Junior Oli McCann

Kicking things up, junior Oli McCann is taking her junior year to the next level.

Sydni Meyer

   Junior Oli McCann’s training shouts echo throughout the building as she practices Tae Kwon Do at Liberty’s Pak’s Academy.

   McCann has been doing it since she was 4 years old and she loves it.

   “In seventh grade I was sparring with another kid who had his guard down low. I reminded him to keep it up, and I thought he had shifted, but I kicked, and at the last moment, he lowered his guard again,” McCann said. “I accidentally broke his finger. He forgave me and we laugh about it now, but at the time I was horrified.”

   McCann has been working her way up and has finally reached a third-degree black belt.

   “Testing for a black belt takes about six months,” McCann said. “It’s incredibly difficult. You have to go through lots of tests that focus on various things.”

   She described the hardest test for her is the endurance-based ones. She has to run three miles or does 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups in a row. There’s also a test to kick a punching bag 150 times, clean the blood of the bag and then do another 150 kicks.

   McCann has been doing sports for so long that she started to build up a pretty high pain tolerance.

   “It took me five years to get my first-degree black belt, another three to get my second-degree, and still another three to get my third-degree, which I got in November of 2017,” McCann said.

   It took McCann years to work up to where she is. It also took a lot of patience to wait for so long to get her third-degree black belt.

   “I can’t choose one thing that I like best about Tae Kwon Do, because there’s so much to it. There are so many aspects to it, like forms, sparring, self-defense, and demonstrations,” McCann said.

   Tae Kwon Do isn’t McCann’s only interest. She is also involved in theatre, choir and speech and debate.

   Throughout high school, McCann had advanced into Concert Choir, and junior Izzie Bates notices all the talent McCann has.

   “She’s the kind of person who doesn’t step away from a challenge,” Bates said. “She is very kind and outgoing to people who need a friend.”

   Competitive theater teacher Michael Turpin commends McCann for her tenacity.

   “She is actually kind of quiet but she is super friendly and always has what it takes to get the job done,” Turpin said.

   Through the thick and thin, McCann makes sure to always have a clear vision of the big picture.

   “When you do any sport for as long as I have, you build up a pretty high pain tolerance, so while the physical tests can be rough, it’s not that bad in the grand scheme of things. Plus, it’s more than worth it. While I’m kicking or running, I just have to remind myself what I’m working towards,” McCann said.