Friday, September 23, 2016

A Weapon In Her Hand

At least I have a weapon in my hand
a command
and my men with me.    -Hamilton

I'm sharing this story with permission.

So my daughter has long had a fascination for old weapons. When we go to historical places, which is often, I can't drag her away from the armoury. Especially the swords. This summer in Switzerland, at Chillon Castle, she was cooing over a sword for sale in the gift shop with such enthusiasm that we considered buying it for her, and mostly only didn't because we could not figure out how one would get such a thing through airport security.

So I wasn't surprised that for her college PE class she chose fencing. She has to take PE for six out of the first 8 quarters of her college career.  She liked fencing immediately even though they started with footwork, no weapons. I could hear the enthusiasm in her voice.

Now my son's college has a Division 1 varsity women's fencing team that recruits world-wide. It's a place for serious hardcore fencers; they have former and future Olympians on their team. My daughter, on the other hand, goes to a small school with Division III teams--no athletic scholarships. Which turns out to be cool for her because on her fourth day of fencing class she was invited to join the varsity team.

My daughter is already engaged in a few extracurricular activities. Fencing practice will add upwards of 10 hours per week to her schedule, plus she'll be expected to work out on weekends. She wants to get good grades. She's trying to figure out college. And she thought fencing sounded fun, but course she hasn't actually fenced yet, just learned how to move her feet and wave a sword around.

I'm all about trying out weird things in college, because it's such an opportunity for adventure. My son took painting and a class on the anthropology of sports. My husband excelled at pottery. I was a chemistry major who ended up in a children's lit class that changed my life, plus I learned to ride horses in college and have ridden from then on.

My daughter went to the fencing coach and said she was interested, but also a little concerned about keeping all her life together. He said he understood. He said if she joined the team he expected at least a full semester commitment--no backing out next week. Then he said, "I know right now as a freshman it feels like you're lost in a scary forest. And now I'm showing you a doorway in the middle of the forest that's filled with weird blue light. And I'm telling you to walk into the light even though you can't see what's on the other side. But on the other hand, I can promise you that you'll come out with a weapon in your hand and you'll have been trained to use it. So that's cool."

As my daughter said, it was the perfect answer to get her on the team.