By James Kelly
March 24, 2014
Coach John Wilbert gazed at the 11 medals his P.E.I. judo team won in multiple Canada Games.
Little did he know his skills in teaching judo that helped his students earn their medals would not be his only reward.
Wilbert left Germany in 1959 to travel to Canada. He arrived in Calgary and stayed there for several years before moving to P.E.I. in 1974.
Wilbert stepped onto the red soil and smiled.
As soon he arrived here, he started teaching judo. He began teaching his club, Island judo, at UPEI and the military base in Summerside. These clubs consisted of very small groups.
Wilbert started to influence many others to join his club and start clubs of their own. His club became much more popular and eventually he moved his location to the YMCA.
During a recent Charlottetown council meeting, Coun. Melissa Hilton announced Wilbert would be given the volunteer of the month award. She said he deserves it.
“He deserves this award so much for all of his hard work and effort towards the community.”
Hilton recalled the first time seeing Wilbert instruct his class.
“I remember years ago walking into the YMCA when John was teaching his class. He was miraculous. He was so immersed in the movements and anyone could spot how much passion he had for the sport.”
Wilbert said he is proud and honoured to receive this award.
“I love my club and I love teaching. When I first moved to P.E.I. and my club became very successful, I knew I was doing the right thing. I’m glad I can give what I can to the community.”
Wilbert’s teams have won 11 medals over the 30 years he has been instructing as a sensei. He said he is happy to be a part of the Prince Edward Island community and hopes to continue teaching for a long time.