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Plant City Observer Friday, Mar. 10, 2017 1 year ago

Athlete of the Week: Levi DeGraaf

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Levi DeGraaf is finding success in karate.
by: Justin Kline Sports/Associate Editor

Master Chris Welbon, of Chris Welbon Karate Clubs, has high praise for student Levi DeGraaf. DeGraaf, who attends Independence Academy, recently earned the third stripe on his brown belt, and also took home two silver and two bronze medals at Florida Championship Series events in Clearwater and Fort Pierce. A member of Welbon’s tournament team, DeGraaf competes in kata, kumite and kobuto events.

Know someone who deserves an Athlete of the Week feature? Email Justin Kline at [email protected] by the Friday before the next issue.

You were in a few big competitions lately, and I see you’ve got a couple of silver and bronze medals here.

At the first one (Clearwater), in January, I got silver in kata and bronze in kumite. In February (at Fort Pierce), I got the opposite: bronze in kata and silver in kumite.

How long have you been doing karate?

Four years, since February.

What got you into the sport?

We saw it somewhere. We saw a demonstration at our church a long time ago.

After you finally got to learn karate, when did you decide that you loved it?

Maybe when I was a solid orange belt, or a green belt. I think two years ago.

Which event is your favorite?

Kata. I like kata.

What makes it the best?

I like it because it’s got all kinds of movements.

When you’re at these big state competitions, how do you keep from getting nervous?

I just go to bed early, feel calm and don’t be cold. Just stay warmed up.

How often do you practice?

A lot … about four days a week. 

What’s your favorite thing about karate? What makes you really love the sport?

I like learning the new katas. I like trying to pass, and then learning the new katas and all the new
movements.

What would you buy with $1 billion?

A giant mansion, or a Lamborghini.

If you could learn any new thing in karate, what would it be?

Nunchucks, because I’ve seen people use them before tournaments, and I want to try to do them.

What’s the most important piece of advice you’ve gotten for karate?

Don’t give up. Be confident. Be very confident and don’t have fear because, if you have fear, you usually don’t pass. But, if you’re confident, you usually do pass.

Justin Kline is the Sports/Associate Editor at the Plant City Observer. He has been covering all things sports-related in the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World since 2013.

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