Fencing with style and class

Why do you fence? Sure it’s a healthy activity and you like to competition, but why are these things important to you? If we dig deep enough, answers usually float to the surface, simple answers such as: it makes me feel good about myself. It challenges me when I’m board or even “heck, it’s the only way I can make friends”.

Whatever the reason, how we fence is important to achieving this primal goal. The face we project to the world, and our own self identification are best served when in sync. Those folks that only concern themselves with winning, and care not how they win, these folks must surly cheat themselves when it comes to the question of feeling good about themselves.

I’m talking about things like un-sportsman like behavior, taking unfair advantage and even various forms of cheating. Fencing has a tradition as an honorable sport. Yet some of these traditions are fading away, an all to common reflection, of our current society. Each of us has the power however, to make satatement. A touch done with style, grace, and clean athleticism, can become art, a positive reflection on the athlete as a person. Brains over brutality and just plain civility can leave us feeling content that we have achieved our ultimate goal in a way that the “win at all cost crowd” will miss. If we fence with integrity, our reward is there for all to see, regardless of the score.

coach Geoff

Penn State vs Kaidanov

I have been reluctant to write this piece. I actually heard of it before the news broke, I am good friends with Emanuel Kaidanov’s son, Greg. Still, I am reluctant. To the few that have not heard, Mr. Kaidanov was let go by Penn State. A legendary coach with an unprecedented record of success for over 33 years.
As told to me by Greg Kaidanov, a young athlete was suspected of drugs by a athletic department secretary. The police were called, and the young lady spent some time at the police station being questioned and tested. That these police actions were legal, are unclear to me, but let me continue. After this issue had been resolved Mr. Kaidanov spoke to the secretary, and told her to inform him before taking such actions in the future. To be clear, he was not asking the secretary not to call the police, but that he be informed first. The secretary reported this conversation to the “Morale Officer “. Eventually Maestro Kaidanov was interviewed and freely admitted to the conversation with the unnamed secretary.

Some background may be needed here. A prior and truly awful scandal has hung over Penn State. Further, a number of coaches have been leaving Penn State in the last year. These coaches departures have not been directly linked to the Sandusky / Paterno scandal. The number of coaches leaving does raise some interesting questions. There is understandably a change in the campus post scandal atmosphere however, a change that some describe as an over reaction, at least when applied to the Kaidanov case.

I believe that the “sport culture” at Penn State needed some real corrections. I have had this opinion before any scandal and it is not just confined to Penn State. The welfare of students and the integrity of the institution must never come second to any sport. So I am understanding of the universities current stated position. Yet, as I understand the facts, I am of the mind that an injustice has happened on several fronts. An apparently innocent youth, was detained by police, for a rather extended time. It is unclear if she had council, but as described to me, any suspicions the secretary held could have been answered on the scene. I believe this was a police over reaction, but I was not present so…. In my opinion it was the duty of the university to insure the student’s health and welfare were protected. Surely the correct response would be to call the police and notify the appropriate authority in the university, that could include Mr. Kaidanov, and the parents of the student should have been notified immediately. Mr. Kaidanov has long been zero tolerance to drugs, he was not of a predisposition to cover up drug misconduct for the purpose of protecting one athlete. He had no history of protecting students from disciplinary as in prior Penn State scandals. I cannot refute however that his request to the secretary was not in compliance with university policy. Was it really however necessary to fire a legendary coach. Most folks I talk to say this. Yep, he made a mistake, but nothing to warrant such disrespectful end to an exemplary career.

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coach Geoff