USA Judo and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks launches first “Homegrown” Pilot Judo Program. The purpose of this program is to introduce Los Angeles area youth to the benefits associated with judo, both on and off the mat, as well as begin the pipeline of potentially creating a “Homegrown” Olympian or Paralympian over the next nine years. With Los Angeles hosting the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, this partnership will jump start the hopes of developing athletes who may represent Team USA in their hometown and on the international stage.
Pilot programs will be held at the following four Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Centers:
- Culver Slauson Recreation Center – 5070 S. Slauson Ave., Culver City, CA 90230
- Denker Recreation Center – 1550 W 25th Pl, Los Angeles, CA90018
- Evergreen Recreation Center – 2844 E 2nd St., Los Angeles, CA90033
- Normandie Park Recreation Center – 1550 Normandie Ave., Los Angeles, CA90006
Teaching at these recreation centers will be sanctioned USA Judo instructors from around the LA Metro Region, including Richard (“Blinky”) Elizalde, who is co-instructor of the first and longest running after-school judo program in the Los Angeles Area (Gompers Middle School), founded by the first American Judo World Champion and fellow instructor, Dr. AnnMaria De Mars. Elizalde was also the first coach for Olympic Bronze Medalist and MMA Champion, Ronda Rousey. “In partnership with all the judo instructors in the LA area, we see the “Homegrown” Pilot Judo Program as a fantastic opportunity to introduce children to a sport and martial art that has positively transformed the lives of so many individuals we’ve coached over the years,” said Elizalde.
“Within the LA Recreation and Parks Department, we are always looking for new opportunities to provide the youth of our community,” said Randy Kelly, Recreation Superintendent for the City of Los Angeles. “We are thrilled with the physical, mental and cultural values that judo will introduce to our participants, and the partnership with USA Judo certainly ensures our program is one of the best in the nation.”
The genesis for the program started with meetings between members of the leadership team at the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and USA Judo last December. Since then instructors have been recruited and vetted, equipment purchased, and recreation centers identified for the “Homegrown” Pilot Judo Program are excited and ready to start registering participants.
“We are thrilled to partner with the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks in this first-of-its kind program for USA Judo,” said USA Judo CEO Keith Bryant. “We are grateful to LA Recreation and Parks and to the local instructors who have made the commitment to teach future generations the sport of judo. Our ultimate dream for this program is to see a 2028 Olympian or Paralympian emerge through this opportunity nine years from now. However, most importantly, we know the life lessons all the students will learn through judo participation will benefit the Los Angeles Community for years to come.”
For more information and to register for one of the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks judo offerings, visit www.laparks.org.