When Kylee Somerville’s parents asked if she wanted to try kickboxing three years ago, she was confused.
“She said, ‘What’s kickboxing? You kick a box?” father Jesse Somerville recalled with a laugh.
Today, the 10-year-old is dominating her weight class and last month won a provincial championship, defeating an Oshawa fighter on points in a three-round bout. She is 3-0 in her first year of competition.
“It was scary at the start, and then when you got into the ring, when people are like, cheering for you, you couldn’t really hear anything. It was really cool,” said Somerville, catching her breath between drills at her home gym, Corunna Training Academy.
“It felt like people we were under water and all you could hear was your coach.”
Coach Craig McDonald said Kylee’s strengths are speed and focus. She takes direction well and maintains her calm during matches, he said.
It’s her spectating parents who need to work on staying calm, Kylee said.
“When I watched the video they were shaking,” she said, to which her father sheepishly agreed.
“It is fun to watch — after,” he said.
McDonald said knockouts aren’t seen in bouts involving young fighters like Kylee. Speed and mobility are taught over brute force, and only as fighters mature are power and strength added, he said.
“She has really good movement for a girl her age. It’s actually a lot harder to try and hit fast and a lot, and not hit hard. It’s kind of a talent in itself.”
Somerville and younger sister Jessa are part of an evening kids program at Corunna Training Academy, which sees about 18 young fighters training on any given weeknight.
McDonald is one of four coaches who teach at the facility, which was converted from a church last year. The academy also offers adult classes and hosts an affiliated weight-training club.
Jesse Somerville credits some of his daughter’s success to the strength of the community at the gym.
“You think it’s just one person, but it’s the whole team getting that one person ready,” he said.