A unique educational opportunity for juvenile MMA enthusiasts comes to the Houston area
As the days get longer and the temperature rises into the triple digits, it’s apparent that summer is here. The last thing on our kid’s minds is school, but here’s a reason to get them pumped about going back this fall.
High School for the Mixed Martial Arts is a fully accredited college preparatory program that provides an alternative educational setting for driven and talented student athletes from 8th to 11th grades. HSMMA is designed for students who are focused on MMA training and academics. HSMMA aspires to increase the graduation rate in the community and provide students with tools to build a future in the MMA industry. Through its co-ed programs, mentorships, and coaches, HSMMA seeks to empower a growing number of young women to achieve careers in MMA. Student competitors at HSMMA will also have the unique opportunity to show school spirit and represent HSMMA at tournaments throughout the USA. Most recently, HSMMA has been approved as a non-profit allowing them to obtain and provide scholarship opportunities for those in need.
It is no surprise that Angie Maxey, from the Regan High BJJ Club, is the creator of HSMMA. After Maxey saw the impact the BJJ club had on students at Regan High, Maxey was inspired to combine her experience as both an educator and martial artist into something that has never been done before, a High school for MMA. Maxey knew that a team of strong coaches would be crucial to the HSMMA program, so she turned to black belt Travis Tooke to help launch HSMMA.
Interview with Angie Maxey, HSMMA Educational Coordinator and Founder
What inspired High School of the Mixed Martial Arts? Where did this idea come from?
The success of my high school BJJ clubs has definitely been an inspiration—I see how teens can benefit from the lessons in discipline and problem solving that come with training in the martial arts. Most recently I have been working as an educational consultant with Harris County and have been approached by many parents looking for alternatives to the traditional ISD campuses and my research led me to a few private school programs that I found to be effective. I immediately began working on a model for incorporating the curriculum into a training schedule and could not be more excited about the plan.
What are your goals and objectives with HSMMA?
Our current goal is to increase the awareness of HSMMA in the community and offer an alternative educational plan for student athletes that are just as focused on academics as they are on training and competing. We hope to develop positive relationships in the MMA community for the advancement of the program and the student athletes participating.
What would a typical day or week be like for a HSMMA student?
The basic daily schedule will look like this . . .
8AM – 11AM- 4 academic class periods
11AM – 12:00PM- Technical Class
12PM – 12:30PM- Lunch
12:30PM – 1:15PM-Study Hall
1:15PM – 2PM-on-campus free time for conditioning, drilling with teammates, work out in weight room, or additional study hall, if needed.
2PM – 3PM- Technical Class and Sparring/Drilling
3PM – 4PM mental/physical conditioning session
Technical classes will be dependent on each student’s athletic plan and will include a rolling schedule of training in the following disciplines: BJJ, no-gi submission grappling, muay Thai, boxing, wrestling, fitness/conditioning, judo, and mma.
The Friday schedule will change on a weekly basis to accommodate field trips, guest coaches, and guest speakers.
Competition schedules will be accommodated by the flexible curriculum plan and teachers will even travel with students competing in school-sponsored tournaments.
In addition to receiving a diploma upon graduation, what other skills and training will the students leave with?
When students complete the coursework they will receive a diploma from a nationally accredited private school that can transfer to any college nationally or internationally. The academic advisors will often meet with students for one-on-one counseling sessions to determine which school is right for them and prepare for college entrance exams. College tours will be incorporated into competition travel plans to expose student to the different options that will be available after high school. In addition to the standard curriculum and electives required by the state, each HSMMA student will complete an instructor training program and an entrepreneurship intern program.
We are also excited to offer career-building courses for students interested in the MMA industry beyond competition. We have incorporated entrepreneurship courses and would like to partner with local business owners representing promotions, apparel, equipment, marketing, graphic design, journalism, sports management and other parts of the industry. Our customizable academic plans identify student interests and the resources available in the growing Texas MMA community will allow us to reach out locally to provide mentorship and internship opportunities for our students whether their goal is to someday compete professionally, open their own training facility, or design their own apparel.
Interview with Athletics Director Travis Tooke
When Angie approached you about the idea of HSMMA what was your initial reaction? Was this something that you had ever considered doing before?
My initial reaction was “this is the coolest idea ever and I would have loved to have something like this available when I was in high school!” I had never really considered the idea before because I didn’t know it was a possibility. I think it is an amazing opportunity for young athletes to get a great education while pursuing their passion.
You have an extensive background as a BJJ competitor, instructor and coach in addition to experience in MMA, Judo and Wrestling. You’ve been a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu instructor for seven years for both kids and adults. What type of experience do you have working with high school students and teaching teens MMA?
A large percentage of our student base is teenagers so I have spent the last 7 years working with them. I really enjoy working with this particular group of students because they are at an age where they have to start making real life decisions. I believe that our Program gives them the confidence to pursue their dreams with passion and discipline. Plus, although I keep learning, I’m pretty sure I stopped maturing at about age 17. So I guess I can relate to this group pretty well.
What will the average HSMMA student expect on a weekly basis during MMA training? What forms of Martial Arts will the students practice?
Students will learn a variety of Martial Arts. Our program currently consists of Brazilian Jiu jitsu, Muay Thai, Judo and Boxing with elements of both Self Defense and Competition integrated into every class. However, we are very into the Team Culture and the importance of dedication, hard work and persistence. An average HSMMA student can expect to learn the value of teamwork and goal setting in addition to world class Martial Arts skills.
Are the MMA classes universally structured for all students or is training tailored specifically for each student’s needs and goals?
Although many students with different goals will train together, the program is designed in a way that students will be able to pursue his/her goals on an individual basis. Each student will have the opportunity to train according to his/her goals within our program.
Do you think that MMA has potential to become a University Interscholastic League (UIL)high school sport? If so, should any additional safety precautions and restrictions (i.e. age) outside of normal protocol be implemented because they are minors?
Absolutely, I believe that MMA shares all the same positive qualities that other UIL high school sports have and offers many components that high school sports do not offer. Of course, just as in football and other contact sports the proper safety precautions must be implemented. Safety gear, proper fitness preparation and supervised regulated training protocol are all part of the program. However, it should be noted that MMA training (when taught properly) is very safe and injuries are less common than most high school sports.
As Athletics Director for HSMMA, what are your goals for the program? What do you hope the students walk away with upon graduation?
My ultimate goal is to help build future role models and leaders within our community. I know that may sound cliche but I really believe that Martial Arts can transform a person’s life and help them see their full potential as a human being. Although we train very hard and have produced several high quality competitors (and even a UFC fighter), our competition goals are secondary to our goals of helping students become outstanding citizens. Upon graduation it is my hope that students will walk away with the tools and confidence necessary to become the person they dream they can be.