Sunday, April 9, 2017

50 Years of Coaching

Last night I attended a banquet for Coach Ron Miller. He is head coach for UNC fencing. It marked his 50th year of coaching. I felt honored to be invited, as this was for his alumni that had fenced on his teams over all these years. My training partner and I had the privilege of being the only "current" students I saw there. It was rather amazing at how many of his former team members that we knew.

There were good stories. There were plans announced. I got to see my friend, Mrs. Coach.  I got to hear Coach speak.

At the end of Coach's speech (It really wasn't a speech, it was a request.) he said, " Go find jobs that you love. I am the luckiest man in the world."

Maybe he is, but I saw over a hundred members of his teams, and they all counted themselves pretty lucky for his influence. And I think they were.

This was really not a celebration of years or wins. It was a celebration of the man.

Monday, March 20, 2017


I think that if the world of fencing is soup, I am becoming a fork.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Henri Gales Takes Silver in Women's Vet 60 Epee

My training partner takes silver at the December NAC in women's Vet 60 Epee  . The term "training partner" seems less than descriptive when describing our friendship. I am so very proud of her. Go Henri Ellen! Top Photo: Henri and Coach Brian Toomey . Owner and Head Coach Charlotte Fencing Academy (who also medaled in Men's Vet 40 Epee.) Bottom photo: Coach Ron Miller Head Coach for the UNC varsity fencing team and celebrating his 50th season. I have been so lucky in having these coaches and I have been blessed to take this fencing journey with Miss Henri.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Short Random Thoughts

I am 64 years old. I have seen my parents die and my wife's parents die. Eventually you have to clean out the house where they lived and throw things away. Some of the keepsakes you toss would have great sentimental value to them. I am sitting in my man cave looking at fencing medals and such. I hope to leave them around, so my grand kids can find them. Perhaps they will think they are cool. I look at a nice 1st place one. They will not know that there were only 5 people in that event. I have a couple of coaching certificates and such hanging under the trophies. Other certificates with my fencing books and note books. If the kids dig through those books, they will find one certificate I got at an almost useless clinic. If you read the thing, it makes me sound like Zorro. Hope they find it.

Fenced in a tournament yesterday. I was seeded 7th going in. I was seeded 7th after pools. I was seeded 7th in the final results. It means nothing. I keep looking for meaning in epee results, but epee stats are akin to chaos for some of us. No longer looking for meaning there.

A couple of months back, my training partner got sort of conflicting instructions from our two coaches. As I remember, it had something to do with her stance. She talked on and on to me about it on the drive home. She was thinking out loud about it. After some time I stopped her. I looked at her and said, " You have 5 national medals, a couple of coaching certificates and you have been fencing for 11 years.You aren't a 10 year old listening to your coach. Your coaches are not petite 63 year old women fencers. Always listen. Occasionally, silently question advice. In the end, you must figure out what is right for you. You're smart enough to do so. Need to figure it out? The answer is always on the strip."

On a related topic: In fencing, often there is more than one correct way to do something.

Friday, September 16, 2016


According to both my coaches and in different ways I am improving, If just one had said it or implied it, I might have thought they were " blowing smoke". But as it is both of them, I will believe it. ( Right up to the point when I am destroyed in an upcoming tournament. Perhaps even after.) I am more relaxed and more confident. I know this. Young people will never understand the joy I get from my coaches comments. I have thought for a long time that as my body and mind aged, it would minimize or negate any chance for improvement technically or on strip. Maybe not.

It is unlikely that I will ever gain a higher rating or even renew my present one. It is not impossible, but it is improbable. So seeing improvement,.....reaching that such an uplifting experience.

Coach Toomey said ,with a smile, last night at practice, " After 12 years of fencing, you finally have a style." Perhaps I am remedial, but I am happy.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Fear and Failure

Fenced in a home tournament ( B1-15 people). Did well in pools fencing some good young guns.
Finished second in my pool and 5th out of pools. Went out my first DE to the guy seed 12th.. Disheartening. I suspect this was my best chance at renewing or improving my rating for this season and I blew it. I was tired and even though at one point I had a four point lead, I could not come up with a game plan. Vet Brian? Possibly so.  When I got home and washed my "whites", I washed a body cord with them.....and dried it. I had always feared doing that.

Another fear: I often go to club and find strange things attached to the Velcro of my jacket. Socks; grand kid clothes and wife's undies. I fear that some day there will be a repeat on the undies and someone will see them. That probably would not end well.