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Insights into the world of fencing and thoughts on life

  • Writer's pictureKate

My first Division 1 event was…

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

October NAC at the Richmond Convention Center

October NAC at the Richmond Convention Center.

Last week I told you that I was going to participate in my first Division 1 Women’s Sabre event and promised to let you know how it went. Let me start off by giving you a rundown of last week…

Monday: I’m going to have fun in this event! I have some basic goals set and I’m as ready as I can be!

Tuesday: I totally suck at fencing and I can’t believe I’m going to put myself through the shame of competing in Division 1!

Wednesday: It’s going to be ok. Everyone freaks out when they move up a level. It won’t be so bad.

Thursday: I didn’t have time to practice bout at all today because of stuff going on at the club (lessons, etc)! I’m going to get totally destroyed!

Friday: It’s time to fly to Richmond. It’s showtime!

Saturday: I’m watching all of this great fencing! I’m inspired to do well!

Sunday: I totally sucked in Division 2 today (ended up 60th out of 114 fencers and was originally seeded 35th). How on earth do I think I will be able to compete against the country’s best female fencers if I can’t do well in Division 2??

For Monday I’ll show you the progression of Facebook posts I made about the event.

Yesterday at 8:57am ·OMG. I’m warming up with Olympians, NCAA Champions, Cadet and Junior Champions…

Yesterday at 10:34am ·I just won my first Division 1 bout!!!!

23 hrs ·OMG! I made the cut!! I’m headed to DEs!!

Results in Div 1 WS at the October NAC n Richmond, VA

Results in Div 1 WS at the October NAC n Richmond, VA

I don’t know if it was due to the fact that I had absolutely NO expectations of my abilities or if I really am fencing at a higher level than I think I am, but this event ROCKED. I had so much fun “playing the game” with all the “big girls”. In most tournaments I have one or two bouts per event that really challenge me tactically but this time EVERY bout was that way. I LOVED IT!! I had a record of 2-4 and lost my first DE 13-15 but I had a great time. I really enjoyed having to out-think my opponents and not win because of strength or speed but because of strategy.

So…let’s take a look back at my original post and what I hoped to learn from this event:

It will show me the holes in my game: I found two things I really need to improve before the NAC in December. One is the off-the-line strong attack, as I got too many calls against me in the middle for holding. The other is dealing with the strong attack of my opponent right off the line.

It will make me a better coach: This one, not so much. I was focusing so much on my own performance that I didn’t have time to think about how I would coach someone in this event.

It will get me out of my comfort zone: So much yes. As you can see from the whirlwind of emotions that occurred last week, I was really uncomfortable with the idea of competing at the higher level. I was afraid I would embarrass myself and not measure up. On Monday morning I kept repeating to myself “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. It did it anyway and ended up very satisfied with my performance.

It will help me practice mental focus and self-confidence: Another resounding “yes”. Do you know how terrifying it is to see the women who are warming up beside you and know that they have accomplished great things in the fencing world? To see Daria Schneider warming up on the strip next to yours and muster up the courage to go talk to her about her practice of acro-yoga? To see Monica Aksamit’s game face coming your way? (Run away! Run away!) And then to ask some of those women to warm up with you, a fencer they don’t know, and not fall all over yourself as you practice with them? I was also unsure if I would have the mental focus I needed to get me through all of my pool bouts, but that didn’t prove to be an issue.

It will make me a better fencer: Surprisingly, no. The event itself won’t make me better. Six pool bouts and one DE won’t improve your skill much. What I do with what I learned from it, however, will make me better by the time the next Division 1 event comes around. Because I plan on being there. No question.

I started the event seeded 105th out of 108 fencers and ended up 80th. Much better than expected! I simply wanted to place higher than my original seed (which is my standard tournament goal). My personal goal was to win two pool bouts and to make the other fencers fight me for every touch. I had one bout I felt I could have done better in but made the other competitors work hard to beat me the majority of the time. I was also pleased that I didn’t lose touches because of lack of stamina, but rather lack of experience. I already met my end-of-season goal of making it to the DE round (two places above the cut! yes!) so I will need to set higher goals for the next time.

To all of the women who helped me warm up before this event: thank you. To all of the women in my pool: thank you. To the fencer who defeated me in the DE: thank you. To the hard-working referees in this event: thank you. All of you helped me see the skills I have and (some) of those I still need to acquire. It was an honor to be a part of you. And I’m looking forward to seeing and fencing you in December.

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