About Us

Robert Irvin

Robb IrvinRobert Irvin has a lifetime of experience in martial arts. He holds a fifth degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, a Dan rank in Judo and second degree Black Belt in Kung Fu. Mr. Irvin is the Owner, Head Instructor and Coach of Team Players Taekwondo Center in Hilliard, Ohio. Mr. Irvin began his journey of dedication and commitment to excel as a young child who had an interest in martial arts and sports in general. He overcame many obstacles along the way, eventually earning the Ohio State, Wrestling Championship. In 1980, 1981 and 1982 he was chosen to represent the Sunshine Recreation Center of Columbus, in the Silver Gloves Tournament, one of the most distinguished junior amateur boxing competition in the country, second only to the Golden Gloves.

As Mr. Irvin progressed into adulthood it became important for him to continue to strive for excellence by setting his goals high and surrounding himself with those who could help him succeed. As a young adult, with a goal of making the U. S. Olympic Team, Mr. Irvin began traveling the world, training and competing with elite Taekwondo athletes. In 1997, he was invited to train at the KAR Spanish National Taekwondo Training Center in Barcelona, Spain. While there he sparred and trained with the members of the Cuban National Team, the French National Team and the Spanish National Team, one of the premiere teams in the world today and, in 1997, considered to be the top team in the sport.

In 1998, Mr. Irvin spent 6 weeks training at Yong In University just outside Seoul, Korea. The sport of Taekwondo originated in Korea and this is still where the best of the best go to train and learn the latest competition techniques. He is only one of a handful of American Taekwondo athletes that have ever been invited to participate in this grueling program and only one of three Americans who have successfully completed the program. As a result of Mr. Irvin's relentless pursuit to succeed and overcome, he earned the respect of the Korean Masters and athletes. This, in turn, earned him an opportunity to teach a 3-week Combat Martial Arts Exercise Class, a virtuous honor never before, and never again, bestowed to any American. Mr. Irvin's tenacity also caught the attention of Dr. Jin Bang Yang, Head Instructor of the Martial Arts Department at Yong In University and the two quickly formed a friendship they continue to maintain today.

When he returned to the United States, Mr. Irvin was widely known and respected throughout the worldwide Taekwondo community, earning him an invitation, by Coach Hon Won Lee, to train with the U. S. Olympic Team at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2000 and 2001.

During his years of training and competition Mr. Irvin procured a vast collection of rewards, medals and trophies. But more important to him are the friendships he formed and continues to sustain. One such friendship was formed when the spirit of a virtually unknown team from Sugarland, Texas struck Mr. Irvin and he befriended the team and the coach. This was a predominately Latin Team competing in a Korean sport in America. The odds were definitely not in their favor. But this spirited team who called themselves Elite Taekwondo, and their coach, Jean Lopez, had a dream. And to despite the odds they have become the strongest force in the Taekwondo world today, earnestly earning their name. In the year 2000, when Taekwondo became an Olympic Sport for the first time, Jean Lopez coached his brother Steven Lopez to a Gold Medal for the United States. Since that time they modestly boast 6 United States Team Members and a vast number of World Champions. Most recently, Jean Lopez, nominated by his brother Steven, received the "International Rings of Gold" award, the highest coaching award available. This team remains on the cutting edge of Taekwondo, concentrating on developing a new breed of athletes. The significant friendship founded by Mr. Irvin's belief in the Lopez family and the members of Elite Taekwondo, has formed a bond that continues steadfast today. As a tribute to their friendship, Jean and Steven Lopez, chose to hold their first ever training seminar, after winning the Olympic Gold Medal, at Team Players Taekwondo Center. While very few people have ever been invited to train with Elite Taekwondo, Mr. Irvin hold's an open invitation, and has on several occasions, done so.

Although, Mr. Irvin never realized his goal of becoming an Olympic Team Member due to a serious medical condition involving his kidneys, Mr. Irvin did not give up. With an already successful school, and many years of teaching and coaching experience, he simply re-directed his goal and turned his efforts toward the development and training of his students. With his new goal in place, Mr. Irvin continued to educate himself, believing that a true teacher must continue to learn or be doomed to run out of information to teach. As a result he has trained with the Strength and Fitness Coach from Texas A and M, the Sports Physiatrist at the USTU Olympic Training Center and has access to elite strength and fitness programs from all over the U. S.

Before implementing an Olympic Weight Training program, which Mr. Irvin felt would better serve his athletes; he sought out and trained with the most renowned power lifter in the world, Mr. Lou Simmons of Westside Barbell.

In 1999, Mr. Irvin was the 84th American to successfully achieve his Level 3 Coaching Certification. This certification signifies that the recipient has gained sufficient knowledge to develop their athletes in areas such as strength/fitness, elite Olympic Taekwondo, sports psychology, nutrition, mythology and periodization.

Mr. Irvin has coached a large number of his students to State and National championship status, worked with law enforcement, amateur and professional athletes, NFL players, and College football players. With such a peerless record, Mr. Irvin remains humble, believing that his rank and personal achievements are important only when they are able to help others. And, what he finds most rewarding is the day-to-day interactions he shares with his students, considering this his highest honor.

Mr. Irvin is a unique individual and his effervescent personality cannot be captured in words. Whether he is teaching a class, boasting about his students or demonstrating a weapon, when you meet Mr. Irvin for the first time you will be struck by his unrivaled enthusiasm. Those who have the opportunity to train with him can attest to productivity he evokes through his vivacious approach to teaching.

Lori Hicks

Lori HicksProgram Director and Administrator

Lori A. Hicks is the Program Director and Administrator for Team Players Taekwondo Center. Her background is in Accounting and Real Estate Management through Columbus Technical Institute. Lori also has over 20 years of experience as a Property Manager for the Ann A. Miller Company. Lori has 2 sons who have been involved in Olympic Taekwondo for over 8 years. Her oldest son, who is now 13, is currently one of the youngest 3rd Degree Black Belts in the world today. Both boys have been a part of Team Players since the day it opened and prior to that, worked with Robert Irvin when he instructed for Hilliard Taekwondo Center. Because of her children's involvement, Lori has gained a vast knowledge for the sport, the athletes, the instructors, the center and the program. Lori's genuine passion for the program and the sport coupled with the perspective she brings as a mother, makes her uniquely qualified for her position.