Last weekend was a long and fantastic weekend at Salt Lake City, UT, where the best of the USA youth fencers competed in the March NAC.
A New Experience
For most of our fencers this was their first ever NAC, and they were able to experience a lot of things for the first time – from discipline around organization, strict following of the protocol by the referees, the large size of the competition and of course their chance to meet new opponents with so many different styles and skills.
For our fencers it was a fantastic tournament, resulting in many medals, top placements, new ratings and national points.
But for me the most important was not medals, ratings or points.
The most important was seeing the kids in action, seeing how they are growing in fencing and in competition. This comes first of all from the individual perspective, seeing them interacting among themselves and with others, seeing how they have learned to handle their nerves and emotions, and then how they are able to overcome their doubts and fears, and finally how they are growing as athletes and individuals.
I was proud to see the team camaraderie. I was proud to see our fencers supporting and cheering each other on and hugging each other when an unfortunate event crossed their paths in DE’s. It was a team first and foremost, a team of young people that started their growth together, a team that hopefully will go together for many years to come, long after the club and the fencing.
These are the things that I liked the most.
We received a lot of compliments about how it this competition went, how the kids were, how the coaches were, etc. We also had a great team dinner with more than 50 people (!) participating – check out this great picture! It was awesome.
Here we’d like to share a bit of the feedback that we got from one family. For me what’s most powerful and exciting is to hear what families have to say about all of this! Because at the end of the day, that’s who we do it all for. We don’t share this to pat ourselves on the back, but to really showcase what this kind of competition means to our fencers and their families.
Here’s an email that we got from the mom of one of our competitors.
Hi Irina and Igor,
What a wonderful weekend. It started with a 2nd place for the Y14 team. The game was sooooo close. Nail biting. Opposition team had a strong team with higher ratings but our girls fought hard and didn’t give up.
Great great achievement for the girls and our club!!!
It was so nice to have AFM family dinner on Saturday night. It was good to see other parents, who are in the same boat as us. We definitely missed Irina and coach Alexander at the dinner.
We were so wound up in the fencing world at Salt Lake City that it’s hard to get back to reality now.
A special shout out to the coaches. Coach Nastya and Coach Vil were amazing. Always ready to help with a BIG smile. Of course, coach Igor’s positive and upbeat attitude was contagious.
Lastly Sonia’s 2nd place win on the last day was (the) cherry on the top.
As you can see, I can go on forever about how good the weekend was. All thanks to the AFM family.
The time that is spent at these large competitions like the March NAC is time to make memories and to watch and support our young fencers as they test themselves on the strip. This weekend proved to be a touchstone for many of our fencers and their families, a first foray into the world of competition that will leave a lasting impression.
Thank you so much to the families who attended, to the organizers and to the sport of fencing itself. I am so proud of our fencers!
Just as those of us who have been around this sport for a while find ourselves recalling our first competitions decades later, so too will these fencers one day reminisce about their own experiences. It was our privilege to be able to participate and in some small way facilitate those experiences.
March NAC Major Accomplishments
And of course, there were medals and achievements. This is a good place to summarize major accomplishments.
● Y14 Women’s Epee Team (Sonia Bulavko, Ria Jobalia, Andrea Leang, Priscilla Leang):
- Silver Medal, losing the bout to New York Fencing Academy by a single touch 44:43
● Y14 Women’s Epee:
- Sonia Bulavko – Silver Medal
● Y12 Men’s Epee:
- Bartosz Kuligowski – medalled with 5th place
- Sanil Sharma (14th) and Neil Van Eikema Hommes (16th) – both finished in the top 16, both earned national points
- Jasha Shur and William Elloway – top 32 finish, both earned national points
● Y10 Women’s Epee:
- Natalie Gebala – medalled with 8th place
- Leehi Machulsky (11th) and Noya Chirashnya (13th) – both finished in the top 16, both earned national points
● Division 2 Women’s Epee:
- Sonia Bulavko – medalled with 5th place
- Ria Jobalia – 9th
● Y10 Men’s Foil:
- Adam Chirashnya – top 32 finish, earned national points
● Y12 Men’s Foil:
- Connor Mao – top 32 finish, earned national points
● Y14 Men’s Foil:
- Adrian Ma – top 16 finish, earned national points
● Y10 Women’s Foil:
- Erika Castaneda – top 16 finish, earned national points
These results aren’t just about dots on a page, they represent hours and hours of hard work, sweat and family support. So many times we see these bullet points and see them as only that, lists of results. For fencers and families who have been there, they represent so much more. And we’re thankful for that so much.