Along with being a dual-enrollment student at Clayton State, Pillatzki is a defensive player for the Lady Lions’ soccer team, which earned a 10-7 record last season, and a successful mixed-martial arts fighter at Smith Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.
“Jiu-jitsu makes me stronger and I can definitely tell I have more power on the soccer field too,” Pillatzki said. “If I get knocked down I can get up faster.”
Now with more than two years of experience in jiu-jitsu, Pillatzki has not just won tournaments but competitions against adults and collected a plethora of medals and swords.
“Mr. [Phillip] Smith helps me a lot,” Pillatzki said. “He is really good at what he does and is a really good coach. He teaches you it’s not all about winning but leaving it all on the mat and having a good time—that helps me a lot.”
“I think it has given her a lot of confidence and a lot of self control,” said Kathy Pillatzki, who is Megan’s mother. “It’s helped her with strategic thinking almost like a chess player. She’s able to do something physically difficult in the moment, while at the same time being able to mentally put herself several steps ahead.”
Megan Pillatzki is currently a blue belt and had a third-place finish at an adult tournament in Riverdale in March.
“I’m really nervous when she competes,” Kathy Pillatzki said. “My heart races. I’m so tired when it’s over you would think I was the one competing because of the adrenaline that flows while watching her. Usually her dad [Dan Pillatzki] and sister will go down ringside. I usually stay in the stands because it is so nerve racking.”
When competing, Pillatzki said her first goal is to get her opponent on the mat as quickly as possibly. She plans to enter Atlanta International Open IBJJF Championship at the Georgia International Convention Center on Aug. 31.
“It’s a really big deal,” Kathy Pillatzki said. “It draws people from all over country.”
During her sophomore year while being taught geography by Smith, Pillatzki began attending his jiu-jitsu classes as well and have been doing so since.
“I like the people and I like that it helps relieve stress,” she said. “I like the support system.”
“I know boys aren’t going to mess with her,” Dan Pillatzki said.