Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Junior Olympics (JOs) fencing competition in Richmond VA with my daughter. This is the end-of-season championship event for Cadet (Under 16) and Junior (Under 19) fencers for the US. Even though there is a “Summer Nationals” event every year in late June/early July, JOs is the final event of the fencing year for this age group.
This was a very large event with all of the best teenage fencers in the country in attendance. We saw current and future Olympians and national champions. It was really very impressive and the skill level was very high.
Some RFC team members did very well, and some were hoping for better results, but that’s the nature of competition at this level. But it was a great bonding event for those that attended. RFC team members and parents watched and supported each other when not fencing, and there was a great team dinner with parents, kids, and coaches.
Unfortunately, we also saw some bad attitudes, both by fencers and parents in attendance (but not any of the RFC attendees). When it comes down to it, it’s supposed to be a game. Kids yelling at refs, parents yelling at refs and kids – that’s not what it’s all about. Refs make mistakes and kids make mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
Parenting at a fencing tournament can be a challenge. You want your child to do well and be happy with their result (both so they feel good about their hard work AND so the ride home is more pleasant). Each child will need different kinds of support. Some kids want their parents to cheer, some want their parents to be watch quietly, and some want their parent far enough away that they don’t even know the parent is watching. Support your child in the way that works best for both of you.
Fencing is a life classroom, both for the fencer and the parent. I once read the best thing you can say to your child after a sporting event, regardless of the result, is “I loved watching you play.” I think that’s great advice.