Colin Smith: Masters track star is also a “karate kid”


Megan Hopkins

Sophomore Colin Smith shows off some of his karate skills. He demonstrates his talent and understanding for the art and his love for the sport. Throughout his years at Masters, he has learned to balance his time between school, track and field, and karate. Though he has already achieved a black belt, he is still going through training to receive his second degree black belt.

Lily Zuckerman, Features Editor

While Masters is known for its high-achieving student-athletes and tight-knit sports teams, many Upper School athletes choose to opt out of in-school sports and play outside of school. Although Masters offers a diverse range of unique sports like fencing and squash, there is a limit to athletic spaces, amenities, and expertise among coaches. However, some students have been able to explore sports both in and out of Masters, including sophomore Colin Smith who is both; a two-season varsity athlete and first-degree black belt in karate. 

At Masters, Smith is a part of the Varsity Indoor Track team in the winter and Track and Field in the Spring. He began running in middle school, and decided to continue with it when he switched to Masters in ninth grade. Smith spoke on what it is like to be a part of the track team. 

“It’s an individual sport where you focus on improving your time. But at the same time, you’re always uplifting your teammates and always helping them out if they ever need a hand,” Smith said. 

Smith has track practice every day after school until 5 p.m. Directly after practice, Smith heads to the Dobbs Ferry Train station to start his journey home. Then, on four of those five weekdays, Smith gets off the train in Peekskill, NY, and goes directly to “Go No Sen Karate,”  the dojo where he practices karate. After that, Smith heads home to Mohegan Lake, NY to sleep – then repeat. 

Smith continued, “A sport like track is already challenging by itself. After track practice, I often lay down on the ground due to my exhaustion.” He continued,  “Then I have to pick myself up and I can’t even make the walk down to the train station.” Smith said he has found a discipline in the two sports that motivate him to continue his journey in both. 

Unlike track, which he picked up when he was in seventh grade, Smith has been taking karate classes since he was three years old. Smith was inspired to start karate at this young age by his cousin, Tyler Smith, a third-degree black belt at Go No Sen Karate, who is known to Smith as “Sensai Smith.” His cousin has seen his growth in karate throughout the years. 

Tyler Smith said, “Colin started as a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, small child. I remember vividly when he first started because it was around the time I was testing for my first black belt. He was excited about just donning his uniform and having his belt tied the first time.” He continued, “I believe that he still maintains that same passion and excitement even now as a Black Belt Instructor in training. He has grown to turn this passion into tangible results through constantly striving to be better today than he was yesterday. I would definitely say that he has evolved in this way over the years.” 

Colin Smith’s biggest accomplishment in karate was completing his goal of receiving his first-degree black belt. In June of 2020, after logging 100 hours of practice, taking a written test (with 100 questions), and taking a four-hour practical exam that included memorization of 15 forms, execution of self-defense techniques, demonstration of comprehensive knowledge of weapons, and performance of various takedowns and throws, Colin Smith finally earned his first-degree black belt. 

Currently, Smith is working on his next goal in karate –  his second-degree black belt. He has learned to manage this passion along with his 1.5-hour commute, schoolwork, and track. 

Smith said, “I’ve learned to cut back on some activities and find a balance between everything. I try and get my work done as soon as possible because I know that later in the day that will benefit me. There are times that I know I’ve worked hard in school, karate, and track and I can then give myself time to sit back, relax, chill and hang out with my friends.”