Bring it On!

kelley

(Kelley) For my very first blog post, it was tough to figure out what to write. There are so many things I can tell you about fencing. I’ve been doing it almost 20 years now, so it’s extremely difficult to figure out where to start. There are so many wonderful aspects of this amazing sport, but with that comes disappointments and frustration. I imagine every sport has their fair share of highs and lows, ups and downs, peaks and valleys. I can’t tell you how many times after a disappointing finish that I have thought to myself, why do I do this to myself? Why do I keep at this even when I clearly suck (I am always rather hard on myself). Surely there must be something better out there that I can be doing with my life? But after I calm down, take a breath, and can clear my head (sometimes this process takes days, weeks even), I always realize that I stick at it because I live for those glorifying moments (as few as they are) when you come out on top at long last; when all the hard work, sweat, and tears pay off. When they put that medal over your head, or play your anthem, it makes it all worth it. Fencing is an incredibly humbling sport. You are constantly reminded you are mortal and should never be complacent, because your time on top is fleeting. In fact, you can turn around the next day and lose to everyone (trust me, I’ve been there). Enjoy the win while you can, but the hard work can never stop. Because once you’ve reached the top, everyone is gunning for you. In fact, your job becomes that much tougher. People don’t fence you the same way they used to. There’s a fire in their eyes now, and they WANT to beat you so badly. You have to constantly prove why you deserve to be there.  But along with that, comes their respect. To earn the respect of your peers is a feeling that lasts a lifetime. I get to travel all over the world, see and experience things that some people only dream of. I get to do something that I love with my sister, whom I love. We feel each other’s pain, but bask in each other’s successes. As a team, I believe we can do anything together. So I guess what I am trying to say is, you have to find your own reasons as to why you stick at it, but just know that I would do it all over if I could. Disappointments and all… Bring it on!

 

Taking a Break

courtney-2016-11-20

(Courtney) I have been fencing for almost my entire life and have never taken longer than a two week break from it. Just a couple of years ago fencing “season” was literally all year long. There were 12 Senior World Cups, national tournaments, zonal championships and World Championships. When I was younger I also fenced in Cadet and Junior World Cups and World Championships and I fenced for college. Since I was 15 I have made every world team and fenced at every World Championships. I’m not joking when I said fencing was literally all year long. Fortunately in the last 2-3 years the senior circuit has been decreased to only 8 World Cups and there is a small break of two months after World Championships before the first World Cup now. Unfortunately since that schedule has been implemented I have been 100% devoted to training for this last Olympics in Rio and I had no time to take a longer break than a couple weeks. I remember after the London Olympics in 2012 that I was promised a break by everyone. After our surprising Bronze Medal however we started making money because of our team world ranking and it was hard to turn down money that we so desperately needed. So we continued the year after London and then the time for training for Rio shortly came up after that. Right after the Rio Olympics ended I put my foot down and demanded a break. I had been training as my full time job for almost three years and I mentally could not keep going. I am now going on almost month 4 of my break and have only picked up an epee once which was at a national tournament in which Kelley and I won first and second. Ironically the year leading up to the Rio Olympics I only made one top eight at a NAC and didn’t even make any more points the rest of the year. I really believe that my break from the sport and a clear head helped me perform. Fencing relies heavily on one’s mental state and strength and I can say at the Rio Olympics that was arguably my only problem which prevented a possible medal. I’m hoping this relatively long break from the sport will help restart my brain and I hope when I start fencing again in a month or two that I will be ready to work hard again. Unfortunately fencing also relies heavily on one’s physical strength and that is going to be a huge obstacle once I return back to fencing. Physical strength can always be regained but mental strength is not as easy.