Up-and-coming martial arts practitioner Tia Gonzalez has recently named student of the year and earned her dan black belt in taekwondo recently.
Gonzalez’s parents, Carlos and Darlene Gonzalez, said they are proud of their daughter.
Carlos Gonzalez said his daughter started taken taekwondo classes four years ago.
“Tia was already being self-conscious of her appearance, as she was taller than the average girl of her age,” he wrote in a statement, adding his daughter wanted to maintain her weight and feel challenged mentally and physically.
Her parents researched various programs and, after discussing options with their daughter, selected SKIES Unlimited Taekwondo program on Fort Stewart.
Initially apprehensive that the program would be too physical, Gonzalez said his daughter proved she could handle the toughness, quickly excelling in the program.
Since October 2011, Tia Gonzalez has moved through the ranks of white, yellow, orange, green, purple, blue, brown, red, high-red and deputy black belt.
According Gonzalez, she has participated in 18 tournaments around the Southeast, often placing first, second or third in her respective divisions.
Her taekwondo instructor, Philip Konz, said she tested for her black belt in October and was presented the dan black belt in a Dec. 3 ceremony.
“Tia is probably one of the best students I’ve ever had,” he said. “She is always striving to be her best.”
Gonzalez, a Bradwell freshman, said she loves everything about the sport, adding that she is always training and has added weight training at school to improve her performance.
She has also started training with swords, throwing stars and nunchukas.
“We are proud and will continue to support her in her endeavors in the martial arts,” her dad said.