By Lethbridge Herald on July 21, 2015.
Itâ€™s right on the door as you walk into their dojang on Third Avenue.
Nine members of Legacy Tae Kwon Do Martial Arts are headed to Italy this week to compete internationally at the World Tae Kwon Do Championships in Roana, Italy. They are part of United Traditional Tae Kwon Do Canadaâ€™s national team, and are coached by Sam Lieff, also a Legacy member and former international competitor.
Lieff has put his Team Canada through the paces, watching a group which includes former teammates like Anthony Gibson and young up-and-comers like 18-year-old Sara Gateman. For Lieff and Legacy owner Darin Gibson, itâ€™s part of the generational process that keeps the club â€” and the sport â€” thriving.
You could call it a legacy.
â€œIt took me 15 years to come up with a name,â€ said Gibson, who owns the business with Colin Nonomura. The two were inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame this year, giving Gibson another tradition. See, no matter what he does, Darin will always be the son of Billy Gibson, one of Lethbridgeâ€™s greatest athletes and a 1952 Olympic hockey gold medallist with the Edmonton Mercurys. Darin said heâ€™s accepted the fact that to a certain well-read segment of population, heâ€™s Billyâ€™s kid.
As Darin talked to The Herald, he watched his son practise with Team Canada. Anthony Gibson has competed internationally for five years, and will be part of the UTTC team which heads to Italy.
â€œIâ€™m always going to be proud of my name, of my family,â€ said Darin. â€œItâ€™s funny to think that there are a lot of people, probably a lot who read The Herald, that will know me as Billy Gibsonâ€™s son, maybe even as Carol Steenâ€™s brother but Iâ€™m so proud of my family that there is no negative there.â€
And Darin has built a family at Legacy, hence the name.
â€œWhen we finally came up with Legacy (the business had been J.J. Lee Tae Kwon Do for years) it just seemed to be the perfect name for what Colin and I were trying to accomplish,â€ said Darin. â€œAnd now, I mean, we have some young athletes, 14, 15 years old coming up who will be part of this national team and probably surpass what this group will accomplish.â€
Thatâ€™s a sentiment backed up by Lieff, who said the development of a UTTC team has had its growing pains.
â€œThe cool thing is, four years ago we went to our first big international competition and we basically got our butts kicked,â€ he said. â€œWe were no slouches but we still got our butts kicked and we really had to build up the way we train and fight from the ground up.â€
Lieff said the process of adjusting to how international teams fight is constantly evolving but the younger fighters donâ€™t carry any of the habits some of the more experienced ones do. Anthony Gibson (Billyâ€™s grandson, of course) said heâ€™s happy to have helped lay the groundwork for an emerging elite group of competitors.
â€œIâ€™m almost jealous a bit because me and Mr. Lieff and a couple of other guys, we kind of tested the waters in terms of the competition so we went out and sniffed it out in Dallas (at the world championships) and got spanked,â€ said Anthony.
â€œNow we know what works, we know what it takes to win. These guys, even the generation after these guys, theyâ€™re going to be able to win for sure.
â€œIâ€™m not going to lie, our first time at Dallas, we thought we had it and got dusted pretty good and and in England we turned it on, medalled and now weâ€™re beating some of these guys.â€
Again, the word legacy comes to mind. But Anthonyâ€™s not ready to call it quits at 24, heâ€™s got a plan.
â€œMy little brothers, they train. Rylan and Carter, and theyâ€™re eight or nine and theyâ€™re my students in Coaldale,â€ he said. â€œI did the math and Iâ€™m going to be able to compete on the same three-man team when Iâ€™m about 34 and theyâ€™re about 18 or so and thatâ€™s my goal â€”to be on the same team and show them a thing or two.â€
For now, Anthony said heâ€™s happy to be on a team with young guns like Gateman and Ciana Travaglia. Anthony said the two youngest members of the team are â€œmeanâ€ and fast, a deadly combination.
â€œI wouldnâ€™t want to be in their division,â€ he said.
Part of the trip to Italy includes a seven-day stay after the competition. That plan offers a competitive advantage, said Gateman, as it allows the team to concentrate fully on the event knowing they can sightsee later. It also provides them with a once-in-a lifetime trip.
â€œI saw the world through sport,â€ said Darin. â€œIt allowed me to travel and meet people and go places that I wouldnâ€™t have been able to do without sports.â€
Thatâ€™s part of the reason Legacy hosted an international tournament in Lethbridge in May to support Lethbridge-Taber KidSport. Itâ€™s also why the sponsorship of National Auto Outlet and all the fundraising done by the Team Canada athletes is important.
â€œIâ€™m probably more looking forward to the trip than the competition,â€ said Gateman. â€œI mean, Iâ€™m ready, Iâ€™ve trained and Iâ€™m going to go there to compete and hopefully win but as far as what Iâ€™m really looking forward to is spending time in Italy.â€
Darin said he went to Italy â€” his motherâ€™s homeland â€” 14 years ago and was able to visit the ancestral home. He plans to take Anthony there to share some special family history.
â€œWhen we formed this national team, one of my hopes was that we could expose our athletes to other countries in competition and in culture,â€ he said.
Gateman said she didnâ€™t want to go to Italy and spend the whole time â€œin a sweaty gymâ€ â€” she wants to experience another culture.
â€œDefinitely, it helps me focus on the competition, knowing Iâ€™ll have lots of time to sightsee,â€ she said. â€œIt makes the whole thing pretty amazing.â€
This is the fourth international competition that Legacy Tae Kwon Do has participated in since 2011. Itâ€™s built a tradition Darin Gibson said could lead to more and more travels and more and more athletes seeing the world thanks to taekwondo.
â€œI see it as a legacy, this national program, because itâ€™s something that already weâ€™re seeing a younger group of athletes step up and be selected while others, like Sam, step aside and begin the next phase of their careers.â€
Put that on the door.