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Old 12-06-2018, 07:58 AM
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Exclamation Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournament

Trying to right a wrong that the head fencing coach at school committed against this girl


Long story, some of you have followed my fencing thread, so I have a young fencer named Dasha who is a foreign exchange student from Moscow, Russia. She came to the USA to go to high school with the hopes and dreams of earning a spot on an elite college fencing team. The head coach at the high school SEEMS TO HAVE MISLED this girl into believing that there is a high quality fencing program at the school during the recruiting process.

So we have this girl who is an amazing fencer and I've been doing my best to coach her. She knows my limitations. I've gotten her real coaching from elite coaches/fencers when I can arrange it. She wins everything at the high school level. Literally has a perfect/unbeaten record. Also apparently an "A" student.

None of that is enough to get her onto an elite fencing team at a top university here in the US.
But the coach at the high school apparently believes that is enough. No real coach believes it.

She has no national competitive experience inside the USA and that is necessity. As she is not a US citizen there are only a few national events she can attend to earn those points. Of course her head coach doesn't understand any of this, figured the high school gold medals were good enough. That coach is wrong. There is 1, exactly 1, remaining event that Dasha can attend this season and it happens to be in North Carolina. The event will be held the last couple days of the high school's Christmas break. Dasha was supposed to be in Vienna with her family during this tournament and then flying back to Chicago the last day of break to return to school.

I explained the importance of this tournament. A "real" coach, who is also an international competitor, explained the importance of this event to her. Translated it all to her mom in Russia.

So she got permission to attend but there is a major snag. She had no chaperone for the event, not legal for a minor to check into a hotel room, etc.

The lovely Mrs_Bob said we should take her

Well we are not taking her, but we are meeting her at the airport in Charlotte when she flies in from Vienna, getting her to the hotel, staying with her (different rooms!) and getting her back to Chicago. Its taken a bit of effort to work out all the details, get temporary guardianship over her wellbeing, etc but its all apparently sorted out.

And this is a BIG event. Olympians and National Team members will be competing in the same events. No way that I can coach her at this event. Its so far above my ability that it would be crazy for me to try. Talked to my friend who is a high level coach. He has a conflict and can't coach her. So he is trying to find her a college coach who is willing to coach her, thinks he can arrange that. I hope so. Our goal is to get Dasha into the "top 64" or maybe even "top 32" at this event. That would be nearly monumental for a first time competitor at this event but its the last shot we have for this season. And she needs the points THIS SEASON. College recruiters recruit during students high school JUNIOR year and Dasha is a junior this year.


So if anyone here wants to know how angry I am over this whole situation with the fencing program at the high school, and wants to know how far I'm willing to go to fix a wrong, apparently I'm wiling to travel nearly 1000 miles at my own expense for a kid I've never even had a meal with, who has never even met my wife, heck she has never even seen photos of my dogs, just to try to give a kid the last opportunity that she may have at earning her dream. And following that dream is the ONLY reason she is even at the school where I volunteer coach, and that school misled her.

Oh, and we have NOT told the head coach at the high school about this trip.

The assistant coach is NOT telling the head coach. The assistant coach is also livid over this.

The foreign exchange student program is aware of my involvement. They have all my credentials, proof of background checks, contact info, etc.

But nobody is telling the head coach.
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:04 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Bon, thanks for your concern and actions!
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:10 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Good. I think your doing the right thing here. I wish you, Mrs. Bob have to great experience, and Dasha as well.

It would be so cool if this unknown Dasha were to take the event with a win!
I have always had a soft spot for those with incredible talent that come out from no were, and prove to the world they are in fact the best there is on that day..

Maybe the best analogy is our President....

Most of all I hope the coach that passed her up gets a lesson in life they will never forget..... TO be a coach and miss that would indeed be a life lesson for a closed minded individual, who dissed a talent, and did not take her seriously.

Have a fun trip, and I wish you all the best..

Regards, Kirk
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:25 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

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Originally Posted by 300 H and H View Post
It would be so cool if this unknown Dasha were to take the event with a win!
No chance of a win. She is an amazing high school fencer but she has no real chance of beating the top US national fencers. She is good. But its the big fish in the small pond sort of thing. Team USA has the best fencers in the world ... which is why Dasha came to the USA to learn.

At the event in Charlotte, NC (Jan 4 to Jan 7) there are 2 chances of getting the "national points" she needs to earn. She can get them in the Junior category and also in the Senior category. She paid the entry fees for both categories.

Our goal (me & the 'real' coaches I work with) are just to have her place high enough to earn some points so she gets on the radar of the top NCAA Division 1 schools. It is realistic to think she can finish in the top 64 at this event. That is good enough to get her points.

At this point if that girl can earn those points you will see a grown man weep tears of joy. No reason she should have been put into this corner, she shouldn't have to be trying to fight her way out of it, but she has a really darn good chance of doing so!
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:28 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

You're a good man Bob. :)
Best wishes for Dasha. Let us know how she does.
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:35 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

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You're a good man Bob. :)
Best wishes for Dasha. Let us know how she does.
I"ll 2nd that. Great job Bob and Mrs Bob ...and best wishes to Dasha!!!
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Old 12-06-2018, 08:52 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Well someone had to do this and my life has been blessed enough to put me in a position where I can step up.

I will keep you all posted in January. Probably from the event floor. With photos!
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:16 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2018, 09:56 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Bob, this is a great thing you and Mrs. Bob are doing for that young lady.
I wish her well.
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Old 12-06-2018, 01:58 PM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Well our flights are booked. Got that worked out about an hour ago.

And when I say "our" I mean the Lovely Mrs_Bob, Melen and myself. Melen decided to join us, which is a nice thing so that she & my wife can go shopping or find a museum or something to do while I'm at the tournament during the day with Dasha.

Melen's competition photos still hang on the wall at the fencing club and Dasha has been looking forward to meeting her too. (Dasha is way way better than Melen ever was)
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Old 01-04-2019, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Junior finals.

Dasha won 4, lost 2, finished 3rd in pools with a +2 indicator. Lots of fencing gibberish that means she will advance to the finals.
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Old 01-04-2019, 05:51 PM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Dasha lost in round 2 of the finals. Round one she easily beat her opponent 15-8.

Round 2 was against one of the best fencers in the US. A girl who is a former Olympian, on our US National Team, who won the Cadet World Cup 3 times, and who is obviously ranked higher than Dasha.

Bout was excellent. Dasha came from behind to tie it. They traded touches up to 13-13. Dasha lost the last 2. 15-13 loss against her is nothing to be ashamed of. In fact I was surprised she did so well. Dasha was disappointed. Honestly I don’t that she was fencing her best today. Just seemed off a bit.

We go back tomorrow for the Div 1 competition.

Good news is she did earn some national points today, not many but still got some so that helps. I got the card of the Northwestern coach. Tufts University in Boston is interested, we see him Sunday morning. Hope we undid some of the damage today. I think so.
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Old 01-06-2019, 07:28 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

A former Russian Olympian is here, he is one of the most famous people in Russia so of course I have no f’ing clue who he is. Dasha sees him and gets star struck. Every time we pass on the floor she turns to jello.

So for the totally surreal moment of the day he is coaching a crappy American fencer while I’m a crappy American coach who is coaching an amazing Russian fencer ... he sits down next to me! Dasha is 3’ away on the competitor side of the barrier while I sit with him on the coaches side. So WTF I lean over and say ‘You Russian, yes?’ He replies and I say ‘So is my fencer, she is Russian’ ... I swing my arm out to a tap the arm of my totally oblivious Dasha and introduce her to her hero! They talked in Russian for 10 min, he gave her his contact info and said he could help.

Me, I’m still clueless as to who this guy is! But I snuck a photo!

Oh and she beat his student.
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Old 01-06-2019, 08:45 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Is that Artur Akhmatkhuzin?
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Old 01-06-2019, 10:07 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Nikolai (Nika) Kovalev
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Old 01-06-2019, 11:02 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melensdad View Post
A former Russian Olympian is here, he is one of the most famous people in Russia so of course I have no f’ing clue who he is. Dasha sees him and gets star struck. Every time we pass on the floor she turns to jello.

So for the totally surreal moment of the day he is coaching a crappy American fencer while I’m a crappy American coach who is coaching an amazing Russian fencer ... he sits down next to me! Dasha is 3’ away on the competitor side of the barrier while I sit with him on the coaches side. So WTF I lean over and say ‘You Russian, yes?’ He replies and I say ‘So is my fencer, she is Russian’ ... I swing my arm out to a tap the arm of my totally oblivious Dasha and introduce her to her hero! They talked in Russian for 10 min, he gave her his contact info and said he could help.

Me, I’m still clueless as to who this guy is! But I snuck a photo!

Oh and she beat his student.
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Old 01-07-2019, 07:40 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Dasha earned her national points but was dissatisfied with her results.

We achieved the realistic goals, she got into the “64” both days. Would have been nicer to get into the “32” and on a different day that would be possible but it was not this time.

Northwestern University is interested in her. The directors were chattering about her so her name is now out there. It is a start.
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Old 01-07-2019, 07:48 AM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melensdad View Post
Dasha earned her national points but was dissatisfied with her results.

We achieved the realistic goals, she got into the “64” both days. Would have been nicer to get into the “32” and on a different day that would be possible but it was not this time.

Northwestern University is interested in her. The directors were chattering about her so her name is now out there. It is a start.
Good news!
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:30 PM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

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Dasha was very disappointed in her performance at the North American Cup, I was happy because we achieved what we went to do.

Friday she did not fence well. Sunday she was much better but really wanted to end up higher in the ranks. She was knocked out of the competition by a former US Olympian who is still a top US fencer. The girl who knocked her own won the Silver at the North American Cup on Saturday. That was no consolation for Dasha, she cried a lot.

Next trip in a few weeks ... St Louis. We already committed to take her.

I don't have a lot of action shots of Dasha because I was filming her bouts for review and analysis. In the fencing photos Dasha is wearing the YELLOW shoes. We did have a reasonable amount of free time and our hotel was in the heart of Charlotte so we got to see some fun sights. The balcony of our suite had seating for 10 and could easily hold a party, sadly we didn't have enough time to have a party but it was a nice place to hang out.

The last photo shows Dasha's back, the girl who is partially turned toward the camera is a friend named Rachel, also a very very accomplished young fencer. Both Rachel and Dasha are juniors in high school. The guy with is back to the camera at the left is my friend Charlie Rohrlack, who is one of the best coaches for saber in the midwest. He was at the event as a paid strip coach for Rachel, but he did help Dasha as much as possible and sometimes sent me advice for her by text message. Since he was being paid to be there for Rachel he could not overtly coach Dasha so he managed to help more than people realized.
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Old 01-07-2019, 12:49 PM
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Default Re: Heading to Charlotte, NC in January with a 17 year old girl for a fencing tournam

"She was knocked out of the competition by a former US Olympian who is still a top US fencer."
Losing to a former Olympian doesn't really sound bad to me. Sounds like she had some stiff competition and that should be recognized by scouts.
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