Just a few hours after last of Team Crazy 88 flew back home to Baltimore, three members were promoted to the next belt rank. First up was Vannessa Griffin. After going 5-1 at the World Championships and winning the blue belt lightweight division, she was promoted to the rank of purple belt. Julius Park, the head coach, remarked that he appreciated her maturity in how she approached the Worlds. She did what she had to do in order to win and his confidence in her was very high.
Next was Alfonso “Big Sal” Washington. Big Sal was promoted to Purple belt exactly two years ago, right after the Worlds and has been competing at a high level consistently since then. At the 2015 Worlds, he took third in the Ultra Heavyweight division to close out two long seasons at purple belt. He ends his Purple Belt days with 2 medals from the Gi World Championships and 2 from the No Gi World Championship. Park had mentioned that he admired his dedication and the fact that he always came back after suffering from serious injuries, and to this day, never gave up.
Last up for the day was long time student Panya Mitchell. As a wife and mother of two, Ms. Payna is successfully able to balance her personal life with her passion for jiu jitsu and her family’s involvement at Crazy 88 everyday. Her husband, Ivor Mitchell, is also a Crazy 88 Blue Belt.
Her promotion to blue belt was justified with the famous quote from Julius Park, “If there were more of these people at the gym, would it make the place better or worse?” With Ms. Panya’s positive attitude, dedication, and constant willingness to learn it was easy to say that the gym will certainly be better.