Know what this is?

sn4poLast night at practice we celebrated Reghan’s success in the Division 2 event at the Richmond NAC. As all the SabreCats in attendance applauded and cheered her accomplishment, I was struck by an (uncharacteristic) desire to make a speech. In the middle of a circle of mostly 10 to 12 year-olds with a sprinkling of teenagers, the high point was when I held up her Bronze medal and said: “Know what this is? It’s a physical representation of HOURS of sweat and hard work.” It was a moment worthy of a highlight reel, something out of Miracle or Hoosiers.

At least in my mind.

The lucky recipients of my speech. You can tell they take things very seriously.
The lucky recipients of my speech. You can tell they take things very seriously.

But it’s true: a medal isn’t the result of one “good day” on the strip or a series of lucky events. It can only come after lots of practice, trial and error, and failure. Lots of failure. A fencer needs to be willing to take risks and fail during practice before they can develop new techniques. Do you know how many times Reghan had to practice her jump-Parry 2 before she could pull it off not once, but FOUR times in her round of 8 DE? Hundreds, at least. Maybe thousands.

It’s also a manifestation of teamwork. We say this over and over to the fencers at our club: individuals don’t win medals, TEAMS win medals. We are in a sport that celebrates individual victories but let’s never forget that those victories can’t come to pass without good teammates. A good fencer is not created in a vacuum. They need different people with different fencing styles to practice against. They need a support system in place to cheer them when they do well and help pick up the pieces when they don’t. Reghan wouldn’t have been able to learn her jump-Parry 2 without all of us trying our best to hit her every time she tried it. We hit her. A lot.

At first.

Not so much anymore.

Until she works on a new aspect of her game. Then we’ll hit her a lot again. For a while.

And that’s how the cycle goes. You do it over and over until the new skills become old hat. You accumulate enough moves until they finally all add up into the pretty, shiny manifestation of your effort hanging around your neck. Then you start again with a new technique. Then you go back and clean up one that’s gotten sloppy. That’s the fun part about fencing and what keeps it fresh and new, even if you’ve been doing it for a while.

To me, a medal = hard work + diligent practice + positive support system.

What would your “formula” for a medal look like? What does a medal represent to you?

2 thoughts on “Know what this is?

  1. What you wrote is 100% true – EVERYBODY contributes to each others successes – fencers by bouting each other no matter the skill level in club time, parents by bringing their kids to club and going to tournaments with their kids on a consistent basis, coaches doing what coaches do (amazing stuff this fencing mom would never know how to do or say to fencing kid), encouraging words/thoughts/prayers/good vibes/Facebook comments, for fencers going to tournaments. Don’t for one minute think the fencer at a NAC doesn’t know about all the kind/generous folks back home – it’s what keeps the fencer going and trying again and again to get better and place better. Those national medals belong to not only the fencer but everyone!

    Another good quote: Winners never quit and quitters never win – Vince Lombardi

    Liked by 1 person

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