Karate Helps Brown With Focus, Discipline
CLIFF GILLHUDSON - Most 11-year-olds who punch and kick others can expect to be punished. Steffanie Brown, however, is rewarded. In fact, the junior black belt has received 29 awards for her sparring matches in karate. The past two years, she has qualified to participate in national tournaments.
Published: August 31, 2008
Published: August 31, 2008
"Karate teaches me to defend myself, but it also teaches discipline, self-control, focus and respect for others," Brown said. "When I was 4, I started out as a white belt and advanced to higher belts. I liked the challenge of trying to improve myself.
"Karate also helps me in other sports. In soccer, for example, I have better leg strength, balance and stamina."
Brown, who received her junior black belt in December of 2006, gets instruction three times a week at Ingram's Pro Karate Center in New Port Richey. The center teaches the Isshinryu style of karate, which focuses on self-defense.
"One of Steffanie's strengths is her persistence and ability to overcome numerous obstacles," said Sheri Ingram-Angwin, Brown's instructor, or sensei. "She has worked hard and completed all the requirements for the junior black belt. She has the right stuff for an athlete in any sport - she simply doesn't give up."
Because of her skills, Brown helps instruct new karate students. Under the supervision of an adult sensei, Brown leads a handful of white-belt students into the classroom, called a dojo. They begin with a bow, followed by a series of punches and kicks. They also perform basic exercises, such as jumping jacks and stretches.
"Steffanie is a great instructor," Ingram-Angwin said. "She is patient, mature and gives encouragement that the students respond to."
A sixth-grader at Hudson Middle School, Brown also has been rewarded for her academics. She qualified for the school's gifted students program, has consistently scored 5's or higher on the state's FCAT exams and ranks in the 90-plus percentile in reading and math. In addition, her singing ability has earned her the All-County Chorus Award.
"Steffanie excelled in her studies and completed her assignments," said Kim Hein, one of Brown's former teachers at Moon Lake Elementary School. "But her real strength is helping others, especially students who are struggling with reading."
At Moon Lake, Brown received the Principal's Award for demonstrating outstanding academic achievement and character.
Each year on Veterans Day, Brown volunteers in the Flower Drive, delivering flowers to veterans at Morton Plant Hospital. Last year, she had a conversation with a survivor of Pearl Harbor.
"Visiting veterans is a way to say thanks to those who risked their lives for our freedom and for their service to our country," Brown said.
Recently, her karate class visited a nursing home in New Port Richey. There, they put on a demonstration of basic kicks and punches. Afterward, the karate students shared juice and cookies with the residents.
"It felt good inside, because I saw their smiles as we were performing and spending time with them," she said.
Teachers, coaches: If you would like to nominate an outstanding student-athlete to be featured in an upcoming In The Community article, contact Cliff Gill at email@example.com or (727) 860-4903.