Glenview teens to compete in international karate tournament

GLENVIEW (CBS) – The Maccabiah Games, known as the Jewish Olympics, are held every four years in Israel, bringing together 10,000 athletes from 60 counties to compete in 47 sports.

CBS 2’s Jacie Kostek spoke with two young black belts from Glenview who will get the chance to represent Team USA this week.

Ava Brenner and Julia Kerpel had their final training before leaving for Israel at the North Shore Dojo in Glenview.

“My tournament mode blocks everyone, listens to me and trusts me,” Brenner said. She added, “My whole karate career, I’ve been waiting for this day and it’s getting more real.”

Brenner, 15, said she started karate when she was just 5 years old. Kerpel, 17, started at 10.

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The Maccabiah Games, known as the Jewish Olympics, are held every four years in Israel, bringing together 10,000 athletes from 60 counties to compete in 47 sports. CBS 2’s Jacie Kostek spoke with two young black belts from Glenview who will get the chance to represent Team USA this week.

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As they worked towards their black belts, they were surrounded by constant reminders of an eventual goal.

“We have flags all over the Maccabiah dojo and my sensei told me he wanted me to go and I said, ‘OK, great, how can I do this? ‘” Kerpel said.

While earning a black belt as a teenager isn’t necessarily uncommon, representing your country and competing internationally is. But for Brenner as for Kerpel, the path was first traced by their families.

“I started because my mom was actually a black belt,” Kerpel said. “My mom, my grandma and my uncle all trained in this dojo with this sensei, Jeff Kohn.”

Brenner said: “I got started in the sport by my dad who trained for over 30 years, I think, and he really wanted me to start. He said, ‘I don’t care if I have a daughter or a boy. She does karate or he does karate.”

Brenner’s father himself competed in the Maccabiah Games in 1997 and will be the junior karate coach for Team USA this year.

But beyond preparing for the Maccabiah Games, the girls said karate prepared them for something else: life.

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The Maccabiah Games, known as the Jewish Olympics, are held every four years in Israel, bringing together 10,000 athletes from 60 counties to compete in 47 sports. CBS 2’s Jacie Kostek spoke with two young black belts from Glenview who will get the chance to represent Team USA this week.

SCS


“Karate taught me strength and discipline,” Kerpel said. “I’m a young woman. I’m going to university soon and it’s really important for my mother and my family that I can protect myself physically and mentally.”

So, as their families moved into karate, both girls said the motivation was theirs now and they would likely continue to pass it on.

“If I have kids, I want them to too,” Brenner said.

Brenner and Kerpel had planned to travel to Israel this week ahead of the July 14 opening ceremony. The junior karate tournament is scheduled for July 19-20.

Kristen T. Prall