March's Athletes of the Month are siblings Ashley Sherman, 13, and Brandon "B.J." Sherman, 10. These San Fernando Valley martial artists were recommended by their grandfather, Eli Sherman, founder of the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and physical education director at the West Valley JCC.
Ashley was born with a karate belt in one hand and a crown in the other. Barely 1 year old, Ashley was already raking in beauty contest wins. She started Tang So Doo karate at 9, achieved first-degree black belt status three years later and was second-degree two years after that.
Ashley is as talented a student as she is an athlete. Elected Castlebay Lane Elementary student body president in October 1997, Ashley was the first seventh-grader to become a student representative to the Parent Teacher Student Association at Nobel Middle School.
Brandon also enjoys karate, but he prefers basketball to beauty contests. Brandon started Tang So Doo as a white belt at 4, was a first-degree black belt by 8 and second-degree one year later. (To date, Brandon and Ashley are the youngest sibling team to achieve such ranks.)
Brandon began playing basketball for a pee wee league in November 1998. Last year, he was part of a Castlebay Lane Elementary all-city win and was voted Outstanding Player after helping to lead the West Valley JCC basketball team to the championship. Brandon also served as president of his fourth- and fifth-grade classes.
Look for these young stars to grace the Maccabi Games and the karate world in the near future.