By Reed DeSalvo / The Meridian Star
The Meridian Star
Stephen Schroll has been doing it since he was in junior high school. The 29-year-old put his Martial Arts talents on display claiming a first place finish in the Kumite (sparring) and a second place finish in the Kata events (combination of patters and movement) of the 19-and-older diviions at the State Games of Mississippi Saturday.
For Schroll, a Mobile, Ala. native, attributes his success to the dedication that he has poured into his craft.
“People are always asking me to teach them something,” he said. “But what most people don’t understand is that Martial Arts is not a weekend seminar … You will learn to fight, and you will learn to defend yourself, but it’s a way of life. It’s not a class; you have to train for it. It’s a lifestyle.”
Despite returning home with multiple medals, Schroll says the experience of competing with friends is what he enjoys most.
“I just enjoy the experience,” he said. “It’s a really good feeling, but it’s about the camaraderie and people you love, and doing what you love.”
Not to be outdone, 18-year-old Maci Ousset claimed first placed finishes in the Kata and Kubota events.
“It’s really a lot of fun, especially when the fans cheer at the end,” said Ousset of the Kubota event. “I love that part.”
At the competition, Ousset, a native of Chalmette, La., gained the opportunity to spar against Schroll.
“That was fun,” Ousset said. “I enjoyed it. I usually have to face other women, but it was nice to experience something new. Secretly, I’ve always wanted to be in the division.”
Ousset credits the time she spends away from the gym as a key component to her success.
“It’s a lot of training,” she said. “Not just in Karate, but also in fitness. It requires a lot of running, lifting weihts and eating right as well.”
Despite claiming first place finishes in multiple events, Ousset says she’s more excited about the knowledge that she can pass down to those who look up to her.
“It makes me proud,” Ousset said of winning two gold medals. “But I also get to show my students how to be a champion and how to win.”
In the end, fun and competition is still the name of the game.
“That’s my happy place,” Schroll said. “I started when I was young and plan on doing it for the rest of my life.”