Fencing Frustrations

Mon Jan 22nd, 2001 01:02:32 AM EST

Diary Entry 1
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So I am, for better or for worse, the men's captain of the MSU fencing team (that's right, Olympic-style sword fighting). Lately, it seems like it's mostly for the worse.

Everything seemed to be going so well last year at the end-of-year banquet when I was elected captain for this year. I figured I'd work hard and put in a lot of time and we'd have a reasonable season and everything would be okay. Well, I suppose that a lot of that could still come true, but it's just not looking good to me at the moment.

I put in a lot of personal effort. I can count on one hand the number of practices I've missed over the last four years on the MSU team. I want to learn, I want to do well, I want to win, dammit. But it seems like that's just not what I do. My best record for a year has been 40% wins in bouts. So far this year I'm not even matching that. I'm sure I have the worst record of any of the four-year team members. This is terribly depressing.

Our club president seems to be really down on me, and I don't even understand why. She yells at me for all sorts of things. I wish she'd just tell me about the problems she has with the way I work, instead of saving them all up for a while and then getting angry at me about them. I want to make people happy, not disappoint them.

I like to think that I'm pretty good at teaching fencing at the level I'm at, or at the very least beginning footwork. I don't have any reason to doubt this at the moment. That's good I guess.

All my frustrations came to a head this weekend at the Mega-Meet in Evanston, Illinois at Northwestern University. This is a huge collegiate fencing tournament that draws competition from as far away as Florida and California. It is the largest tournament on our schedule each year and the only one where we miss an entire day of classes to attend. The men fence on Friday and Saturday; women, on Saturday and Sunday.

I am a sabre fencer (the other two weapons are foil and épée). Friday's first round in sabre, against the University of Chicago team, we started out moving so slowly. I am ashamed that we lost this round. It was terrible.

Thankfully I figured out what was wrong and we managed to come back and comport ourselves properly for our second and third rounds, against University of Florida and North Carolina, respectfully. We were still beaten, but it wasn't really an embarrassing defeat in either case. Those schools were just better than us. On the other hand, personally I was very upset with my performance. Against Florida in particular, all three of my bouts went 4-5 against me. Frustrating as hell. (The foil and épée squads did better than sabre.)

On Saturday things went much the same. Dale, our coach, got very annoyed with me and the rest of the sabre squad. Especially because he's a sabre fencer himself, it's a real embarrassment that our sabre squad is not as strong as it should be. He did show us the way that we should be fencing. I wish I could fence against opponents as well as I do against him. Maybe the problem is that I know him too well. It really hurts me to disappoint him and let down the squad and the team as well.

Our club president, couldn't be at the meet due to illness. This means that she couldn't be there to note down things I'm doing wrong in order to yell at me later, but she couldn't be there to fence or support the team, either. I wish she could have made it. I still wonder what she'll be upset at me for this coming week, though. I don't think I did anything to misrepresent the team, but I'm sure it'll be easier to tell later.

The University of Michigan club is proposing a new meet to be scheduled for February 17. This is a personal disaster for me. I had be planning to go to the Honors College Ball (``geek prom'') on that night, and I actually had a date for once in my life. But more meets are good for the club, so I've got to support it as much as I can, and that includes going to it and competing. So if there's any way to bring off the meet, I've got to cancel going to geek prom and my date as well. I am heart-broken, but that's the way it is.

I guess things might not turn out so bad for the sabre squad if my idea for practices in the near future pans out. I have some ideas for helping me and the rest of the sabre fencers in competition. I hope that they work out. Otherwise, I might as well not even bother to compete.

Looking back over this, it's not all that coherent, but, hell, it's for me as much as for anyone else. It's time to get some sleep anyway.

Last updated 03 Apr 2004 21:17. Copyright © 2004 Ben Pfaff.
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