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Youth Grappler Grace: Being a Role Model is the Most Powerful Form of Educating, No Matter Your Age

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While this writer was attending The Good Fight Grappling Tournament in New Jersey I kept hearing mention one particular match. It was between this young female who had an approximately 50 minute match against a male who was 23 pounds heavier than her. Later I discovered her name was Grace and had just turned 12 years old. At the Good Fight Grace won the Girls Division that day, even though her 50 min match ended in a draw. Grace’s athletic ability and heart instantly drew some attention. Upon speaking with her Coach Zachery Maslany, I got to discover how much of a talent this young lady is.
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As previously stated Grace just turned 12, and resides in Bethlehem PA. She currently trains at Finishers MMA / 10th Planet Bethlehem. She practically lives on the mats being she trains six days a week, training with both youth and adults. Everyone involved with Grace Witnesses her high level disciplined and motivated exhibited at such a young age. She truly shows a love for the sport and is happiest training and at home on the mats.

Grace’s love for martial arts began at the age of four. Her brother had received Karate classes and did not enjoy the sport, so grace went in his place. She trained karate, kickboxing, and grappling. As a goal-oriented kid, the belt system motivated her to train hard and move up in rank. Later she became the school’s youngest student to obtain junior black belt rank.

Grace began Submission grappling when she was eight years old and competed in NAGA at nine years old. At her first tournament she lost both her matches and went home without placing. That did not discourage this young athlete it only motivated her to train harder. A few months later she had another opportunity at NAGA, and she placed first. She then went on to win at Grapplers Quest, submitting three boys along the way. She won beginner, intermediate, and advanced divisions all within a few months of losing that first tournament. Since then she has competed in over 30 competitions at the advanced level.

At age 10 Grace began training at Finishers MMA / 10th Planet Bethlehem. Since her training there the love of grappling and BJJ has only grown. We expect to see big things from her in the world of combat sports, and believe she is a spectacular example of the positive effects of youth sports. She is breaking barriers for females in the sport as well, taking on anyone that is put in front of her, growing and learning from her loses as well as her wins. In our mind she was a champion the second she placed her feet on the mat and will look forward to watching her in action in the future. Despite her young age she has shown the passion and ability to educate others, and grown as an athlete in this sport.
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Autumn Ziemba
Autumn’s interest in Martial Arts began in her early teens through her father and brother. They trained together for several years. During those years she was also active in Sports. Autumn took a break from Martial Arts and athletics to pursue her education. She completed her Undergraduate Degree at Oneonta State College in Sociology with a concentration in Pre-professional Human Services. She then studied Social Sciences at Binghamton University receiving her Masters in Social Science in 2009. Her passion lies in Gender equality for sports and facets of Mixed Martial Arts. She currently works as a Criminal Justice Professional. Writing is a passion of hers and she enjoys engaging with people of various backgrounds to gain an understanding of different perspectives in the world of MMA.