MEET STEVE RITCHEY
A dedicated and passionate man tells his story.
"I got involved in Yesha Ministries back in 1998. I was in a small-group Bible study with David Smith, and my sons were starting to learn Tang Soo Doo at Paks Karate. David said I could learn martial arts less expensively through Yesha Ministries. At the time, the instructor was John Silsby, and there were only three schools at the time- Baldwin, Beaches, and Mandarin. The classes were small- at best, 4 – 8 students. I traveled in sales frequently, so I did not attend every practice but I came when I could.
I like the fact that Yesha is a Christian ministry. I had several students who started after me, pass me by and become back belts (The Spaulding family, David Smith, Greg Olipendo, and others)!
I never was in a hurry to become a black belt... After four years, I finally received my 1st Dan. Right after I got my 1st Dan, David and I met with Pastor Mark at Fruit Cove Baptist Church and we started a class there in 2002. David was the lead instructor since I traveled, it worked out well. After three or four years, David stopped teaching and I took over as lead instructor. We always found a way to put faith in our teaching and promote the church we taught at. I taught there until 2014 and then I was diagnosed with Stage 2 colon cancer. I gave the school to my student, David Trenholm, who was a 2nd Dan at the time- I was a 4th Dan at this time.
I returned to Fruit Cove Baptist, after recovering from surgery, to help teach until David was deployed by the Navy to serve in Virginia. After meeting with my Pastor at Switzerland Community Church, I chose to start a class at my current location. We felt it would be a great ministry at our church. My pastor is a 4th Dan from Paks Karate and was on the USA Olympic team, so he really likes the ministry!
One of the advantages of being an instructor is meeting and shaping students in the community. Nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing students stretch themselves to be better at all they do. I also work out with my students which keeps me somewhat in shape. I am sure it is one of the things that helps me battle cancer.
Some of the highlights of my teaching are when some of my students competed in the AAU Nationals and took a gold medal! But also, seeing my old students do so well in academics. Some of my students went to University of Florida, Georgetown University, and Florida State University, and have graduated with high honors.
I have also taught of the instructors who still teach today, The Timmons, and Dave Trenholm. One of the best highlights of my teaching was having my sons come back after they had their black belts from Paks Karate and join my class!
I mostly am proud of all my students and their accomplishments. I just cannot take credit for all they have done. It just shows the kind of people who are attracted to our ministry. I pray for them constantly- that they will accomplish more for Christ’s kingdom. That is why, at 60-years-old, I am still teaching at Yesha Taekwondo."