Following a first-place finish at the U.S. National Karate Federation (USA-NKF) National Championships and USA Team Trials in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Tomas Greer ’16 advanced to the World Karate Federation (WTK) Pan American Championships in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, where he earned the bronze medal.
Greer, who represented his country as a member of the United States U-21 team for the sixth time in seven years, competed in the Men’s Kumite 18-20/+84Kg (172+lbs) Heavyweight Division, where he successfully defeated opponents from Chile and Canada, before falling to Mexico. Due to the loss in the third round, Greer competed for the right to face off in the bronze medal match, which he won by defeating the member of the host country, Bolivia.
It was the second bronze medal in the last five years for the 20-year-old Greer, who has been involved in karate since he was in kindergarten.
“The teachers were afraid I was mute because I wouldn’t talk in class, so they told my mom to put me in out-of-school activities,” says Greer. “We had a mutual friend whose daughters were in karate and she suggested it to my mom.”
After learning the basics and fundamentals of the sport, Greer entered the field of competitive karate when he was seven. Although he was not the best in his class at his age and would often get disqualified at tournaments, Greer didn’t give up and instead dedicated more time and energy to practicing and training.
Seven years later he made his first U-21 team, representing the U.S. at the Pan American Junior Championships in El Salvador. Two years after that, he made his first world championships in Malaysia, doing so after winning his first bronze medal at the Pan Ams in Fortaleza, Brazil.
“It’s pretty surreal,” he says. “I never imagined back then that I would be where I am now. It just goes to show that if you work hard at something, you can be good at it.”
Now, a full-time student and member of both the sprint football and track and field teams at CHC, Greer has found a way to balance being successful in academics and athletics through time management and increased discipline, two of the many things karate has taught him over the years.
“Karate teaches a lot of life lessons and offers a lot of transferrable skills,” Greer says. “It really forces you to use your brain, too, because it’s not the fastest or strongest player who wins, but the smartest.”
While karate has taken somewhat of a backseat to his education, lessening the amount of tournaments Greer has competed in per year, he still maintains a competitive schedule, which includes yearly meets in Las Vegas (The U.S. Open), Canada (The Toronto Open), the USA-NKF National Championships and this year, for the first time in his career, a tournament in Pennsylvania (The Philadelphia Open).
Through it all, Greer somehow also found the time to earn his first-degree black belt last March.
Greer is looking forward to the next chapter of his life, be it grad school or finding a job in his field of communications. One thing is certain, however, karate will always be important to him.
“I love the traveling karate has allowed me to do, the people it’s allowed me to meet, the accomplishments it's allowed me to have and the person it’s helped me become,” Greer says. “As long as it doesn’t interfere with a job, I have no doubt karate will always be in the picture.”
— Marilee Gallagher '14