Gratitude and the Fellowship of the Sword

You may remember that I quit this sport.

Well, on Friday this past week, in Dallas at the USFA Summer National Championships, I finished 5th in Veteran Women's 50-59 Foil, which with my other two results from this competition year (6th-place Finalist at the December 2015 NAC in Baltimore, and Silver Medalist at the April 2016 NAC in Richmond), enabled me to qualify as a member of the USA Foil Team for the 2016 Veteran World Championships this October in Germany.

I'll wait for you to get up from off the floor. Laughter is always good medicine.

I should probably write some more about how I came back from quitting and what it has been like since I did. But for now, I need to say, "Thank you."

Success is not something that happens without friends. I had no idea when I started fencing thirteen years ago more or less to the day that this journey would be as challenging as it has been. I would not be the fencer I am now without years and years of others' love and support.

Thank you to my coaches, Bakhyt Abdikulov and Peter Habala, for sharing with me their love of our sport, for training me, encouraging me, sticking with me even when I wasn't the easier fencer to coach.

Thank you to my club mates, especially Ed Kaihatsu, Marie Angkuw, Neal White, and Victor Pisman, my fellow veteran fencers and stalwart training partners, for all the bouts, hugs, encouragement, and friendship.

Thank you to my tournament room mates, Lynn Botelho, Sara Nash, and Rebecca Schneider, who have been there for me in both joy and frustration, bought me drinks to celebrate the victories and let me cry, and cry, and cry when there was nothing else I could do.

Thank you to all my fellow Veteran fencers, who have taught me more than I can say about sticking with our sport even when it felt most difficult, who have modeled good sportsmanship and determination for each other under pressures only those who have met each other on the strip can know, who have been there at the competitions year after year so that we could all hone our skills together. Ladies, you rock!

Above all, of course, thank you to my family, my husband JP Brown, who has coached me through more tearful conversations over the phone than either of us can recall; my son Rush Brown, who began the journey as a fencer with me when he was only seven and was with me at the tournaments through my childhood as a Fencing Bear; my mother, who always watches out for me when I travel and makes sure I know she is there rooting for me; my brother and fellow athlete, who has shared with me his love of competition and mindfulness in sport. I would thank my father, too, and hope he is proud of his daughter for not giving up, just as he never gave up on me.

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