Greg Rockefeller and Mike Hill started a kickboxing group last year in LaSalette Hall.
"We nicknamed our basement location as The Pitt," said Hill, noting the LaSalette Rural Roots Community group has been very supportive of their small kickboxing group.
"We teach ways to defend and stress the sickness of bullying," said Hill. "Recently, we were lucky to have added coach Dennis Guerney for helping with boxing techniques and combinations."
A side goal was competing in light contact kickboxing. In April, students competed at the WKC Regionals in London and then May 15 in Ottawa, the following group all qualified for the WKC Worlds in Orlando in November – Clayton Meyer, Mike Hill, Bobbi Ann Dwornikiewicz, Greg Rockefeller, Aaron Mostbacher, Ryan Hill, Jagger Rockefeller, Suzanne Hill, Ronda Meyer, Luca Meyer, and Ewan Lindsay.
Hill and Greg Rockefeller, who both competed at the WKC Worlds when they were in Montreal (2012), are using that experience to train at The Pitt as they prepare for Orlando.
"We can bring our training experience from Martial Arts Canada and we have been able to bring in guest coaches from MAC who have showed new ideas and techniques," said Hill.
The 2013 and 2014 WKC Worlds were both held in Europe.
MPP Toby Barrett spoke on behalf of The Pitt at the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on Tuesday, May 26.
"On any given night the population of the rural hamlet of La Salette is nearly doubled as children, teens and adults gather at The Pitt," said Barrett. "The Pitt is a basement where local martial arts coaches Mike Hill and Greg Rockefeller are creating active, strong competitors through kick-boxing. Their equipment is used, it’s minimal, yet they effectively train.
"For some, it’s a place to escape the schoolyard bully and deal with anxiety in a safe, positive environment. For others it’s a place to get the adrenaline pumping and discover new muscles. Regardless, students leave The Pitt proud and simply can’t wait to return. My executive assistant, Bobbi Ann, is one of those students. She calls the pit home and other students her family.
"Recently, a group of these students of various ages entered the World Karate and Kickboxing Commission provincial qualifiers. As a result, The Pitt earned the right to compete over the holiday weekend at the nationals in Ottawa. This group brought back gold, silver and bronze. Next stop is Orlando in November for the world championships.
"In order to now compete globally they need better equipment, uniforms and some help with travel expenses. It’s truly a story of the little engine that could, and I would ask anyone inspired by these accomplishments to help them get to Orlando to represent Canada on the world stage."