Are You Cheating on Coach Julia?

Beautiful, athletic, Russian with the agility and deadly accuracy of a Bond girl. She has a singular focus on fencing; only a fool would try to deceive Coach Julia Ritchey, of the Royal Arts Fencing Academy.  Is that a basketball in the fencing bag?  Why is there a shin guard under your fencing uniform?  If Julia asks whether your son is going to be at the fencing tournament this weekend, do you hang your head and whisper something incoherently that may either be “he has a soccer game in Johnstown” or “his aunt passed away . . . really. . .Otherwise, you know, we’d be there.”

For some, fencing is the only sport.  For these parents, the long hours in the rain are over.  No more mad dashes to Walgreens at 7:15 am because it’s your turn to bring soccer snacks and you’ve convinced yourself that Cheetos and cheese are the functional equivalent; no more rips in the space time continuum because the little league game will not end; no more washing the gymnastics leotard with the work shirts and all is pink.  For these parents, the fencing major has been declared and the elective courses are over!

For others, though, their daughters and sons still really like playing other sports a lot.  You want them to choose one sport and you, who are tired and overworked, really, really need them to choose.  You might want to throw down the fencing glove and say “Choose now.”  However, in your heart of hearts you know this is not like dating around when it’s time to get engaged or choosing your political party or religion . . .  or deciding if you will get up early to watch the royal wedding and make your sons watch too because “THIS IS HISTORY.” This doesn’t have to be a permanent choice or a passion.  For most, this is recreation – not destiny. And no sport, not even fencing, is more important than school.

So what do you do if your son wants to fence and still play on the middle school soccer team?  Let him.  How do you keep the fencing skills up?  Join a fencing club like Royal Arts that offers multiple group fencing sessions each week as well as private lessons.  That way, if your daughter’s volleyball practice is at the same time on one of the nights or it’s midterm exam week, then you can still get some fencing in even if you have to miss a few nights.

One of the best things about fencing is that it is a sport for all seasons.  When you are less busy, you can fence more and when there just isn’t time, fencing, ever constant, will still be there when you’re ready to come back.  It’s like a good relationship that is grounded in honesty.   So let them choose fencing and perhaps choose something else too.  And, speaking of good relationships grounded in honesty, talk to your coach when you can’t sign up for the fencing tournament because of soccer—don’t avoid her.  And don’t worry . . . she won’t expect you to miss the funeral.

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