On guard, Ready? Fence!

“On guard. Ready? Fence!”

By Anthony Diller
 
With those four words, I was introduced to the sport of fencing. I had no idea that over the coming months I would develop a real passion for what looked like at the time a bunch of kids poking each other with metal rods. I never knew that I would be waiting all week just to go to a local Boy Scout meeting hall for a few hours and practice the art.
 
  
That first night is what took me in. I remember walking in wearing a hoodie and jeans, feeling as nervous and awkward as any thirteen year old kid ever has. The first thing I saw almost knocked me down: A guy with a wire screen mask tipped back on his head, a long sleeved white jacket, and a vest that looked straight out of an alien horror flick walking toward me with a sword in his hand!
 
 
I froze for a minute, not quite sure whether to run or stand and shake. The man introduced himself to me as Coach Matt Hite, and explained he was the fencing coach. He told me that I was more than welcome to mix around with the fencers and see if I was interested in fencing.
 
 
There wasn’t much time to drift. Before I even knew it I was standing in line doing warm-ups with the rest of the group, trying to follow their footwork and hold my hand behind my back. About twenty minutes before the end of class, I managed to get a mask and sword and step onto the strip. Matt explained that the first of us to reach five points was the winner. Needless to say, I didn’t last long. At the end of the night, Thomas, another fencer, asked if I was planning on coming back the next week. “Try to stop me!”
 
 
From that point on, I was obsessed with the sport, the competition, and the atmosphere of honor and respect within the fencing community. I learned many things about both fencing and myself. The hours of practice on footwork and sword technique increased my physical health; the hours spent sparring with friends helped me keep busy and out of trouble; and class gave me something to look forward to during the week.
 
 
But what stood out above all of that was something that I was taught on that very first night. In the sport of “physical chess,” two fencers step onto the strip; a tiny little battlefield where they’ll test themselves against each other physically as well as mentally. But there’s no resentment, no anger, no trash-talking. The fencers step on, test their weapons, and then proceed to their ends. Before you are allowed to put on your mask or take your stance, you have to salute your opponent with your sword. When the battle’s over, the very first thing you do is salute again, remove your mask and shake your opponent’s hand, usually congratulating each other on a good bout. It’s something you won’t find in any other sport.
 
 
Young people today are faced with challenges unique to their generation. They need to be supported in every way possible to make good choices and be able to stand behind those choices; and they need to know they’re not the only one making those good choices. The AAYC is a safe haven for these young folks. It is run by individuals who all have the same dedication and genuine care for seeing the people who walk through the door succeed in life. They’re doing a lot of good in a lot of lives through their clubs and community service. That’s something that we should ALL get behind!
 
 
I drifted away from fencing in high school, but the values it taught me have stuck with me all through the years, and I will be forever grateful to the Hite brothers for teaching me the sport and it’s core values, as well as to my parents, who made sure I never forgot those values and supported me to follow my goals and to never stop until they were reached.
 
 
I would encourage anyone and everyone to bring your kids out to the AAYC, and to support them in any way you can, because they are doing a HUGE good.
 
 
Anthony DillerWritten by Anthony Diller  anthonypdiller@gmail.com
Advertisements

The Youth of Today

The Youth of Today

 

We have all heard it, “The youth of today…” fill in the blank, it has been said. The most common I hear is this: “The youth of today have no ambition”. People can talk all they want to about the youth of today, but all they are doing is just that, talking. In order for things to change, something must be done, something for Amarillo’s youth. When AAYC opened their doors many youth saw it as a place they could go to have fun and be safe. A place where they could go and learn something new and get to know other people who they may not have ever met.

I participated in several community service events at the AAYC in order to get into the program I wanted to for college, and I worked with several people who were there for other reasons. We were expected to respect each other and get along, which was not hard because when it came down to it, we were all kids needing something this program had to offer. These times taught me a lot about the other kids, some did not have access to food and some did not have goals once they got out of high school. I saw several occasions the staff making sure these kids had food and talking to them about college admissions. Looking back at it now, I am glad this program was able to go above an beyond for the kids that needed it.

The program I was most involved in as a teenager was the fencing program. I started in the program when I was in middle school and continued it as it changed into the AAYC program. The idea of fencing brings many ideas to mind: from using pickets and nails to the older form of fencing. The AAYC offers the modern Olympic style classes one night a week, but what most do not realize, it teaches you more than swordplay.

During my years in the program I was taught how to work in a team; relying on others and having others rely on me for our success. Even though fencing is an individual sport, having others there to support you and guide you is important, even if it is to hand you a bottle of water.

I learned what sportsmanship is about. In fencing you can loose over and over, and still move on to the elimination rounds. What I found unique about fencing is the level of respect that is asked win or loose. You salute each other and the referee each bout and you shake hands at the end. After a loss it was not uncommon for your opponent to coach you in what you should have done. I don’t know of any other sport where your opponent will help improve your skills.

As for ambition, I learned what it was going to take to succeed and I worked towards it. I was not aiming to be an Olympic level fencer, but rather someone who was enjoying something they loved.

Though I am no longer involved fully with the fencing program, its lessons will always stick with me. Think before you act, follow the rules or you will injure yourself, be there for your team and most of all work towards your goals. This program is here to serve the youth of Amarillo and guide them to being the best person that they can be. The AAYC has had an impact on my current life, leading me to currently working on my masters degree so I too can work with children who are needing someone that they know is there for them, just as I have seen this program do.

carajohnson1      This blog post was written By Cara Johnson cljohnson8952@gmail.com

Fencers Qualify for Junior Olympics AGN 12/21/2005

Article from Amarillo Globe News

http://amarillo.com/stories/122105/fri_3452634.shtml#.VV9dPk_BzGd

Amarillo Globe-News

Amarillo’s youth fencers took to the strip Dec. 3 for the chance to qualify for the 2006 United States Fencing Association National Junior Olympic Championships in February at Hartford, Conn.

Twenty competitors from four clubs in the Texas Plains Division competed in the event at Fannin Middle School. Fencers from Amarillo College, Double T Fencing at Texas Tech University, Fannin Middle School and High Plains Fencing clashed in an attempt to qualify for the Junior Olympics. Half of the competitors made the cut for Hartford.

Qualifying in Cadet (under 17) Men’s Foil are Jeremy Bauman, Amarillo College Fencing Association; Anthony Diller, High Plains Fencing; and Erik Evans, ACFA. Bauman also qualified for Cadet Men’s Epee.

Qualifying for Cadet Women’s Foil, Junior Women’s Foil and Junior Women’s Epee are Juleah Nusz, ACFA; Erin Weber, ACFA; and Caitlin Carroll, ACFA. Nusz and Carroll also qualified for Cadet Women’s Epee.

Qualifying for Junior Men’s Foil are Danny Tickner, ACFA; Cole Wrampelmeier, ACFA; Michael Blank, ACFA; and Noah Burner, ACFA. Tickner, Wrampelmeier and Burner also qualified for Junior Men’s Epee.

Qualifying for Junior Men’s Sabre are Michael Blank, ACFA; and Wrampelmeir, who also qualified for Cadet Men’s Sabre.

Interested in getting involved with fencing? Visit WWW.ACTX.EDU or WWW.HPFENCING.COM or call Matt Hite at 358-9942.

Aimee Nusz of Amarillo College Fencing Association and Matt Hite of High Plains Fencing and Fannin Fencing team contributed to this report.