Jiu-Jitsu sheds light on physically impaired

In the last minutes of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu No-Gi tournament, Jose Rugama of Smash Squad MMA from Ontario Martial Arts Center and senior Jahi Gains compete in a non-placement battle. The event was hosted by public relations major Candice Nunez to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation ­­­Saturday at the Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion. See story on page 6. / photo by Jerri White
In the last minutes of the Brazilian Jiu Jitsu No-Gi tournament, Jose Rugama of Smash Squad MMA from Ontario Martial Arts Center and senior Jahi Gains compete in a non-placement battle. The event was hosted by public relations major Candice Nunez to benefit the Challenged Athletes Foundation ­­­Saturday at the Sports Science and Athletic Pavilion. / photo by Jerri White

Jolene Nacapuy
Sports Editor

Sports enthusiasts took on the challenge of a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu No-Gi tournament Saturday in the Sports Science and Athletics Pavilion, hosted by Candice Nunez, for her senior project that benefited the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

Nunez, public relations major, played sports her entire life and found a passion in sports public relations. After ending her 17-year softball career, she picked up the sport of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

“For my senior project, I wanted to find a way to incorporate my love for sports. After attending and competing in a few BJJ tournaments and getting to see the inner workings of the fight world, I decided to organize and plan a tournament of my own,” Nunez said. “Since my senior project encourages working with a non-profit, I came across the Challenged Athletes Foundation and fell in love with the cause and their mission.”

The tournament benefited the CAF, an organization that provides the opportunities and support to people with physical challenges so they can pursue a healthy lifestyle through physical fitness.

“Personally knowing people with physical disabilities who still have a passion for sports and competition, I felt it was only naturally for myself to work with this foundation and give back to those athletes who still had the same competition that I did,” Nunez said.

ULV students, Smash Squad MMA, Cortinas Training Association and non-affiliates participated in the event.

Pre-registration for the tournament was open all month and most of the competitors signed up the day of. Each of the competitors gave their name, age, gender, weight class and amount of experience.

The cost to participate for pre-register was $25 and $30 the day of the event and you had to be over 18-years-old.

The brackets were broken down like basketball brackets, where each participant would move on to the next round if they won.

Senior psychology major Jahi Gains was one of the winners in the brackets, who really enjoyed his first Jiu-Jitsu event.

“It was a good experience and I did mostly good until I got caught and lost in the final,” Gains said.

Gains said the wave of intensity during the tournament was very realistic and if there was another event like this he would do it again.

“It was kind of cool to see something different going on like a Jiu-Jitsu competition because it’s not like it happens all the time,” junior chemistry major Bryan Okereke said. “I wish we did more events like this and it’s nice for Candice to do this for a good cause.”
Nunez has planned this event for two months on her own, from the amount of paper work and organizing, to getting everything approved by the University.

Though with much stress, Nunez had a good support system to help her along the process like Adjunct Kickboxing Jiu-Jitsu Professor Liron Wilson, Adjunct Professor of Journalism Randy Miller, Director of Risk Management Alexander Soto and Professor of Movement and Sports Science Paul Alvarez.

Nunez hoped to raise awareness with this event and felt that through the hard work she put into it, it came out successful.

“For my event, I hoped to raise awareness on behalf of all of the physically impaired athletes and shine a line on their accomplishments and their drive to keep going, even after facing hard times,” Nunez said.

If you would like to donate and support the CAF, go to challengedathletes.org.

Jolene Nacapuy can be reached at jolene.nacapuy@laverne.edu.

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