Jeffries wins world title; 9-year-old dreams of going to Olympics

Jamie Jeffries is a smiling, happy 9-year-old with a dream. He wants to represent the U.S. in the Olympics.

It all started four years ago while visiting relatives in Washington state. His mom, Sylvia, was talking to relatives about their children’s extracurricular activities. Since the twins, Jamie and Natalie, were home-schooled she was looking for a way to keep them involved and interact with their peers.

She learned that their Washington relatives were into martial arts and studied karate.

When the family returned to Boulder City they started looking for a school where they could try out a few classes.

“I loved it right away,” Jamie said. “We used to do soccer and floor hockey but now I only do taekwondo.”

Wanting only the best of teachers for her children she found Family American Taekwondo Association with schools in Boulder City and nearby Henderson, Nev. Instructors Jen Nordstrom and Amy Patterson welcomed Jamie and Natalie and began the arduous task of getting the young twins involved in the arts. Family ATA owner Bobby Erdman also spends several hours per week working with Jamie.

“Jamie is not a lump of coal; he is a true diamond. His integrity and drive to keep working when no one is looking shows his motivation and dedication to the sport,” Erdman said.

When Jamie talks about how fast he moved up the ranks in competition he said, “I was excited and felt very good about doing the moves and I learned very quickly.”

“He was amazing,” said Jamie’s father, Kris Jeffries, a broker/manager for Boulder City Real Estate. “Jamie became a star student almost immediately and it has been wonderful to travel with him to meets around the country and watch him excel. It’s also great boy time.”

Kris Jeffries also speaks quietly about “hearing other parents talk about Jamie when he walks onto the floor … really makes me proud.”

Although a black belt in her own right Natalie has chosen not to participate as much in the taekwondo competitions. Instead she has chosen to dance, and dance she does. Working with Dance Etc. in Boulder City, she studies four or five nights a week. working on tap, ballet, jazz and hip-hop.

“I dance four to five hours per night, taking a dinner break in between sessions,” she said.

Sylvia Jeffries is a brown belt and has a dental practice in Henderson. Because of her business she said she doesn’t get to travel as much with Jamie.

More than 100 medals adorn the headboard of Jamie’s bed and “when I turn over or get up they rattle,” he said.

Probably his most prized award is the ATA world championship he received earlier this summer at ATA headquarters in Little Rock, Ark.

“Jamie also placed second in weapons and third in forms. He was the only person to place in all three events. To compete in the tournament, you must be in the top 10 in the world standings. He was also the 2014 and 2015 District Champion for sparring.” Kris Jeffries explained.

Most 9-year-olds would be overwhelmed by all of the notoriety, but Jamie takes it all in stride.

“I like to challenge myself,” he said.

When asked if he ever thinks about losing, he immediately said, “NO!” But after a couple of seconds said, “Well maybe sometimes, but it’s no big deal I just go on to the next bout.”

Kris Jeffries said Jamie takes his work and accomplishments seriously.

“It’s almost like his job. He just gets up and goes to work and nobody has to push him to get out of bed or anything it’s just what he does.”

“I think Jamie will accomplish the goals he has set for himself,” Nordstrom said. “He always practices for perfection, and works on his tasks until he succeeds. He is a great leader and role model for the other students, usually with a smile on his face.”

“Jamie was invited to Santiago, Chile, to work with the U.S. team during the Pan Am Games but opted to stay home this year,” Erdman added.

With the work ethic and drive to succeed that Jamie shows in pursuing his art no one in his group of friends and family doubts that someday he will achieve his dream.

Contact Andy Saylor at andyhali@msn.com.

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