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Teen will take a love of fighting to nationals
Alexis Campisi got into karate as a result of a Valentine's gift.
By CHRIS WAGENHEIM, Times Staff Writer
Published September 7, 2007
Black belt Alex Campisi (left) practices with blue belt Melissa Jones at Ingram's Pro Karate Center in New Port Richey.
[Zach Boyden-Holmes | Times]
Valentine's Day is usually about flowers and candy, but for 14-year-old U.S. National Team member Alexis Campisi it will always be a little bit about karate.
"It was an accident to tell you the truth," said Campisi's mother, Debbie. "One of her classmates gave her a Valentine's card, which was great, and it was for two free karate lessons."
Campisi's older brother knew the daughter of the dojo owners at Ingram's Karate and encouraged his mother to let Campisi, then a fourth-grader, go and try it. Campisi went, never looked back, and now is one of three athletes from Ingram's to be chosen for the U.S. National Team.
After a season that ended in a successful national tournament, Campisi was asked to try out for the U.S. team. Campisi won gold, for WKF sparring; two silvers - one for team scoring and one for Epon; and a bronze for Sanban.
"At nationals, what they do is they watch your performance," said Ingram instructor Jennifer Davenport. "They see how you place, and then they also hold a team trial where they watch you on a separate day. The athletes are really chosen based on their abilities."
Last season Campisi was selected as an alternate but was never called in to fill a spot. Campisi said she was pleasantly surprised to be selected this year.
"I would love to just get out of the country and spar," Campisi said.
Although she does not know where she will be going, locations of past tournaments around the globe include Russia, Japan, Hungary, Scotland, Brazil, Serbia, Italy, Spain, Dubai and Canada.
Kumite, or fighting, is Campisi's best event, but based on national results she is capable in other disciplines. Campisi, however, is in love with combat.
Although she will talk about her achievements and her sport, it is not something she will readily advertise.
A lot of her classmates at Mitchell High School are not aware of her extracurricular activities.
"It is not really something you talk about," Alexis Campisi said. "Karate requires humility. You don't tell everybody that you are on the U.S. team for karate and that you are really good at kicking people's butts. You don't advertise that kind of thing."
As for the worry that comes along with a contact sport, Campisi's mother keeps her cool and puts her trust in her daughter's ability.
"Part of being a mom is that you don't want to see your children get hurt," Debbie Campisi said. "But she handles herself well, and I don't have a lot of concern."
Also joining Campisi on the U.S. team will be Shawn Roof and Tony Previte.
Roof, 16, attends Mitchell with Campisi and won two silver medals at nationals.
Previte, 21, was selected to the adult national team after winning two bronze medals at national and then a gold at the Isshinryu Tournament in Tennessee.