A few weeks ago, 16-year-old Madison Healey of Bel Air was among a contingent of athletes from the U.S. Taekwondo Academy in Bel Air that traveled to Texas for nationals. Like the others, Healey had earned her way there, but more than some others, Healey really earned her way there and returned with a silver medal in sparring.
Healey, who attends Bel Air High School and is enrolled in the Biomedical Sciences Program, was faced with a financial situation that she dealt with head on. Healey took on two jobs to pay the extra fees required to be part of Team Chang. If not a part of that team, no trip to nationals. No trip, no silver medal.
"I felt bad, it is a lot of money," Healey said in reference to the additional costs. "It's $50 per week." Healey's parents were already footing the bill for standard classes, so the hard and unfortunate answer from them to pay for Team Chang was no. Team Chang practices meant two more additional practices each week.
Instead of giving up, Healey stepped up and took jobs, at Rita's and at the U.S. Taekwondo Academy itself, working with an after school program, highlighted by homework and training. Jokingly, Healey said, "I definitely don't want to be a teacher."
Working the two jobs gave Healey the extra money to train with Team Chang, a team she tried out for and made. Healey also was able to pay for a few extra lessons. She also did fundraising to pay for the airline tickets and hotel, raising more than $1,000 just for that.
Working and attending taekwondo classes was not all Healey was doing. She took honors course work, participated in the biomed program, made the honor roll, met with two different tutors twice a week to keep her grades up and volunteers at Upper Chesapeake Hospital once a week. Healey was also a captain for Bel Air's JV field hockey team last season.
"Just being there was worth it," Healey said of the work she put in to make the trip possible.
In winning a silver medal, Healey said, "It's the biggest accomplishment of my life, so far."
Healey, who is a junior black belt, said, "Winning the silver medal was amazing, I'm going for the gold next year."
Healey has been involved in teakwondo for a little more than two years at U.S. Taekwondo. She trains four to five times per week, but because of time she took off to play field hockey at school, she has not yet tested for her black belt. That will change next month.
Healey says she will test for her black belt Aug. 13. She would also like to test for a World Taekwondo Federation black belt, which is recognized across the world. "I'm nervous, but I think I'll be fine," Healey said.
Healey says that going to nationals was amazing.
"It was a life changing experience for me," Healey said. "I learned the value of money."
As for the future, Healey says she will continue to train in taekwondo. It's her favorite sport and it also has had other benefits. "I have definitely grown as a person, matured through taekwondo," Healey said. Healey says she wants to study in the medical field and hopes to get into Johns Hopkins University. Healey also pointed out York College.
Healey also noted her respect and admiration for Master Jennifer Chang and Master C.J. Chang. Their support and encouragement were key to Healey's success.