Bay Area Proud

Bay Area Proud

Inspiring stories of people making a difference

Legendary Coach Trains Blind Athletes To Judo Success

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Willie Cahill is one of the most decorated judo coaches in the history of his sport. He says what he is doing now, though, is the most rewarding thing he has ever done.

    As a young man, Willie Cahill had a good idea what he wanted to do for a career.

    "I wanted to be a football coach," Willie says. "That's what my dream was."

    Turns out Willie was right about the profession, wrong about the sport.

    Judo is the sport Willie ended up coaching. Such a good coach, in fact, Willie is now considered a legend in the sport.

    Willie got his start as a coach when he was forced to take over his father's dojo after his death in the early 1960's. In 1963 Willie opened the Cahill Judo Academy on San Mateo Avenue in San Bruno.

    Over the following fifty years Willie coached athletes who have won more than 1,500 national and international championships. He has twice coached the United States Olympic Team. His dojo has won the California State championship fourteen out of the eighteen times it has been held. His place in the sport's history was long ago solidified.

    Willie, however, says his work is not yet done.

    He is focusing his energies now on training blind and visually impaired athletes in the techniques of judo. The close quarters and nearly constant contact between competitors makes judo a good fit for the blind.

    In 2003, Willie co-founded the Blind Judo Foundation to help athletes cover the costs of training for, and traveling to, judo competitions.

    Willie says working with the visually impaired can be harder than working with sighted athletes, but the effort and attitude they bring to the endeavor more than makes up for it.