Ian Herring- University of Alabama (Tuscaloosa)
Although only a Freshman Ian Herring has distinguished himself in both Taekwondo competition and as an internationally ranked Olympic taekwondo sparing athlete In addition, he has set himself apart as a key member of the taekwondo community in the USA by introducing taekwondo to schools, communities and now a top ranked University in the South Eastern Conference. The combination of his academics, community service to the development of sport taekwondo, his top 3 National ranking for the past 5 years and, based upon the nomination and recommendations from his coaches and University, distinguish Ian Herring as the Taekwondo Collegiate Athlete of the Year.
Tell us about your Coach/Coaches:
Now and for the last several years Master Sparks and US National Team Coach Master Scott Snow have been both my coaches and mentors. Master JC Thomas was the teacher that helped me through my first successes in medaling at the National Level and Junior Olympics. However it is important that I acknowledge not just my coaches but the other Masters who have been so influential in my development as an athlete and citizen. Grand Master H.K. Lee of Herndon Virginia, Grand Master Kim of Huntsville Alabama, as well as Masters Juan Moreno, Arlene Limas and Patrice Remark; our US Olympic team Coaches.
Taekwondo is new to the University of Alabama; who is the university team’s Head Coach?
Thanks to the generosity of the University of Alabama and their fantastic support I have been given the opportunity to start and Lead the University’s first Taekwondo Team. In fact it is the first University team for any University in Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Until we are able to attract a strong Olympic Sparring and eventually a poomsae coach I will be the acting head coach (Ian Herring), firstname.lastname@example.org)
What influenced you to get started?
When I was 5 years old, I started taekwondo as something to do with my family, as a way to bond and at that time I was also looking for an activity I was passionate about. I saw taekwondo as something that could begin to add structure and balance to my life which is exactly what it provided.
What has kept you going for so many years?
At first it was my family and just being able to spend time with them on a regular basis. But I soon began to develop a real love for taekwondo, not only the sport but the sense of family and community that came with it. I developed strong relationship with other athletes as well as the instructors and it was through them in addition to my family that I began dedicating my life to taekwondo.
How is Taekwondo a positive influence on your academic life?
Taekwondo has given me the discipline that others might not have to persevere through challenging times and focus on my future and the building blocks of success. Specifically – schoolwork. There have been many times when I would study at my dojang and an instructor would help me with specific problems or simply motivate me to stay focused.
As new as it is; how is your team special?
It is young but we work not only on our skill in TKD but we work on improving each other as members of the community. The one thing I feel truly blessed for is that a team mate from Virginia (Caleb Underbakke form Master Limas’ school) is attending UA and between the two of us, we make a formidable team anchor. We bring the University of Alabama National Championship medals, the US Collegiate Championship medal for the 2015 – 2016 academic year, 3rd place at the 2016 Pan American Collegiate Taekwondo Championships along with world ranking. UA is a special place where Taekwondo is already and will continue to be a strong positive influence on each student and through each student the city of Tuscaloosa. One activity I hope to be the first of many community service activities is the start a tutoring program, in the immediate future, to ensure the academic success of our team and other club sports because at this point, every athlete in college is a student first.
How has Taekwondo been a good influence on the university?
The University immediately saw the benefits that go hand in hand for both the students and the community even before I was formally enrolled. The Student affairs office, Athletic Department, Student Activities and the legal department all seem to “get it” right away. They provided a training space, access to strength and conditioning and rehabilitation resources. This incredible support of Taekwondo and its benefits to the community was one of the major factors in my choosing Alabama. UA truly has an incredible focus on providing every resource for their students to be successful. As I mentioned earlier as a part of improving ourselves as members of the community and as new members of the UA community we seek to help others by spreading positivity and assistance whenever and with whatever resources we can. As a part of the tutoring program I hope to establish I want to be able to introduce other students to the world of taekwondo and make a positive difference in their lives.
What are your goals after graduation?
I intend on pursuing an active duty commission in the United States Army while continuing taekwondo through the US military’s world class athlete program.
What are your future goals for Taekwondo?
One day I hope to train the next generation of world class athletes and help them pursue their own dreams.
(Tae Kwon Do Life Magazine apologizes for the delay in premiering this post. Olympic coverage superseded all other news in August)