A place they can call their own
AMHERST - A dream a long time in the making finally came to fruition last night when the Amherst Shotokan Karate Academy held its first lessons in its new home.
"It's wonderful. It's a 10-year dream that has been finally realized," Janice Pyke said while taking a break from instruction by guest instructor Master Frank Woon-A-Tai of Toronto.
Pyke and her husband, David, purchased the former Wesleyan Church building on Spring Street several months ago and spent a busy November preparing it for the club to occupy.
Pyke said the club has been looking for a permanent home for more than a decade. It had been operating out of the Cumberland YMCA for most of its existence, but felt club members felt it was time to move on.
She's confident the new location, separate from the YMCA, will help shotokan karate grow in Amherst and entice former members back along with welcoming new members.
"This place is so great. We have always wanted mirrors that allows the members, especially the older ones, to correct themselves when training," she said. "A big thing is having a facility we can use when we need to use it and use our own equipment."
The association signed an agreement to purchase its new quarters seven years ago, but financing fell through. Things came together this time when the Wesleyan Church purchased the former Nativity Church and put its old building on the market.
"This came back on the market this summer and the time was right," she said. "Everything just fell into place."
Since taking over the building at the first of November, club members have moved heating vents and installed a new martial arts floor. They also applied a fresh coat of paint and wainscoting.
The club will be holding a grand opening sometime in the next few weeks.