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Why I didn’t make the cut today: a Summer Nationals saga

Updated: a day ago

So…I didn’t make the cut in Division 1A Women’s Sabre this afternoon. That hasn’t happened to me since that time about seven years ago when I was the fencer right under the line. That was when they still drew the line by hand with a pencil. EXCLUDED. Boom. Today I saw it on a monitor, the red word generated by an unfeeling computer program. EXCLUDED. Boom. Still just as over.


I have a higher rating now and tons more experience, but I failed to make it to the DE round today. Why?


I could chalk it up to the fact that there wasn’t enough room to do my usual warm-up bouting. Or maybe it was the hour delay from the start of the event until I actually got to fence my pool bouts. All that down time is hard for a sabre fencer, right? The late afternoon time slot–that’s my low-energy time of day!


But no. The truth is, I didn’t make the cut today because I didn’t deserve it. I didn’t work hard enough to prepare. I didn’t start running again all those months ago like I needed to in order to build up my stamina. I didn’t do my workout apps to increase my strength. I let the stress of work get in the way of taking the time to prepare healthy food to fuel my body. Sure, I trained hard after school let out and during our June Competitive Camp, but that wasn’t nearly enough.


What’s worse is I sat during that extra hour talking to my Vet friend, laughing and joking about how this was an event to warm up for the true show of skill tomorrow: Veteran Women’s Sabre. I wasn’t focused and I wasn’t hungry for victory.


Since I didn’t care about the event, I failed.


Becoming a Vet fencer has been the highlight of my fencing. It’s great to pit yourself against women that have the same age and basic physical condition. I have made incredible friends and greatly admire everyone who chooses to continue fencing in middle-age and beyond.

But I have let the Veteran title define me as a fencer in a way that is too restrictive. I use it as a shield to keep me from being disappointed when a teenager beats me. I use it as an excuse to not move as fast or to be as physically fit. I have caught myself saying recently at practice: “that move would work on the vet fencers” to make myself feel better when I can’t get a touch off of the set-up that I’ve tried.


This all needs to stop. Now.


It’s true that fencing Vet events requires a different skill set then in the Senior open events. If I come off the line as quickly as I need to against a teenage fencer, some experienced Vet fencer will easily pick me off. But I am a smart cookie. I can fence differently when the situation demands it. I have chosen not to lately because it takes more effort, commitment, and hard work. I’ve been too lazy to adapt.


We’ll see what happens tomorrow morning during the Vet event. It’s the one I truly care about. But if my focus on beating the women in my age group keeps me from performing well at other levels, I really need to stop and examine what my motives in fencing truly are. My coach wants me to fence Division One events next season. I have the rating that qualifies me for it. But I don’t have the mindset or the physicality–yet. I’ll need some help getting there.

Some of you know that I really admire the Wonder Woman character and all she embodies. The WW inside me really wants to come out and play. Once I figure out how to let her do that… watch out, by Jove!


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