FROM:  Cat Bouwkamp, U.S. Fencing

This weekend I fenced in the North American Cup in Cincinnati, Ohio in all three weapons, epee, foil and sabre. 

Cat wearing her Team USA jacket

I left school early on Thursday to drive over for the training camp that the National Coaches had put together. As the other fencers came in, I saw the same familiar faces and a few new ones as well. Before this competition, I had been the youngest on the national front by 10 years, but a new guy who’s 16 as well came to this competition to try fencing.

After the training, we had to get our equipment checked to make sure it passes all the requirements, so we stood in line for an hour and a half.

That night I went to bed early after watching some NCAA basketball -- GO UK! -- and slept like a baby.

The next morning I got up early to fence in with the guys, since I was the only woman signed up. I was unofficially allowed to fence epee with the men in pools and Direct Eliminations. Pools are set up like a round robin competition, and DE’s are set up as a bracket, where if you lose you’re out. Coming out of pools, I was seeded second out of 10 with all the men. I received a bye through the first round and in the second round beat the first man 15 to 5, and narrowly lost the second bout to two-time Paralympian Mario Rodriguez 15 to 14. I received gold for women since I was the ONLY woman to compete, yay!

The second fencing day was foil and I only went against one other woman and I glided through to get gold with a score of 15 to 2.

That night was a dance marathon back home to raise money for Riley Children’s Hospital.  I had been on the committee for the past year, so my dad drove me the two hour trip home, and I was in and out of the house and shower within 20 minutes to drive to the dance marathon. It was a great night, and we ended up meeting our goal and raising a little more than $20,000 for a great cause.

The next morning Dad and I woke up at 6 to drive 2 hours back to Cincinnati for another day of competition.  That day was sabre, which is my favorite weapon. I watched all the guys fence, and got to hang out and cheer them on. Since there was only one other woman in sabre as well, I won again with a score of 15 to 3.

Overall this weekend was a great success, not only getting to see the guys that I consider my brothers and crazy uncles, but getting in a lot of great practice and competition. In 3 weeks we’ll all meet up again at Nationals in Virginia Beach, VA. I can’t wait!

Today marks 170 days ‘til I fence in London! Good luck to any and everyone in their upcoming trainings and competitions.

Much love,

Cat B

Cat and her coach side by side

PHOTOS from the North American Cup competition, top to bottom: Cat preparing. Cat (left) in the foil match. Cat, with her Saber gold medal, and coach Val Kizik. 


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