V-Force Karate Set to Compete in National Competition and Team USA Trials

Nick Hartman


Nick Hartman


May 23, 2024

V-Force Karate Set to Compete in National Competition and Team USA Trials

Being the top athlete or team in the country is a rare opportunity; ten local athletes will have the chance to compete for that opportunity this July in Lafayette, Louisiana at the 2024 Karate National Championships & Team Trials.

V-Force Karate is a competition karate team based out of Vanatta’s Martial Arts in White House. The competition karate team comprises younger and older students ranging from 9 to 17 year old and a couple of young adults. Each team member is a proud representative of Robertson and Sumner Counties and has been hard preparing for their ultimate competition in July. 

Allie Henry, Olivia and Austin Balding lead the team as the primary trainers and coaches. The Baldings have competed in the Team USA competition with varying success and are committed to seeing their competitors succeed. 

Whether they win or lose, Coach Olivia Balding believes this team has already found triumph through their commitment and training. “This group has worked so hard to get where they are, but no matter their success, we are proud of their growth as young people. We train them to be disciplined, good stewards of their gifts, and have a positive attitude no matter what happens. We remind them that their identity is not in what happens in competition but in who they are as people.” 

Luke Williams (8-9 year, novice)

Competition Karate consists of four categories of experience and challenge: beginner (0 months - 1 year of training), novice (1 year -  2 years training), intermediate (2 years - 4 years training), and advanced (4+ years of training). Don’t be fooled by the categories, as each level is highly competitive, and the opportunity to compete on the national stage means these young people will take on the best of the best from around the United States. 

Those representing V-Force at competition are Rebecca Stout (18-14 year, beginner), Ben Henry (16-17 year, advanced), Lily Shivers (16-17 year, advanced), Sophia Sanchez (16-17 year intermediate), Bo Walton (16-17 year, novice), Kayla Ford (14-15 year, novice), Madison Newberry (14-15 year, novice), Gavin Newberry (12-13 year, novice), Brooklyn Newberry (12-13 year, novice), Eva Walton (12-13 year, novice), Luke Williams (8-9 year, novice). 

Austin Balding, Coach, and Ben Henry (16-17 year, advanced), competing for Gold and Silver in Georgia.

Over the last three months, these local athletes have showcased their skills and potential in regional tournaments in Chattanooga, Memphis, and Georgia. When they head to Louisiana from July 11 to 14, they will all face off against athletes from across the nation for a chance to be the best in the nation. 

Coach Balding says she’s confident in her team's ability to do well. “Every single athlete has the potential to be the best in the country, and we believe that.” 

These young people work 8-10 hours of training at their dojo four days a week while balancing commitments to family, friends, school, work, and church. This is not an easy task, but it has allowed them to learn life skills that will bleed into their schools, workplaces, and homes. 

Ask their parents, pastors, and teachers, and you will hear how their work for competition is helping them grow in incredible ways. 

Jennifer Williams, mom to Luke, and currently serving as the team Staging and Logistic Coach, has a unique perspective. “These kids are gaining confidence and being reminded never to give up. While this is an individual sport, they are learning to support one another, practice sportsmanship, and grow in maturity together. As a mom, I see how these coaches are focusing on the right things, it is not about the medals, it is about the experience they can gain to be better men and women.”

V-Force is hosting several fundraisers to help offset the team's travel costs. Their next fundraiser is a Memorial Day Bake Sale on May 25 from 10-1. You can also follow their Facebook page to stay up to date on everything they are doing. 

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