“There’s nothing like hitting something or kicking something to release stress.”

That’s how Katherine Coleman, GB’16, describes her recent foray into the world of kickboxing.

“It’s empowering, and it’s challenging both physically and mentally,” Coleman said.

In January of 2012, when Coleman was living in Columbus, Georgia, before The Richmond MBA was on her radar, she joined a kickboxing club.

“It was a little intimidating to start— it’s a male dominated sport,” Coleman said, “but I always like challenging opportunities.”

Then, after five years of training, she decided to compete.

But in June of 2017, she got knocked down harder than she ever thought possible.

“My father passed away a few weeks before the fight,” Coleman said.

With that emotional blow, she thought she wouldn’t be able to compete. After a lot of contemplation, she realized what her father would say to her if he were still alive. 

“I had told my Dad about the fight, and he was excited for me. ‘You better watch out she’s a kickboxer,’ he used to tell the nurses,” Coleman said. “I know if this was Dad he wouldn’t let this stop him, he wouldn’t let this get in the way, so I have to do it.”

Only a few weeks after his death, she put her gloves back on, and fought in her first kickboxing competition.

“They talk about fight or flight, that innate feeling, and when you’re stuck in a ring, flight isn’t an option,” Coleman said. “It was simply hit or be hit.”

Her coaches said she fought well, winning two out of the three rounds. But Coleman says while she was in the ring, she only had one thing on her mind: her dad.

“He was tenacious. I channeled his strength and his energy in that situation,” Coleman said. “He always pushed through, and just remembering that as I went about it, just channeling his energy and his spirit, I pushed through.” 

Coleman says the tenacity and drive she learned from her father, and from kickboxing, help define how she approaches her professional life. 

“The dedication, the focus, really comes into play,” Coleman said.

She trained for kickboxing matches between classes at The Richmond MBA from 2014-2017, and says it formed her and prepared her for her current job at Tridium.

“You have to be able to work on a team, but your individual performance matters,” Coleman said. “If you’re not putting in the hours on your own, your performance in the competition won’t be at its maximum potential. The sport teaches you so many things.”

And though she misses her father, she says she knows how he would feel if he was still here.

“He would be proud of me,” Coleman said.

Coleman works as a project control specialist focusing on finance at Tridium in Richmond.