The South County
Kids of Summer mer ' 22
by Mike Sanchez
After a two-year time-out , limited social interaction , and the end of most recreational activities in public , we celebrate the “ Kids of Summer ” for all the incredible things they do , and for the amazing kids they are .
Throughout our south valley region , these kids are making their mark in the arts , in dance , in music , in sports , and so much more . From flag football to basketball , from martial arts to ballet , from tap dance to horns and music . We should all be proud of these kids for showing up , putting in the time and reps , and giving it their all when it ’ s their time to shine . Here and on the cover we are proud to highlight just a few of these great kids .
Olivia Sandoval is the real deal . Her joyful smile and a gentle disposition put you at ease , and her ability to skillfully handle opponents on the mat is impressive to say the least . Olivia , 9 , has been outscoring the competition since she started in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu ( BJJ ) at the age of 5 . The soon-tobe fourth grader has studied Martial Arts for four years and currently trains with Coach Jerry Cazarez in Gilroy . In 2018 Olivia won double gold honors at the US Open BJJ Tournament at Independence High School in San Jose .
Blake Haygood ( main image and inset ) hails from Gilroy . He is a ten-year old wrestler , representing the fourth generation of grapplers in his family . He lives with mom Vanessa , and dad Chad – a former CCS and State ranked wrestler from Gilroy High School , sister , Zaniah ( 16 ), and brother , Jayden ( 14 ). Blake is currently in his third year of wrestling under the tutelage of two-time Olympian and UFC Champion Daniel Cormier at the Daniel Cormier Wrestling Academy in Gilroy . Earlier this year , Blake competed in the California State USA Wrestling Tournament in Fresno , placing 2nd .
Blake loves wrestling because of the great friendships he has made along the way . He shared that competing at tournaments is his favorite part of the sport . His goal for the 2023 season is to take 1st place at the California State USA Wrestling Tournament .
Blake stays busy in sports . He also attends Antdawgs MMA ( Mixed Martial Arts ) where he trains in Jiu Jitsu and kickboxing . Blake ’ s favorite things to do outside of sports is camping and riding his dirt bike . In August he is heading into the fifth grade at Rod Kelley elementary school .
Mom Claudia noted that Olivia loves Jiu-Jitsu because of all the friends she ’ s made . Dad Lorenzo shares that for Olivia , it ’ s her friends and coaches that make the sport fun . She recently received her third stripe as a grey belt . Obtaining her yellow belt is her next goal .
Through Jiu-Jitsu Olivia has learned that it takes hard work and dedication to reach her goals – whether on or off the mat , and that reaching goals is key to advance in sports and in life . She has also learned how to respect herself and others . Sister Isabella ( Bella ), 13 , also studies Jiu-Jitsu , making Martial Arts a family affair .
In addition to Jiu-Jitsu , Olivia loves drawing , playing flag football , soccer , and swimming . ( continued )
SUMMER 2022 gmhTODAY Magazine gmhtoday . com