We all know that Fencing Summer National are a big deal, but if you’re not aiming for your child to be the next Olympian, then what’s the point?
Many parents struggle to understand just why it’s so important for their young fencers to go to Nationals. It’s a great deal of effort, sacrifice, and expense for a child to make it to this kind of event. At the end of the day, what are they getting out of it?
Fencing Summer Nationals is more than a stepping stone to bigger fencing targets, and it’s not just for those fencers who want to chase their fencing dreams to college and beyond. Participating in this event gives young people something so much more. This is a powerful and important experience for many reasons.
Here are fifteen reasons why you and your child should make the effort to go to Fencing Summer Nationals. And they don’t all have to do with fencing!
1. A true celebration of fencing
4,000-5,000 fencers participate in Fencing Summer Nationals. That number is so big that it’s hard to imagine! For anyone who has been there, they’ll tell you that it’s truly phenomenal. Every age, every category is filled with fencers who are passionate about being there
2. Fencing heroes and idols
Fencing is a very unique sport because even at a relatively low level you can compete against the best in the world. That includes being up close and personal with world and Olympic medalists. You don’t have to be an Olympian yourself to fence against these guys. For a child, being around that kind of success is transformative and helps them to see that big things are possible for them.
What motivates you to work hard? That’s a big question for all of us. Fencing Summer Nationals gives fencers a big reason to get up and train in the morning. Seeing that big dream up on the wall has been transformative for so many of the young fencers that we’ve seen.
4. Goal setting skills
Setting big goals and then going out and following through is one of the best things that kids get out of attending Fencing Summer Nationals. To get to this competition, it takes months of planning and hard work. Kids learn what it takes to stick with something through to the end through good goal setting.
5. Fence against different levels
When we stay at local or regional competitions, it’s easy to be lulled into thinking that the people we’ve been fencing are the best that are out there. Fencing Summer Nationals gives fencers the chance to meet people that are at a different level, but within their own category. Fencers get to see what it really means to be the best in Y14, for example, and then to learn from those fencers in terms of patterns of preparation, approach on the strip, interaction with their coach, etc. It’s easy for teens and tweens to think that they know all there is to know, and going to Fencing Summer Nationals helps them to see that their assumptions can be challenged!
6. Watch high level fencing
Fencers who attend Fencing Summer Nationals get the chance to watch high level fencing from the final stages (e.g. the top 16) and on. This teaches fencers a great deal about modern direction, about how the refs are reading actions, about how fencers react, about what they do, and so much more. Simply watching this kind of very skilled fencing ups a competitors game significantly. Watching in person is VERY different than seeing a video, because you can see it in context of everything else that’s happening for those fencers.
7. EVERYONE learns
Even if your child loses and is eliminated in the preliminary rounds, that doesn’t matter at Fencing Summer Nationals. They’ll still get to participate, they’ll still get the pride, they’ll still get the experience of being there. Parents learn what their kids are capable of and how to best support them, kids learn what it’s like to travel to a major competition and to explore the ins and outs of doing something on this large scale. That gives them confidence to do big things later down the line!
8. Size matters
Fencing is a small, niche sport. You know that and I know that, and it’s one of the reasons that a lot of people love it. There has been some expansion of our sport in the last ten-fifteen years with increased spotlight, but we still want to get the word out! Your neighbors have probably never seen it. Your friends have probably never seen it. However when you get to Fencing Summer Nationals, the sheer size of the crowd and number of fencers makes your child realize that they are part of something big. Attending Summer Nationals gives them such perspective!
9. The fencing gear
This is by far the best place to shop for fencing gear. Most of your fencing gear probably came from either your club or through on online order. You’ve probably never seen fencing gear in a retail shop. Standing there with a vendor who has a hundred masks or piles of foils is just a totally different and amazing experience. Here you will have dozens of things to choose from – with the endless collection of all possible fencing related equipment items and even fencing memorabilia. This place is HUGE fun to shop at or at least to window shop at (which let’s be serious can be almost just as fun). Fencing Summer Nationals is as close to fencing gear heaven as you’ll ever see.
10. The award ceremonies
Medal ceremonies are always fun, but at Fencing Summer Nationals they’re even more fun! After all of the hard work, seeing those fencers who YOUR CHILD competed with get that national medal is an unbelievable experience. There is simply nothing like witnessing it in person, hearing about their previous results and being around to congratulate the winners. When we see people succeed, it helps us to feel good too!
11. Something bigger
The finals and all of the big tributes happen right in front of the final strip, and the whole thing has the atmosphere of being something very much bigger. If you’ve ever been to a big sports game like soccer or football, you’ll know that watching something in a venue with hundreds of fans is a totally different experience than reading about it later. It’s so important that you and your child feel like you’re a part of something bigger! Of course since there are no tickets to the final bout, the whole thing is totally free! Be a part of something that feels bigger and is bigger than anything else you’ve felt with fencing.
12. The pride
If this is your child’s first national level event, then they get to have the pride of having their name being stenciled on the back of their uniform. That’s a point of pride, and a beautiful one that feels so much better than we even realize it will. It’s a super proud moment! When they return home and will go next season to their club or competition, they will no longer be newbies – their name will be a witness of their national level experience!
13. Sense of belonging
Their clubmates go. Their coaches go. It’s important to feel like you’re a part of a team, that you matter to a group of people who you care about. This feeling of not being left behind is very, very important for kids. The camaraderie is powerful, and being left behind while everyone else goes to Fencing Summer Nationals can have the opposite effect – it can kill motivation and put a damper on their enthusiasm for the sport. If they start thinking that fencing and their success in it aren’t important enough, eventually these fencers will quit.
Summer Nationals gives kids the opportunity to fence in a lot of different events, more than at any other fencing tournament. For example, a 15-year-old boy can potentially fence in cadet, junior, Div2, Div3, Div1A and Senior team – this is a total 6 (!) events. What a great thing. Of course, qualification is required to attend each, but more possibilities means more chances to get all of the other good things on this list. Creating a detailed plan of action to get there is important for fencers, and this is one of the hands down best reasons to jump in for Fencing Summer Nationals.
15. Life experience!
In life, every parent wants their child to have big, beautiful life experiences that make them happy and help them to feel good about themselves. People take their kids camping, or to the beach, or to Disneyland , etc. Going to Fencing Summer Nationals gives your child a life experience that they have taken part in, one that’s big and bold and beautiful.
The answer, to be clear, is YES! Your child should absolutely pursue going to Fencing Summer Nationals.