You don’t have to be a fencing parent for very long before hearing the story about the kid that tried every other sport but would never do it for very long before losing interest– until he tried fencing. The parent says, presumably with a tear of joy flowing from his eye, “This is the only sport he felt like he was any good at. Now it’s the only sport he does.” Fencing coaches love this story, especially when the parent confesses that he should have known his kid would like fencing because he always loved playing with toy swords or light sabres and pretending to be a pirate or a Jedi Knight. Of course, what kid doesn’t want to be a Captain Jack Sparrow or Luke Skywalker? As an aside, if you haven’t heard the “my kid only does fencing” story, check out the first few chapters of The Devil’s Sword by Douglas E. Richards.
I always felt like there is something wrong with my two sons because they actually like doing other sports besides fencing. Sometimes my kids actually, big gasp, like another sport more than fencing! I try not to announce this to the fencing coach especially when there is a conflict with a fencing tournament competition that weekend. I think there might be other parents out there with kids like mine and they may eventually silently move their kids away from fencing because of other commitments. I fear that there are still other parents that have their kids try fencing but decide not to have their kids continue for fear of an unending commitment. Unlike other seasonal sports, fencing has no real season that has a definite beginning and end. After all, despite us parents sometimes having delusions that our kids will become a professional super sports star, we only put our kids into sports programs to learn some valuable lessons in how to work hard to achieve a goal while having fun and getting some exercise. Can’t we do that in a few months and then let them do something else? Besides, when they get out of high school they probably won’t be playing any more sports, right? Well fear not silent (majority?) parents, your kids can have their foil and soccer ball too!
My 13 year old son has been fencing since 2006 and has played on, and still plays on, teams including recreational soccer, select soccer, indoor soccer, basketball, and football. He still fences competitively and has gone to Summer Nationals. My 10 year old son has fenced since 2009 and has played, and still plays recreational soccer. He expects to compete at his first Summer Nationals this year. So how to do it while juggling all those other things? Join a fencing club that fits with your schedule.
The Royal Arts Fencing Academy schedule has fencing classes on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7:00 with open bouting on Saturdays from 10:00 to Noon. Usually these are good times since school athletic practices are usually from 3:00 to 4:30. But if the kids have a practice at the same time on one of the nights, then you can skip that night during that sport’s season and just go at the other times. Also, the nice thing about fencing is that it is indoors so, if during the sport’s season a practice or game gets canceled, you can have the kids fence instead. If all the times interfere with your kids’ schedules, you can always sign your kids up for private lessons, just so they don’t lose their fencing skills during the “other” sport’s season. Further, when all else failed for my eldest kid, I asked at my son’s school if Royal Arts could run after school lessons with the other kids at his school and Coach Julia was kind enough to start a fencing program at my eldest’s school.
With so many time demands on both the children and parents these days, it’s very hard to juggle your and your children’s schedules to fit in any athletics. However, somehow I manage to keep all the balls in the air because I enjoy seeing my kids learn and appreciate many different sports. Even though I struggle to keep my kids going and despite my kids’ success in other sports, I am pretty certain that they will not be playing these sport after they finish school. Unlike other sports, fencing is a sport my children can do as adults. So, the nice thing about fencing is that, if you encourage your children’s interest in this sport by having them do it without giving up the other activities, you can give your kids the gift of a sport that they can enjoy for the rest of their lives no matter what else they do.