The date is July 7, 2019. Inside the Greater Columbus Convention Center, a young fencer by the name Aidan Lee prepares for his tournament – Youth 12 (Y12) – which consists of multiple bouts. An announcer calls for the first round, which consists of pools, where the athlete must face a variety of individual opponents.
Aidan walks over to where his pool strip is located. While hooking up to the strip, a combination of nervousness and excitement start to set in. Taking a deep breath, he begins the mental preparation of having the right mindset before he starts to fence. Having the right mindset is important in every one of his bouts, whether it’s with an easy opponent or a difficult one.
As he recounts his previous experiences with these competitions, what he learned from them is that not only do you have successes, but with every success, there are failures too. Through these failures, there is always something to learn that can pertain to any life experience that you may face.
Motivation for setting goals. Fencing is a sport where most athletes must be mentally strong. It is known for its speed, individual games, and the need for balance, agility, fakes, and mental acuity. The rigorous mental demands from this sport requires that the athlete has complete control over their mind, body and emotions-poise and mental toughness.
Within each bout, if the athlete does not believe in him/herself, than it is almost impossible to succeed. The mental game of fencing proves that the athlete must create the opportunities for them to succeed, by keeping an open mind. These experiences teach the athlete to build their self confidence, which in turn builds for more motivation for athletes to reach goals that they hold in life.
Regulating your inner emotions. The key to winning any fencing tournament or any sports game in general is to keep your inner emotions in check, and keeping focused. In fencing, athletes tend to make hasty decisions based on their current emotion and overrun reasoning. Fencers learn to adapt to any situation they are in with life, they know how to make the right decision without letting their emotions over cloud their thinking.
Practice makes perfect. In fencing, or in any sport, athletes learn to become the best through dedication and practice. When you face an opponent and you keep losing, it is vital that you continue to practice until you figure out a way to beat that opponent. Through many trials and errors, athletes start to develop the idea that practice makes perfect. This allows them to apply this skill to academic purposes, such as studying in order to get the grade that they want in school.
The start of strategic thinking and academic focus. In fencing, each bout is similar to a game of chess: each move made by the opponent must be faced with a response made quickly. Athletes learn to think strategically so that they can hit and score a point. On the strip, all the moves made by the fencer is made through independent thinking. They learn to be focused and intuitive. As they start to think on their feet – this skill goes a long way, whether it’s helping them academically, socially, or later on when they go to their workplace.
Learning and becoming friends with a variety of other athletes. Whenever Aidan goes to any national tournament, he gets to meet all these fencers from around the world. I’ve seen him build some incredible friendships with people he never would’ve met if he hadn’t done this sport. In addition, through every sports team, athletes learn to work together with a variety of other people- they learn teamwork. This is especially helpful later on when they start to go to work, and they have to learn how to work together and collaborate with others.
Through years of experience, every athlete grows and learns from their failures and successes. There are many other life lessons to be learned. You see, everyone makes mistakes and everyone has failures. If you understand that failure is an opportunity to learn, and that perseverance through anything is key, you will find success. That is guaranteed. With fencing, or any sport, they can always shape you up for more than just your athletic career- they teach important life lessons.
Annette Lee, Grade 11
James Madison High School