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Remembering Our Students - A Tribute
Rachel Sanfilippo Transcribed from an audio recording of Master Calasanz:

As a trainer I have trained many many girls, many men, many children, many young athletes, older people. I have never trained someone even close to the skill that Rachel Sanfilippo demonstrates.

Yet with her skill there are minuses and pluses as with anyone else. The minus was the focus. When I was training her and before I trained her I was made to understand that she was a good, a very good, and excellent gymnast. Given that, and that she got burnt out it was understandable how it was hard for her to focus 100% on other sports. Especially kick boxing like she was doing.

I would do anything to have the chance to make her one of the best kick boxers. She is so naturally beautiful, and so powerful. She has everything. She has it all over there. I wouldn't have her fight if she didn't want to. I would have loved to take her to the top even if she didn't compete. Rachel, being a Junior Olympian, breaking records all over the place… She could do anything when she puts her mind to it.

She would do things that I never saw girls capable of before. I would put her to do some of our exercises, just to see her doing them it was amazing. Just to see her doing some of the exercises that we do, one that we call super split. The minute I start putting more than 20 pounds on my legs when I do this exercise I support myself and go slowly to make sure I don't get hurt. She would take 20 or 30 pounds, strap it on her legs, open the legs, close, open the legs… like it was nothing. Amazing.

This lady was so strong, so muscular it was unbelievable. She had good muscle all in the right place but unfortunately I can't say that I ever had her going 100%. She would be ready one day with a lot of energy, ready to do the incredible but the next day she would be at her worst. There was no consistency at all. That is sometimes frustrating for her, and at the same time frustrating for me, I wanted to do so much. I just believe that I could have put her to do some of the best exciting movements and exercises so beautifully and perfectly to bring her to another level, but I never had that opportunity to really really see in her that consistency of really getting there and doing it.

She would come over here at all hours. She would come over here sometimes 11 o'clock, 12 o'clock. I mean she could just train at any time. Early morning, very late, 2 hours, 3 hours. She could go for 3 hours kicking, she could kick for 3 hours. In the video we show, the axe kick, that day she was doing it at about 20% of the ability she is capable of. When she throws a round kick at full speed it is just incredible. High. Strong. Its just the most perfect kick you can see. When she does an inside out or outside in axe kick. She makes the perfect motion, going straight into the skull of the person, or to the ground. Just perfect. But again, we get back to her lack of consistency. The times when we needed her to do the kick, she couldn't perform or wouldn't perform. At that point she hadn't registered in her mind that she wanted to be a world class martial artist and that she could be so good at it. I would have loved to get more footage of her so she could do something with it, to see and to become the amazing person that she is. She was great, and she is great.

I really do not know what she is doing today, if she continued with kick boxing but really she is just incredible. But then understand, being incredible when you are a gymnast from childhood is not that hard. They already have so much flexibility and are very strong from their gymnastics training. I know gymnasts and they are some of the most fit and most coordinated people that I've ever trained. They have it all.

The thing is I learned so much from Rachel Sanfilippo that it is even hard to believe what this girl is capable of doing. I know 100% that she is a great student and a great person. When she makes a mistake she knows it and corrects it. She is great. She is a very logical person and she is going to go far, I have no doubt about that. But I would have loved that I would have gotten more out of her when it comes to kickboxing and boxing.

She is not a person I would suggest to anyone to make her angry. She can get a temper and she has all the tools to be a deadly and fierce fighter, besides she is very, very smart. She can kick!

Unfortunately she got burnt out as a gymnast, traveling, and enduring a lot of pressure.

Rachel had support.. tremendous support from her family and her father. But when you start to do gymnastics with the purpose of going to the Olympics that is a lot of pressure on her and her parents. No matter who you are, there is going to be a lot of pressure, especially if you are training to be an Olympian, especially in gymnastics.

She would call me, “I am not coming.” But then she would call back at 11 o'clock at night and ask “Calasanz, will you teach me now.” But the thing that impressed me the most was the ankle weights, oh my god. She would take the ankle weights, up and down back and forth like there was no weight. She just has muscle that flows well. Her muscle was so unique, she was a gymnast, everything flowed, everything was soft, I have never seen someone with muscle so unique. .. Someone like her you can not miss her when you see her. What a great person with such a wonderful character. She would bring bags and bags for me to send to the Dominican for the charity my sister runs down there, in fact I think I still owe her a small debt!

She loved kick boxing and she could be the best.

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