I’m about as ready as one could be for this type of commmittment. I fenced in tournaments as a high schooler for two years — granted, this was over thirty years ago (that’s nearly a third of a century, for those of you scoring at home), but the experience is not entirely lost on me. There were also a couple of phys ed classes I took at Northwestern — they were non-credit classes, but you had to take two to graduate, a requirement I also found odd (the classes counted, but not really) — that were taught by Laurie Schiller, the legendary fencing coach and history professor. I didn’t have much success either in high school or college, and while I didn’t exactly quit fencing, I decided to direct my focus towards areas where I could find more success.

And then, three decades of no fencing, until I saw a course description in an adult recreation catalog. Had actually been thinking for a few years about getting back into the sport, the frustration I had experienced mostly eclipsed by fond memories of my high school teammates (still good friends) and Laurie Schiller’s magnetic personality. Took a chance, signed up for the beginner class, followed that a month later with the advanced class. A year later I started feeling restless in the recreational class; I wasn’t the best fencer (not hardly), but I felt like I was going through the motions, never really improving, running in place. Took another chance, signed up for classes at a fencing school with a more competitive focus. That was six months ago, and while I’m having less “success” than I had as a recreational fencer (OK, I lose just about every practice bout), I found that I was enjoying myself more. So when the head coach challenged us to step up our training effort, I took yet another chance.

Bought my own equipment a few months after my first recreational class (after seeing a kid sneeze into her mask one night, no further inspiration was needed). Mask, jacket, glove, practice foil — lame a year later — electrical foil and body cord should come this week, shoes probably in another month.

Don’t know if I’m ready for this new commitment, but all that matters is that I’ve begun.


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