Sunday, February 28, 2010

Old Spurt?

Carolina/Duke Meet


February 19th: I went to the Duke/Carolina Meet. It was in an interesting and totally different venue. The event was held in the Eddie Smith Field House on the campus of UNC. I understand it had been 20 years since this event had been held.

There was some great fencing in all three weapons. Olympic medalist Becca Ward in Sabre (Duke). Thomas from France in Epee (UNC). But, the most amazing thing for me to see was Joe Alter (UNC Freshman) in Foil. He is incredible, and he was on fire that night. The previous weekend he had finished 14th in Foil at the Junior Olympics. I remember him as a little kid who fenced at Touche in Charlotte. Suddenly, he is a god. Awesome!

Besides the action, I got to talk with a lot of people I have not talked with lately. Alex and Elizabeth (of course)......Susan....my favorite sabreist, Avonlea (always interesting conversation)....the list goes on. It was an evening well spent.

Mid-South Event

The next Saturday evening, I went to the Mid-South Gala to support their efforts and to check out Deb's good eats. Nice event! I got to spend a lot of time with Coach and Susan. I did not get to spend any time talking to Deb, as she was so busy. She was kind enough to convince me to stay for dessert, which was wonderful.

My favorite part of the evening occurred after we went through the serving line and discovered there weren't any places to sit. Henri and I were just getting settled on the floor, when Jeff came over and told us we should not be sitting there. He said, " Let me go run off some teenagers from this table. I love doing that." And, he promptly did. It still makes me smile.

Sunday, I fenced in the Mid-South Epee tournament. I knew it was going to be hard, and I did not see myself even making it to the middle of the pack. Still, I thought there was one guy I could take, and a couple of more if I was having a good day. Evidently. I was not having a good day. I finished dead last in a field of 12. It has been a good while since I finished last in a event. I am still sulking about that. Even listening to T-Bone Walker did not help much.

I had not finished dead last in a tournament in some time. It brings in to question my age and if I can still give a decent account of myself. I have always told myself," I will compete as long as I think I am giving a decent account of myself." It also caused me to reevaluate myself. It is very hard for a person to see what kind of fencer he is. Clearly, I am not as good or knowledgeable as I think I am. (Which is a shame, as I never thought I was that good or that knowledgeable.)

I acted as the Division observer for the Mid-South Foil event. Fortunately, it was a warm day and I could goof off outside. I really enjoyed watching Foil. (Who would have thought it?) It became clear to me as I watched, that I could never fence this weapon properly, but I am developing an appreciation for it.

I had hoped I would do better in this weekend's tournament at ASU and my confidence would rally. Sadly, the event was canceled and no emotional rally took place.

Classes and Such

In local fencing, I did not make it to club in Greensboro all week. My wife is having vision problems and cannot drive. She will have surgery this Tuesday and hopefully this will fix her right up.

I had to fence in Chapel Hill on Tuesday, as I had left a small kit of expensive equipment there the previous Tuesday, and I was worried about it. I had a good lesson.

I fenced and talked with Jordan for a while that evening. I had not done so previously. I thought she would need some space to find new friends on the UNC team. (Jordan is a freshman who studied with our little club in Greensboro and made the UNC team.)

Charlotte Fencing Academy Camp

As the ASU tournament was canceled due to weather, I found an opportunity to go to Charlotte Fencing Academy for one of their weekend camps. I was glad I finally had a chance to do this and would recommend it to anyone.

The drills and private lesson with Toomey were the best parts. I also finally got to play "The Game" which I heard so much about. I got creamed fencing the young fencers. I did not plan on winning, but I thought the score would be a bit closer. Again, it makes me wonder about the age thing.

In my private lesson with Toomey, I was having trouble with balance. I don't recall having this problem before. It could be that after "The Game" my knee was bothering me. I am also aware that one of the things you lose as you age is balance. Possible "old spurt"? I will be 58 in a couple of months.

Editors Note; An old spurt is like a growth spurt. But, not a good thing.

This weekend.....Divisionals. I looked at the list of guys who are registered. I am pretty much counting on a miracle to win one pool bout. Time to go flip through the blues CDs again.

On a related note,I just found the book "The Inner Game of Tennis". Perhaps this may help.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

" Luke....I am your Grandfather! Search Your Feelings. You Know This to be True." " Nooooooooooooo"




It has been a while since I last posted.

Weather conditions, coaches on leave, stranded coaches, and sick coaches have caused a bit of problem in the Greensboro club, but somehow we always manage to overcome things.

Lessons and fencing in Chapel Hill have gone well for me. In private lessons from Coach, I received the best praise I've ever received from him. This is one of the noncompetitive ways I gauge my progress. I hope it was not just because he was in a good mood or something.

Last week I became a grandfather. This became a time of reflection for me, as I spent 12 hours in the hospital waiting for Lucas to arrive. During certain times, it is impossible not to think about the future. I was imagining how old he would have to be before we could start working on fencing. Would I be physically able to play with him in that regard? Would he have any interest in it at all?

I have three children. I know that your interests and the interests of your children rarely jives. Still, there have been exceptions to that. Two of my children fenced with me for a few months. It was unspoken, but we knew that they were not interested in fencing very much. They were starting their own lives and moving on. They did this so we could spend time together and share an experience. I will forever be grateful to them for doing that.

My heavy and aging body does not reflect it, but for many years I was a runner of sorts. I was never fast, but at times I could run forever. My favorite running was trail running in the woods. It suited my slow speed, as you must watch for roots and rocks. With my music playing, it was often like being in a movie. It was always moving meditation. Injuries took this away from me, and I miss it more than any activity I used to do. I mention this, as my son has become a runner. To what extent our history together influenced him, I cannot say. But, I think there there was some influence.

All of this reflection gave thought to how I have been thinking of fencing of late. I had been looking for something spiritual in it. Now, I think "spiritual" may have been the wrong word.

We are such a small non-mainstream sport, that we are all connected. Within that connection are sub-connections: weapon; age; location.....coach; fencer; parent. So, we are all connected by the sport of fencing, and then we are also connected by the various sub groups. Sometimes in ways not as obvious. I have friends who do not fence, fencer parents or coach's spouses. Yet, because of our ages or personalities, we have connected and are friends.

Now, not all fencers/coaches/fencer parents are a positive connection. If some of them were your dog, you would promptly take them to the vet and have them put down. Still, there is a connection. And many times those negative people provide a service, even if it is just a model of what not to emulate.

Often, however fencing parents and fencing friends may not even realize their influence. I have been influenced by non-fencers/fencing parents/coaches who were not my own. They never realized, or in some cases even cared, that they had positively affected my fencing journey.

I am sure most coaches look at all the kids that pass through their salles and wonder if they will fence or coach in the future. Will their children fence? Coaches cannot help but be aware that they are touching the future.

Jennifer Oldham, when writing her thesis for her Maitre d'Armes, did a poll on various aspects of fencing. I do not remember the question or answer exactly , but a number of fencers reported feeling about fencing as , "being connected to something larger than themselves".

You might see that as spiritual. Perhaps there is a better word.

Last weekend at the Duke Meet, a beautiful young twelve year old girl and her parents came to watch "real" fencing for the first time. She is one of our students in Greensboro. She has long, beautiful hair and huge, blue eyes, that are so bright they seem to have a light behind them.

She turned to me during the meet as we watched. Her eyes grew even larger and brighter as she said, " Fencing is just so very cool!"

I wonder about her and the future, just like I wonder about my grandson and fencing. You never know, but I like to think I might be pleasantly surprised.