Monday, March 9, 2009

The Road Ahead

“In 1998, Dr. Sally Robinson retired from her teaching position in Exercise and Sports Science at UNCG. She approached the YWCA with the idea of creating a fencing program as a program of the Y.

The YWCA embraced the idea, and with no equipment, she started teaching classes using rolled up newspapers and safety goggles. The money each class generated went directly into purchasing equipment. She never accepted pay for her work, and the YWCA never gave her more than the space to work in.

Eleven years later, the Downtown Fencing Club has gained five additional USFA certified coaches, all the equipment we use in our classes, parts to maintain it all, and three electric scoring systems making us capable of holding small tournaments. “

Unfortunately, the YWCA has fallen on hard times. Because of this every fitness program except for fencing will end on March 21st. Fencing has been allowed to stay on through the end of the semester on May 29th.

At the end of May we will lose our affiliation with the YWCA and our space, but we will still have our coaches, our equipment.

The hunt begins in earnest for a new affordable space. I am uncertain as to how successful we will be as we do not generate a lot of income. Hope springs eternal.

I will set aside my hope for now and not focus on the kids; my friends or the community.
I will take a moment to look at how this affects me.

Should the DFC no longer be able to continue, what would I do?

Delta H? It seems to be just foil, though it would be a place to at least do some footwork and blade work. Just fence at NCFDP? There is a limit to how much money, gas and time commuting I can spend even in pursuit of my passion.

If the DFC survives, how will this affect me? The coaches are facing some life changing situations. It would fall more and more on me to take a role as an assistant coach.

I am a very good and dependable helper, but I have never wanted to be a coach. (Not that I do not enjoy helping someone one-on-one. I do. But running a class is a different thing entirely. It takes a certain type of personality, which I do not have.)

What I want to do is learn and compete, while I still can. I may not have all the time in the world in that regard. At some point in the future, it may be that I feel I have learned enough and competed enough to have things to share with new fencers. (Beyond a beginner class.) Things change and at some point I may like to be an assistant coach. But as for the present, I just want to learn everything I can and compete.

I feel like I am following a path that up ahead forks in many directions and there is nothing to do but trudge on.

Note: Part of this post is borrowed from the writings of Woody Cavanaugh.


Meredith said...

That is sad to hear about your club. Hopefully they will be able to adapt and continue.

When I came to NB all I wanted to do was fence, but also realized that there was a leadership vacuum with nobody to fill it. So I, too, have had to take up coaching in order to continue my fencing habit (my last post is something of a lament to that fact). I think many amateurs fall into coaching that way. But I do still get to fence, and it has its own joy when a new fencer starts to "get it."

Anyway, best of luck in whatever you decide.

cobalt said...

Like skinning cats, there's more than one way to run a fencing class. You probably are discounting yourself more than you think. You're a good person who is looking out for the best interests of the fencers, and you know how people are supposed to fence(Even if you don't always do it yourself). That's really all you need to coach people in the sport. Sure they may/may not be national champions, but if a fencer loves the game, they'll be better for it. Not only in fencing, but in life itself.

Regarding the business end, actually, finding good cheap space isn't too hard right nowThe trick is being able to pay for it. Good news is the bad economy is rental prices are down, so you can put in for a 5 year lease for a song. And I expect Greensboro to be even cheaper than where I'm at.

We can talk separately over e-mail about this if you want, but you may want to talk with Gerhard primarily. He took stuff from me and others, and altered it to fit his unique situation. He's probably in the most similar situation to ya'll, and it looks like his club is doing pretty well for itself right now.

As said before, the community as a whole has a stake in seeing Greensboro grow (Whether they all realize it or not). And a lot of them could give some pretty good advice.