An introduction and an opportunity, the first of many

By Rachel Robles | Mar 28, 2014
Photo by: Rachel Robles ARMBAR — Chelsea Licht does an armbar to Kevin Williams at Gracie North Carolina. I promise, it's more fun than it looks.

Hello, Haywood County. My name is Rachel Robles and I am the new Lifestyles editor at The Mountaineer. It is my great privilege to serve this community and I am blessed beyond measure to be here.

When I took over for Anne Baker in early January, I hit the ground running, and I have a special event to tell you about.

But first, a confession.

This isn’t the job I originally set out to have.

I had every intention of becoming a high school English teacher when I began as a doe-eyed freshman at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. An introduction to education class brought me to the sudden and harsh realization that my idea of teaching was based solely on the highly romanticized versions of teaching portrayed in such movies as “Dead Poet’s Society” and “Freedom Writers.” My advisor and I decided that teaching college-level English would be more my style.

It was while pursuing a master’s degree at Western Carolina University that I discovered an untold passion — editing. I found a great joy in helping people shape their words, ideas and expressions to create a cohesive, coherent body of work.

And while I adore all of literature — even the parts I don’t like — it is this job to which I have been led that I have found the greatest contentment. It is my great honor to tell the stories of this community and to help preserve the rich, vibrant culture of this area, and I invite you to tell me about your special events, fundraisers and interesting news.

Relay for Life Grapple-thon

During my first week, I was drafted into The Mountaineer Newsies Relay for Life team. When I heard this year’s theme — “Celebrating the Courage to Fight” — a multitude of lightbulbs went off in my head.

I’ve been training jiujitsu with the incredible people at Gracie North Carolina on Branner Avenue since September 2012. This theme was right up their alley. With them in mind and with the generous help of my coach, instructor Armando Basulto, my Relay team and Tuscola High School’s Relay team, I forged the Relay for Life Grapple-thon fundraiser. This will take place Saturday, April 5, in the Tuscola High School gym.

The first part of the grapple-thon is an armbar/takedown-athon, which will take place from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., and it is open to those with martial arts and/or wrestling experience. Even if you can’t participate, come out and watch. I promise it’ll be interesting to watch.

So, what’s an armbar?

An armbar, or armlock, in grappling is a single or double-joint lock that hyper-extends, hyper-flexes or hyper-rotates the elbow joint and/or shoulder joint. I bet you’re thinking, “That doesn’t sound very fun.” And when it’s done in a real-life self-defense situation, it’s not, and that’s the point. But when you’re drilling it for practice, it can be a lot of fun.

For the armbar/takedown-athon, participants will sign up sponsors who pledge to pay a certain dollar amount — anything from 50 cents to $10 — per armbar/takedown done on the day of the event. At the event, participants will have 3 minutes to do as many armbars/takedowns as they can.

For takedowns, participants will take someone to the ground as many times as possible within the time limit. There will be prizes for the three participants who raise the most money and their picture will be in the paper.

There is a $5 registration fee that will need to be paid the day of the event. For more information, or if you’d like a sponsorship sheet, email

The second part of the event is the self-defense seminar, which will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 pm. The seminar will be taught by Basulto and will cover basic self-defense moves. Everyone is invited to participate; all skill (or no skill) levels are welcome. Wear comfortable clothing you can move around in. Free child care will be available during the seminar for children 10 and under.

The cost of the seminar is $10. All participants will be entered into a raffle for a grand prize.

The Tuscola Relay for Life team will sell concessions during the event. All proceeds will go to Relay for Life for cancer research. For more information about the armbar/takedown-athon or the self-defense seminar, call 452-0661, ext. 114, or email

I hadn't planned on spearheading a fundraiser in my first month on the job, but I hope it's the first of many opportunities that I have to serve this community.