By Makayla Paige Cox
The SANIX trip has allowed me to grow as a person and judoka for two years in a row. For both years, I trained my hardest and made new friends from several different countries. I was given the opportunity to visit some of Japan’s most beautiful areas and experience their culture and architecture. When I returned to the Global Arena in December 2017, I was able to spend time with friends that I made in 2016 on Team USA and also from other teams, like the UAE team. I would have not been able to do this without the SANIX trip and opportunity. It was great to see so many familiar faces!
While the entire trip was amazing, my favorite part was the Birmingham Y Team winning our first round at the tournament. Last year, I didn’t get to experience a win, so I was ecstatic that I could this year. All of the ladies on the Birmingham Y Team won their first match by ippon. Everyone was very excited for us! It was awesome to be able to have everyone cheer for us. I am so happy that I was able to experience that with the entire USA team.
I would like to thank everyone that made this trip possible and such an unforgettable experience. I would especially like to thank Sensei Saito for his time and help both on and off the mat. Without the support from the judo community, these opportunities would not be possible. I was fortunate to have had the opportunity for two years! Thank you!