Villa senior Maria Daly earned her Isshinryu Black Belt on January 16, 2015. Daly’s black belt was the first one awarded by the Darlington Arts Center’s Isshinryu Karate Program, which began in 2001. A student of Sensei Jane Freemas, Maria started training at the Darlington Dojo at age five. Maria was honored to have Sensei Freemas’s pass her first black belt down to her.
Maria’s achievements in karate extend beyond her black belt. She competed at the Isshinryu Hall of Fame National Tournament in 2011 and 2013, placing both in Kata (forms) and Kumite (fighting) in her division. She was an Isshinryu Hall of Fame Finalist for Young Female Karate-ka in 2013 and 2011, chosen for outstanding contributions to Isshinryu and their community. She also is an Isshinryu Mentor for younger karate students. In 2014, Maria performed with the TOKI Demo Team at the Please Touch Museum for a benefit for children with cancer.
Maria, a former ballet dancer and student of Darlington Arts, FSBT and Joffrey Ballet Company, will continue her connection with younger students as a co-teacher the karate program at Darlington Arts Center.