Shining Star: Troy Fernandez

Troy Fernandez is carrying on the legacy of Master Clarence West, who tragically passed away in a fire at his Weirton karate studio in 2008. He says West is the reason he does what he does.

This Shining Star is a former karate student turned teacher.

Troy Fernandez is carrying on the legacy of Master Clarence West, who tragically passed away in a fire at his Wintersville karate studio in 2008.

Fernandez is celebrating 20 years in martial arts this year.

“He's my why, as to why I do things,” Fernandez said of West. “And that's pretty much what wakes me up today to get my hustle on and make sure I get here to be here for my students.”

Fernandez started taking karate from West at the age of 11. Years later, he couldn't have imagined being the one leading the program.

“Two or 3 weeks before the tragedy happened, Mr. West was just getting on me about teaching more, and being more a part of the school,” Fernandez said. “I never really wanted the responsibility, because at the time, I was in college, pursuing a business degree at West Liberty.”

Fernandez puts that business degree to use, working 40 hours a week as an account manager.

But 4 nights a week, he still finds time to carry on the legacy.

Instilling in others, what West instilled in him through the karate creed.

“How to stay positive, how to humble themselves and continue to work hard,” Fernandez said. “I always tell them when they enter the dojo, give me 110 percent; when you leave the dojo give 110 percent. I try to teach them to be good individuals, not just good athletes.”

“To respect other people, and if someone is getting attacked on the street, like say she was getting attacked, and I was near her, I could come out and go help her and we could call police,” student Bethany Berry said.

“He teaches us a lot of things,” student Brooklyn Withers said. “And, um, he cares about us.”

“It's been a very humbling experience, just seeing the progression of students, and seeing how many lives I've touched just through teaching this system,” Fernandez said.

Fernandez is making a difference in his students both on and off the mat.

George Fonseca is taking notice of the changes in his grandson.

“I think he's grown up,” Fernandez said, “He's grown up he's been doing this since 2011 and he's becoming a great young man.”

“They're my heart,” Fernandez said. “Everything I do, I pretty much do for them.”

This week's Shining Star is taking a stance for his students.

If West were here today

“I would hope he would walk in with a big smile on his face, and just say, ‘good job’ and tell everyone how much he appreciates them for carrying on his legacy,” Fernandez said.

If you know someone, making an impact in your community, nominate your shining star here.

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