Our club’s pivot in 2020 will continue in 2021. At this time we are both looking back and looking ahead and we especially want to thank our supporters. We offer a collective nod of support to other coaches and clubs as many of us are still continuing to adapt and find ways to move forward.
The Rough Stuff
Team development has been disrupted. We lost our dedicated space. We can’t compete; this season is a goner. Next season will most likely look different too. The vaccine distribution offers great hope and many of us are waiting for things to return to the way things were. We continue to feel the impact of a pandemic-forced transition that we don’t yet know when it will end nor understand how it will impact our world long term.
Since we can’t compete, Mid-South has used this time to nurture other values that support our whole community. We have started to re-envision what a strong competitive sport community with limited travel opportunities looks like and have been looking inside our community more in order to build up our resources. We anticipate our investment in each other will make competition all the more sweet when we are able to return safely. We also want to set in place competition structures that don’t require huge resources associated with national travel.
We launched our first online courses this year. Video classes and online coaching are possible and can be successful. Once we were able to return to in-person activities this fall, our outside, make-shift facility on the concourse side of the Durham Bulls’ Stadium has proven to be perfect for fencing during a pandemic. Not ideal for fencing, but ideal for us, right now. The team has shown such great resilience processing loss and grief. The reward is seeing smiling faces and the expression of gratitude in ways that keep us going and motivate us to move on to our next evolution.
For Mid-South Fencers’ Club, the pandemic is forcing us to look far ahead. Time has been the Trickster of the 2020. We faced what we thought was a temporary closing of our 6,000 sq. ft. facility right after returning from a World Cup in Athens, March 2020. Two weeks became two months, and before we knew it, we were facing new realities of a drastic business model adjustments to keep our team intact.
Our national coaching connections have been invaluable in helping us determine how to move forward. WFencing formed. This national organization is working to remediate some grave discrepancies between professional women and men in the sport fencing world. Read The Report Card and if you are so called, donate to WFencing today. This has been Coach Jen and Coach Cathleen’s “Covid Project.”
We’ve networked locally too. We appreciate the support of the Durham Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Durham, Inc., and the Durham Sports Commission. We’ve gotten involved in a subgroup focusing on our collective sport communities’ willingness to tackle some social issues Durham still struggles with. We can’t wait to see what this developing group brings our city.
Fencers are used to being tried and tested. 2020 was hard, but not crushing; we made hard decisions with our whole community in mind and have no requests. We will also be tested in 2021, but in very different ways as we work to steer fencing in North Carolina in a new direction.
We’ve been awed by our local and national community support. We are asking for your help as we visualize what fencing in North Carolina could be. We need boots on the ground type people who want to build a long-term, dedicated fencing facility managed by fencers for fencers. We’ve already done a lot of the leg work. Next we need decision makers as our ‘open eyes attack’ reveals choices which will long outlive Mid-South Fencers’ Club. The hope is this project will be a true collaboration of like-minded fencing enthusiasts — a community investment in fencing, and in each other.
We cannot thank our community enough for sticking with us, believing in our ability, even when the vision wasn’t so clear. Resiliency is key to becoming a champion. We strive to model this for Durham, North Carolina, USA Fencing, but mostly for our athletes who will face obstacles in their future. We wouldn’t be here without you! You are what has kept us going and will make us stronger in 2021. With gratitude, we thank you.
If you are so inspired to be involved in moving NC fencing forward in some way, please fill out this contact form and Happy New Year!