Unordinary Sports: Megan Hopkins Earns Black Belt in Karate

Megan receives her black belt during a recognition dinner with her peers and her sensei.

Karate is a sport many people only have some basic knowledge of from pop culture. This isn’t the case for sophomore black belt Megan Hopkins, who has spent half of her life pursuing her karate career.

Megan has been learning karate at Go No Sen Karate in Peekskill, New York for the past nine years. She was introduced to Go No Sen as an after-school program. From there, she switched over to the main dojo and has been practicing there since fourth grade. Megan is exempt from sports teams all three seasons at Hackley and it has allowed her to practice one to three hours a day per week and participate in tournaments and competitions regularly.

One of Megan’s biggest achievements in her career has been earning her black belt.

“Receiving my black belt was a big goal for me and a time commitment that took eight years,” Megan said.

A black belt is one of the highest honors a person can achieve in karate. Megan, at only 15 years old with a black belt, is at the level of many adults. To receive this high honor she had to pass a major assessment, which included presenting skills she trained arduously over the years. Megan said it was a “really fun process” overall and that she is “excited to further her experience teaching and learning the art of karate.”

One of her favorite parts of karate is teaching aspiring kids at her dojo. Megan has a paid position where she teaches for three hours, three days a week. Teaching kids is one of her favorite things to do because she “personally enjoyed the process of learning karate a lot,” so Megan wants to make sure to “give the best experience to kids learning karate in the same way [she] had.”

Despite her love for the sport, Megan expressed that doing an unconventional sport at Hackley has been difficult at times given the environment.

“A lot of Hackley culture is about sports teams, traditions, games, and going to Sting events. “I did feel left out in some ways…. I have in the past felt really pressured to juggle Hackley sports and karate but I’ve learned that karate is what really makes me happy so I try to focus on that,” she says.

Regardless of any obstacles that have come in the way of Megan pursuing her sport while attending Hackley, she has persevered and taught the community more about one of the many sports that are typically under the radar.