Troy, Mo. - Six months.
Six months of training.
Six months of preparation and hard work all came down to one week, one week to prove your country is the best in the world.
As part of Team USA, Boyer Academy in Troy had several members participate in the WKU World Games in Cardiff, Wales, where they went against fellow participants from 22 other countries.
Matt Boyer and five of his students earned the opportunity at the WKU Team USA Qualifier in Evansville, Indiana in May – in what was a last-minute decision to compete. Once the team arrived in Wales for the tournament, the students first found the experience a little overwhelming at first.
“It felt good to be there and get it over with,” said Benjamin Boyer, who competed in the 12-and-under group.
“It was nerve-wracking,” said Emily O’Brien, another competitor in the 12-and-under division. “I was excited.”
The number of competitors surprised Joslyn Boyer when she arrived at the WKU World Games.
“It was very loud,” said Boyer, who also competed in the 12-and-under group. “There were a lot of people.”
The older students also said they suffered from a case of nerves at the beginning, but quickly realized why they were there.
“I was definitely nervous, but I was excited,” said Madeline O’Brien, who competed in the Juniors Division. “I knew I worked hard for this moment and knew everyone else who was (in Wales) trained hard as well for this moment.”
“It started to feel real (once I got there),” said Teens Division competitor Kendall Mosher. “When I was training, nothing seemed to be happening. Once I got there, it all made sense.”
Matt Boyer said the language barrier between the Welsh and everyone else got confusing at time during the tournament.
“(The tournament representatives) used a lot of hand gestures for communication,” he said. “It was interesting, to say the least.”
The competition schedule was also grueling for the competitors. Not everyone competed at the same time, whether it was katas, point fighting, weapons or kick light.
“For eliminations, I had to do all five events I was in on the same day, and I qualified for three,” Mosher said. “I had a day break, and then three events that day.
“Some of my competitions were back to back, so I only had five minutes to prepare and get my forms right.”
Emily O’Brien had two events on the first day, and two more on the second day of the games. Nevertheless, she said it got better as the week went along.
“I qualified for three events, then I moved on to the end of the week for finals,” she said. “It wasn’t too terrible during the break.”
Some of the students had it a little easier than others.
“It was tiring, but it was less confusing than the others, because I only had two events, and they were two days apart from one another,” said Riley Palm, who competed in the Teens Division.
“It was kind of nice, because I had a break in my stuff,” said Emily O’Brien, who had two events in one day with a day break in between.
When they weren’t competing, the team was running from one ring to another to cheer their teammates on.
“The kids ran around helping each other,” Matt Boyer said. “We spent most of the time running back and forth from one ring to another to support one another.”
Boyer also said just because they had a little time off, that didn’t mean they weren’t practicing and preparing.
“Anywhere we could find to practice, we would go to practice,” he said. “We practiced in a parking lot, a hotel lobby in the dark and in a parking garage.”
The team has many great memories of its time in Wales. One memory the teammates would like to forget was the food, where the ratings ranged from “interesting” to “horrible.”
“No way was it great,” Emily O’Brien said. “It was gross.”
“I had pizza nearly every day,” Mosher said. “If you had pizza, you knew you were getting something decent.”
The team recounted a moment where most of the members had chicken strips, which by all accounts, were not very good, with the exception of one member of the team.
“I didn’t order any of the bad food,” Palm said. “When they ordered the chicken, I got the Philly steakburger.”
When the week was over, Boyer and his students represented Team USA at the highest level.
Mosher earned bronze medals in all three of the events she qualified for: Karate Traditional Kata, Weapons – No Music and Karate Weapons. Joslyn Boyer earned silver medals in Kumite and Kick Light, as well as a bronze medal in Point Fighting, and Benjamin Boyer earned bronze in Korean Forms.
Madeline O’Brien earned a trio of bronzes in Korean Forms, Kick Light and Point Fighting, and Emily Boyer also won a silver in Kick Light – and bronze medals in Point Fighting and Korean Forms.
Matt Boyer was not to be outdone by his students, however, earning silvers in Korean Kata and Weapons, and a gold medal in Traditional-style Kata.
With his performance, Matt Boyer automatically qualified for the 2023 WKU World Games in Calgary, Alberta – and he said his students already want to work to join him there.
“(This trip) was absolutely worth it,” he said. “The students want to try to qualify again next year.”
Boyer said he was proud of all the months of hard work his students put in to get ready for the WKU World Games, and the work they put in once they got there.
“Overall, it was the camaraderie with the team that I’ll remember most,” he said. “They never gave up. They worked hard, and supported each other the whole trip.
“It’ll be a memory they’ll never forget.”