Like many of her students, Amy Maillet’s interest in Taekwondo started at a young age. She was just 6 when she saw a martial arts class during a chance visit to her dad’s weightlifting gym. Something about the sport captured her imagination and never let go.
Today, Maillet is a 25 year-old Taekwondo champion with a big shot to make the US national team in the coming months. When she’s not training for her own competitions, Maillet spends her days and evenings teaching the sport to a new generation at Modern Taekwondo Center (MTC) on Gallivan Boulevard.
“I just love it,” says Maillet, who joined the instruction staff at the Dorchester storefront after graduating from Brandeis University in 2010. “Every few months there’s a new belt, a new goal, a new challenge. I think that’s what’s so great about Taekowndo for kids. It’s stimulating to have those goals in front of you.”
Maillet, a native of Orange, MA, who now lives in Cambridge, is already the Massachusetts champion in her division. Last month, she earned a bronze medal at the national tournament in Dallas. That earned her a chance to compete for a spot on the national team that will represent the US at the 2013 World Championships in Mexico next year. “Ms. Amy”— as she’s known to her students—will head out to the Olympic Training Center in Colorado for the team trials in January.
“Being on the US team is a longtime goal Ive had,” says Maillet, who still dreams of a possible spot on a future Olympic squad if she can stay healthy. A knee injury suffered in 2011 nearly ended her competitive career, but her June wins in Denver has rekindled her hopes for a bigger stage.
Maillet has already had a taste of the international stage: She represented the United States at the World University Games in Vigo, Spain in 2010. This is Maillet’s third time qualifying for the US Team Trials. She is currently ranked in the top five in her division. For now, the prospect of earning a spot on the US team next year is her main motivator.
Her winning spirit seems to be catching at the Gallivan Boulevard school as well. Open since 2009 in its current location, the school took first place at an international tournament staged at BC High in June, a surprise outcome that has cheered the young crop of kids, that start classes as young as 4. The Dorchester school bested a number of other more established Taekwondo schools from Boston and around the globe— brining home a total of 37 medals and a huge, six-foot trophy for their overall triumph.
Master Fredson Gomes, who owns Modern Taekwondo Center along with Master Chris Tuozzolo, said Maillet’s national win has been a huge boost for the kids too.
“It’s added a lot of energy to the school,” said Gomes, who has known Maillet since they were both young competitors on the state tournament circuit and recruited her to teach at MTC. “We are so lucky to have her teaching here.”
For more information on MTC, see its website moderntkdcenter.com. The school has rolling admission for kids ages 4-6 and seasonal sign-ups for kids 7 and up.