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I cannot say about Rob and Connie’s youth fencing program. Our daughter fenced with them for over three years and I firmly believed she learned critical life-long lessons training and competing with SF Youth Fencing.
These lessons have served her well dealing with new environments (we moved to Italy), her school performance, and her determination on the soccer field. Among other things, my daughter learned:
1. Discipline and Commitment. My daughter is very social and she missed events she dearly wanted to go to but couldn’t because of tournaments and practice. Connie and Rob expect the same level of commitment of their kids that compete (and their parents) as they put into it (actually less…Connie and Rob have put their lives into this program!). When my daughter commits to a team or any other endeavor, she understands what it means.
2. Resilience. It’s painful to see your kid lose and get upset, but seeing them grow and get tougher bit by bit is so gratifying. Particularly for girls, it’s great having a role model and professional like Connie who can help the kids so much in this area. Putting kids in an environment where they will inevitably lose, but provides the support to help them pull themselves back and win is invaluable.
3. Self-control. Rob always sets the right expectations for the kids. As they get older and more experienced, he is always pushing the bar higher and higher, as I would expect a coach to do. As a more experienced fencer, my daughter was put on probation by Rob for not shaking hands with her competitor after losing (the match and her self-control). She vividly remembers this important lesson, which I believe will stick with her for the rest of her life.
4. Physical Fitness. My daughter is drawn to athletics now and I believe fitness will be important to her for the rest of her life. She is happy to have sports part of her daily routine.
5. Persistence and effort. Fencing is not easy and requires an enormous amount of training and competition to achieve a high skill level. My daughter learned there is no shortcut to success, only hard work. Her soccer coach in Italy often noted how much more effort she put into drills and training than some of the other kids, and I attribute that to Rob and Connie’s coaching.
Coaching excellence is difficult. You are in the fishbowl being observed by parents and young athletes alike. Rob and Connie are masters at teaching kids not only mastery of fencing, but valuable lessons that will serve them throughout their lives.