By Mike Strasser, U.S. Military Academy Public AffairsFebruary 13, 2013
WEST POINT, N.Y. (Feb. 13, 2013) -- There's really no way to ignore the fact that a snowstorm made a mess of the inaugural West Point Women's Boxing Invitational Feb. 9.
The storm was to blame for creating Code Red conditions at West Point, thus eliminating the first of what was billed as a two-day event.
It also caused a significant number of boxers registered to miss the invitational, and for the 90-minute delay Saturday, while coaches scrambled to create a bout card with those who were available to fight.
None of this seemed to matter, though, to the audience assembled at the North End Boxing Room, eager to see women's boxing at West Point.
Class of 2013 Cadet Giovanna Camacho, the team captain, even apologized for the late start and promised that a good performance would reward their patience.
"Don't worry about it," one audience member, a parent perhaps, said reassuringly. Along with a number of cadets and officers in attendance were quite a few family members and friends who made the trip into the recently plowed installation.
Once the boxing began, a dozen bouts delivered on that promise for an exciting and competitive invitational.
Class of 2014 Cadet Jocelyn Lewis provoked the first collective gasp from the audience when she landed a fierce punch that staggered her opponent from the University of San Francisco.
"That was my first fight ever," Lewis said. "I was really nervous at first because I heard my opponent had some experience. After I settled down I had a lot of fun."
Lewis expected her mind to be filled with instructions while she fought but that didn't happen.
"I was trying to think of the fundamentals, but there were no thoughts going through my head," Lewis said. "It was completely quiet and I was focused."
Also fighting her first bout was Class of 2014 Cadet Erin Kocher, who faced fellow club member Class of 2016 Ivellisse Velez-Morey. Fighting a colleague didn't diminish the intensity of the fight.
"If nothing else, we showed a lot of endurance," Kocher said. "By the third round, that's when I know I'm at my strongest. We train so much on the bags that I know I can hit for three sets of two minutes with no problem. I can keep going."
Coach Jackie Atkins paid attention to Kocher's opponent, one of the newest members of the club.
"She led with that power hand and her punches were so straight," Atkins said. "She placed every single punch and she's very green. That impressed me."
Atkins was also impressed by the all-around team effort going into the invitational.
"I was so proud to see them get in there and execute like we've been doing all along in training," Atkins said.
Class of 2014 Cadet Austen Boroff has boxed previously at the Brigade Boxing Open, but said the experience of this invitational was entirely different.
"I had no idea who I was fighting until I got into the ring," Boroff said. "It was good, though, I had to keep her off me with the jab and use my reach."
She said boxing in front of her family, Company E-1 colleagues, tactical officer and noncommissioned office, provided extra encouragement.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Boroff said.
The club's motto, "Get Hit, Move Forward," seemed even more appropriate considering the pummeling West Point got from the storm.
"When we heard the weather reports, we said, 'OK, we're cadets, we have determination and we can do this.' We figured as long as we stayed focused and we kept the gym open there would be an invitational and people would show up," Kocher said.
The club's ability to recover and move forward with the invitational demonstrated the tenacity of both cadets and coaches.
"We ended up with a lot of really good fights," Kocher said. "I was impressed. The coaches did an incredible job of matching boxers evenly with those time constraints."
If the club was able to execute its first home invitational under the worst possible conditions, Coach Jackie Atkins said, it will serve as a preamble for better events in the future.
"The ladies did a phenomenal job," Atkins said. They dealt with a lot of challenges and so compared to this one, the next will be a piece of cake."