March travel plans with a 17y.o. fencing phenom

Melensdad

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Leaving for Milwaukee this afternoon. I've got 5 of 'my kids' fencing in the North American Challenge this weekend.

Kevin & Mateo compete in Mens Junior Saber today.

Dasha & Lexi compete Women's Junior Saber on Saturday.

Dominic competes in Men's Junior Epee on Monday.

The "junior" category is among the most competitive in the US as many of our top NCAA collegiate fencers, some of our US National Team members, Olympic Team members, etc. So odds of any of these kids finishing in the medals is slim. Dasha has potential to finish in the "Top 32" but it will be tough to get that high. Dominic, fencing Epee, has the potential to get higher up than the other boys but I don't expect him to be in the Top 32.
 

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Melensdad

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Dominic is fencing his epee pool bouts now.

Kevin and Mateo did about as well as expected, which was not great. This is an amazingly tough event.

Lexi made it into the DE rounds but lost her first DE bout, which was also expected, she is determined and I give her huge credit for that. Dasha advanced to the 2nd round but was taken down by a girl who simply was better. Dasha fenced well, no major mistakes, very few minor mistakes. Her competitor was ranked higher and was just better.

On the bright side I did spend some time with the ND coach and he asked for more info from her and has money for her. She has already sent what he requested. UNC-Chapel Hill watched her fence, spoke with her after the event and is interested.

We got to see our 'adopted' daughter again, so that was good. We all got a lovely dinner at THE ODD DUCK restaurant in Milwaukee and I can highly recommend it. But it is loud and trendy. Still the food was excellent and prices very reasonable. She is confused about universities and the whole American process of acceptance and aid. I understand that, especially given that she is getting comments/advice from many sources.
 

Melensdad

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Don just got knocked out of the competition. But he and I go to Peoria next weekend for another event.

Pictures so far...

Kevin fencing men’s saber

Dasha at the airport

Lexi in women’s saber

Dasha With us and in woman’s saber
 

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Melensdad

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Just an update on this.

I still communicate with Dasha most every day. Over the past week+ its been a constant stream as she has needed help with some of her high school finals and also she has been finishing up her college admissions.

Yesterday I was contacted by a top college coach (NCAA multi year champion) and was told that he didn't need my letter of recommendation. He had already gotten her cleared with the admissions and financial aid offices. She's just a formality now, her paperwork will clear and she will be in with a generous package.

2 days ago the coach at another top college with nearly as impressive a record indicated that she will be sending admissions a letter on Dasha's behalf for admissions (no mention to me of scholarship $).

I don't know most of the top NCAA coaches well enough to get messages like this, but these 2 schools are in Dasha's top 5 choices. I doubt any other school coach will preemptively contact me with information about her. This is all 'unofficial' as a coach cannot definitively say that a student is in, nor can a coach promise $, but typically if a coach is talking to another coach, and says it plainly and clearly, then its a done deal and the admissions and financial departments have already approved it.

Both of these schools are elite universities, she will get the best education possible if she chooses either of them. Both have elite level fencing programs, she will get the best possible fencing if she chooses either of them.

Again, no guarantee, all unofficial, but these are very good signs indeed :applause:
 

Melensdad

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Dasha begins the Junior Women’s Saber event in Charlotte, NC in a few minutes. She is currently ranked 55th in the nation in this division and 49th going into this morning’s event.

I’m not with her today. Didn’t plan to be there. We are all sad about that. But Melen needs to be moved home from San Jose and Marcia & Mel are in CA. I’m home to attend my aunt’s funeral today. I’ll meet up with Marcia & Mel in Bloomington at her IU apartment.

This is the last major event in the US for Dasha that the college coaches will see. Last chance to impress. I’m holding out hope for a Top 32 finish but Top 64 is realistic. Tough field. Biggest event nationally and most of the US National Team (minus our US Olympic squad) will be fencing today.

Monday she competes again, but it is an Open event in Division 1 so she will also face our US Olympians, former Olympians, etc. she is currently seeded 67th for that tougher event.

None of my other fencers are at this event. Dominic, my A rated Epeeist will compete next month in the Junior Olympics.

Photo added for fun, it’s from New Years Eve (she got her nose pierced)
 

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Melensdad

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...

This is the last major event in the US for Dasha that the college coaches will see. Last chance to impress. I’m holding out hope for a Top 32 finish but Top 64 is realistic. Tough field. Biggest event nationally and most of the US National Team (minus our US Olympic squad) will be fencing today.

...

TOP 32 FINISH TODAY :clap:

Came in 29th. She will move up the national rankings, she went in 55th. This is good for a nice little bump. More college coaches approached her today too. A coach friend of mine was watching her for me, he said she was relaxed, in control and fenced with grace. Dasha told me she felt good about her fencing today.

Photo below taken just before she destroyed a girl 15-3 in a direct elimination bout.

I have to say I'm thrilled with a Top 32 finish. It's a major achievement. Monday will be tougher competition. Basically the same people as today, but add in our Olympic team and more members of our US National team and more top NCAA fencers too. A top 32 in Monday's event would be even more astounding but I'm not going to get my hopes up.
 

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Melensdad

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So for those who have been following along, Dasha is now living in a suburb of Boston. She stays in contact with me and has traveled with my family this season to events. We were planning to travel together to the big April fencing event in St Louis ... but all the events are cancelled/postponed until further notice.

Dasha has another problem. Her student visa expires in a couple months. While her mom is from the Ukraine and lives there, Dasha's citizenship is Russian. Her parents divorced the year before Dasha moved to the USA and then her mom moved from Russia back to her family in the Ukraine.

Trying to untangle this mess from afar but it appears that the US State Department is anticipating problems like this and is prepared to extend student visa. At this time we simply don't know the process to request the extension.

Our concern is that if she flies back to Moscow, which she has had to do in the past to renew her visa, she will then not be allowed back into the USA because of the Covid-19 travel restrictions. At this point I am advising her mother to keep her in the USA. She has already been accepted to the University of NOTRE DAME and I think it's harder to find a kid and kick them out than it is to deny entry to a foreigner who is not on our soil. With any luck we can get this all figured out well in advance and it won't become a problem. Just don't want to wait until the last minute.
 
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