meter, 500-meter and
600-meter events, sweeping the Pony Girls Division and won five gold
medals and was declared National Champion in her age group!
have been very
fortunate to have many fabulous mentors that have encouraged me and
helped me succeed. Each of these coaches has developed me
as a skater. Wilma Boomstra, my main coach, took me from a shy 7
year-old girl to an outgoing National Champion. She coached me
from the basic level to the advanced level of competitiveness.
Robert Ahlke is the best equipment person there is. He helps me
with my blades and does much more. Sue Perles is the strategy
person. She is very smart and teaches me racing strategies. Tracy
Northrup and Matt Kooreman also coach and are very patient with younger
children. Jerry Search is the President of the Club. He
provides encouragement from the coach’s box and is usually having a
great time taking amazing pictures.
Connor Dantzler, Amazing Young Powerlifter and Judo Champ
PowerLifter Connor Dantzler, age
10, celebrates his new world record
Connor has been a medallist 22 times at the national and international
levels! He has attended elite training camps with several US Olympic
as well as Olympic team members from Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, Canada,
Netherlands and Puerto Rico. He is currently preparing to represent the
US at the
International Championships in Italy later this spring. Connor is also
proud to have
been selected as an Academic All-American, and has earned Maryland
Athlete of the Year honors for the past three years.
to Connor's dad,
NBC Sports described Connor as “…one of the most talented
athlete-scholars.” Judo talent runs in the
Dantzler family, as Connor’s sister, Kirstin, is a talented judo
athlete as well, having medalled at the US National Junior
Olympics. She holds state titles in Maryland and Virginia.
Connor and his sister Kirstin, another amazing Judo champ, enjoying caramel apples!
In powerlifting, Connor has enjoyed success at several levels of competition. He won six gold medals at the 2004 AAU World Powerlifting Championships. He has set or broken nearly three dozen world, American, and state lifting records for his age group. Connor was recently seen in Sports Illustrated’s “Faces in the Crowd” for his unusual achievements. In the sports of judo and powerlifting combined, Connor has won 5 US national championship titles, and holds 10 state championship crowns.
Says Connor's dad: "Connor is fairly
new to wrestling, but enjoys learning new mat techniques. He
has competed in tournaments along the east coast, and has won several
county and regional titles. Perhaps he will be a part of his high
school team some day."
of Connor's latest accomplishments:
Here's Connor's story, in his own words:
My name is Connor Dantzler. I’m 10 years old, and I
live in Maryland. I have an older sister named Kirstin. Basically, I’m
just an average kid who enjoys school, doing sports, and playing with
friends. And, yes, I love video games! My favorite subjects in school
science and art. I also sing with the choristers in church and with the
honors chorus, and I play the trumpet in the school instrumental band.
"My favorite sports are judo, powerlifting, and wrestling. I
train several times a week for each of these sports.
"My favorite sports are judo, powerlifting, and wrestling. I train several times a week for each of these sports.
9-year-old Arabella is a member of the Youth Foil program at New Amsterdam Fencing Academy (www.nyfencing.com) in New York City. Her fencing coaches are John and Larissa Gonzalez. Larissa says when Arabella first started fencing (when she was in first grade), she could barely hold the weapon properly it was so heavy for her! A tough competitor, Arabella continues to get better all the time, mainly due to her determination. Says Larissa: "She’s stubborn (in a good way) and she works really hard!"
Arabella recently competed in her first national competition, the Super Regionals, in New York. She placed ninth out of forty-six foil fencers age 10 and under, which qualified her to go to the Nationals in California in June!
Here's Arabella's description of how she got into fencing and her future goals in the sport:
"I first became interested in fencing when I was in first grade. I tried it simply for fun. Though I am a tiny person (I am 4'2" and weigh 50 pounds and I am nine and a half!) I am very athletic. I can run five miles and have been playing soccer since I was four. I also took five years of ballet and trained with my mom's personal trainer, Rodney Gibson, who taught me, believe it or not, how to box. Rodney also taught me a lot of the fundamentals of training and footwork -- he taught me so much and was a great friend. So sadly, Rodney was killed in a car accident this past January. I started to take lessons at Metropolis Fencing, a famous fencing academy in New York when I was seven. I had a wonderful coach name Ali, who was from Egypt. I am extremely good at math and strategy of all kinds and fencing is all about strategy. One day, six months into fencing, we arrived at Metropolis and found it was closed permanently! I was so shocked!"
Around the same time, she tried out for a competitive all-boys traveling soccer team (Arabella's other favorite sport in which she excels). But she didn't think she would qualify, so she and her mom decided she should concentrate on fencing and find a new fencing academy. (She ended up making the soccer team as well!)
"And that is just what we did: we found New Amsterdam Fencing Academy and the great coaches John and Larissa Gonzalez. This time I went into a class -- twice a week for two hours each time and took to fencing like a fish to the water . I love it and have quickly moved up the levels. I can easily foil (foil is my weapon) a teenager -- and win. I fence all the time and now I take private lessons at NAFA and am going for my Level 5. In April, I was in my first real competition and I loved it. I would like to go all the way with fencing and make a try for either the 2012 or the 2016 Olympics. I will be either 16 or 20 -- we'll see if I can do it. And I'm lucky: I have the greatest asset any fencer can have other than great coaches and training: I'm left handed."
When 8-year-old Kelsey started to take swim lessons at the local YMCA, she advanced through all of the lesson levels in less than one year! Kelsey began swimming competively when she was 5 years old. She has been on a swim team for 4 years now, and competes 11 months out of the year. She holds two team records and has her eye set on more. Her goal, like many of the young athletes we feature in this month's Amazing Kids! of the Month story, is to be an Olympian and win gold!
According to Kelsey-Claire's mom, "She is very committed, very fast and a very good sport. There are many things about Kelsey that make her an Amazing Kid, but probably most evident of all is that all of her drive and commitment in the water come from within."
Here's Kelsey-Claire's story, in her own words:
"My name is Kelsey-Claire Gallagher and I have been swimming competitively for four years. I became interested in swimming because my mom wanted me to learn how to swim in lessons when I a baby. She thought it was an important thing to learn for life. I moved through all of the swim lessons for my age really quickly. A swim teacher asked me if I would like to swim against kids my own age, I said OK.
"As I learned to swim, I really, really enjoyed it. I have two team records; one, as part of a 8U IM relay and another in a 100 Free relay split. Although I don't win every race I enter, I do win a lot. My goal is to improve my time, I want to do better than I did before. That's it - That's true for most things that I do. My friends on my team inspire me to keep going. When my friends are there we can support each other and push each other. My favorite Olympic swimmers are Aussie Ian Thorpe and American Michael Phelps.
holding up their winning trophies!
"My advice to any kids who want to start swimming is to just start, stay focused and want to win - To win you have to want it more than anyone else."
Kelsey's mom adds:
"Kelsey has learned to set goals for herself; she does not expect to get what she wants from something the first time out. Swimming has taught (and is teaching) her to stay focused and work hard and your goals will come. I have seen her apply this in school. She just brought home her report card on Friday - Straight A's. I also must add that she has developed a wonderful sense of sportsmanship through this wonderful sport."
at the Dixie Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia in December 2004. Aaron won the title of national champion!
Aaron Pico is an amazing 8-year-old, 55-pound wrestler from Whittier, California. Like many of the kids in this month's Amazing Kids! of the Month story, Aaron got an early start in his sport and began wrestling at the age of 3.
Aaron has won countless tournaments in his brief career and according to his father, over the past season, Aaron has made even bigger strides in his wrestling accomplishments! This season alone, Aaron has captured his 2nd California State Folkstyle Championship, along with winning many national tournaments in the past year which include:
Aaron was also named to the 2004 Cliff Keen World of Wrestling All-Star Team as seen in the October 2004 edition of USA Wrestling magazine!
8 year old Bryce Burke lives in Johannesburg, South Africa. He started playing golf when he was just 3 years old!
He has played in over a dozen international tournaments, as well as countless tournaments in South Africa. In his travels, he has had the privilege of meeting many interesting people, including professional golfers in the PGA, and even the President of South Africa, Mr. Thabo Mbeki!
Here's Bryce's story, in his own words:
"I was born on the 9 September 1996 in Johannesburg, South Africa. My parents, Allan and Bridgette were very proud of me. I first starting playing golf in October 1999 (at the age of 3) after my parents saw a video clip of me playing with a plastic set of golf clubs in the garden. I then went to the practice tees with my first set of clubs we bought from the Pro shop. I am now 8 years old and will be turning 9 in September 2005.
"I hit about 600 balls a week depending on where I am practicing. I am enjoying playing on the big courses now. I normally practice my driving first and then my wedge shots on the wedge and putt. About 80% of my time is spent on the course as this is how the overseas juniors play. My favourite golfers are Nick Price, Ernie Els and Retief Goosen (Please click on HIGHLIGHTS) who I have met. They were very kind to me and allowed me to be photographed with them. Nick Price also allowed me to walk with him on the course at the Nedbank Golf Challenge.
"As of August 2004 I have played in 12 International Tournaments in the United States for my age group as there are no competitions for me in South Africa unless I play with 12 year or older and by handicap. I have played in Virginia, Mississippi, Florida, Texas, Illinois and California. I have finished in the Top 15 on 10 occasions and in the Top 3 on 7 occasions. I have also played in three World Championships. The courses I have played on in the USA were Bray Links, Spotswood, Golden Horseshoe, Lake Arlington Country Club, Pine Glen, Torrey Pines, Doral, Ditto Chester Golf Club, Tierra Verde, Landmark Golf Course, Greenville Country Club, Knights of Columbus, Kellogg Executive Golf Course, Prairie Vista, Rolling Oaks, Westview Golf Club and Lakeside Country Club. The holes ranged from 70 meters (for a Par 3) to 380 meters (a par 5 for my age group, Under 8 although I am still seven). I am a member of Kyalami Country Golf Club in Johannesburg and play there every week. My parents bought me a set of US Kids golf clubs (blue system) but I have still kept my GTE Masters Putter. I use a Precept 50 and Max-fli Noodle golf ball. In August 2004 I will now be changing clubs and will be playing with the new Precept PwrDrive ball.
"I regularly practice at The World Of Golf where I practice my wedges and putting and I practice all aspects of my game at Kyalami Country Club. My mom and dad caddy for me in all my competitions and at practices."
In his first trip to the United States, Bryce played in the Doral-Publix Junior Classic in Miami, Florida.
"I finished 8th, which I am very proud of. I recorded rounds of 36 and 35 and every hole had bunkers or water around the green!"
Last summer, Bryce toured the USA and won the Peoria Junior Masters in Illinois! He also finished second after a playoff at the Country Youth Classic in Bloomington, Illinois.
Recently, Bryce received a special award at his school:
"I was invited to a special assembly at school where I was awarded the High Flyer Award for outstanding achievement in sport, namely golf, for a sport not on the school curriculum. I was the youngest student to receive this award. I was very honoured."
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Alex and Katelyn Brewer, Amazing Young Skaters
7-year-old Alex and 10-year-old Katelyn Brewer, brother and sister, are ice skaters who skate competively. Alex currently competes in pair skating (his partner is 8-years-old). Katelyn competes in single skating. She is currently a USFSA skater and will be competing next week in Arizona.
Their skating takes them to interesting places and gives them the opportunity to have many amazing experiences. Both are currently practicing for an ice production of Car Wash at Pickwick Ice Center and recently, they both helped to promote "Ice Princess" for Disney at the El Capitan. They also ski and they managed to go down their first black diamond runs this year!
However, what is most special about Alex and Katelyn is that they are not only winners, they are survivors. Alex has epilepsy and must take a lot of medication to help control it. Both Alex and Katelyn have helped support their mother as they watched her battle breast cancer. Though it has been very difficult for their family, these two amazing kids continue to put their all into their skating and they have made their mother very, very proud!
Amazing Kids! congratulates each and every one of these amazing young athletes! You all have such inspiring stories to tell! We'll be watching for you all in the Olympics in years to come!
Burke's website: www.bryce.co.za
Little Kids Golf, website (a golf association for kids started by Bryce's dad): www.littlekidsgolf.co.za
New Amsterdam Fencing Academy, New York: (www.nyfencing.com)
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