Nerd Sports

May 6, 2016

So for the opening of the Belegarth site and the new blogs that are to appear here – I figured I’d do something a little different for an opening post, I thought I’d share something a little personal: How foam fighting helped me grow as a person, and how I think it has something to teach anyone who wants to get serious in our society.

First, a little bit about me. I started playing nearly 20 years ago in a game called Amtgard, and I still play that along with being an active member of Belegarth. I came into belegarth just a few years ago and this is a part of that story.

Like many who join our sport, I was your typical nerd. Weekends for me were spent playing Dungeons and Dragons (or some other RPG) and drinking A LOT of Mountain Dew. The popular thing was never all that important to me, and sports in high school was definitely out of the question.

This was something, growing up, that my Dad really never understood. He thought sports were an important part of growing up. Quite often he’d test my interest in trying out for something. Now, I get that was trying to push me into an outlet that would (as he perceived it) be a lot more positive than the fantasy worlds I appeared to be wrapped up in.

Then, when I was 18, I ran into some folks who had started up a foam fighting park. It a club similar to Belegarth: Dress up in garb on the weekends. Hit people with sticks. Remembering the fun of playing with fake swords as a kid, I was instantly curious.

Now, remember what I said about never doing sports? Yeah. So the amount of athletic skill I had was nonexistent. In a very physical game where the learning curve can already be very steep, talent was NOT one of the things I had going for me. My first week out I got beat into the ground. My second week was pretty much like that as well…. (just repeat for 6 months to a year). Each week however, I’d keep coming out. I had made a bunch of friends, and no matter how bad I was, I wanted to get better. I was having fun.

Fast forward several years later. I’ve become a much better fighter. Seeing me in a line battle, would cause the other team to strengthen up their flank just to deal with me (always a good feeling). The tournaments I wasn’t winning, I was at least holding my own against fighters that I looked up to and respected.

But that’s not all.

I was also helping to organize. Volunteering for leadership positions, organizing campouts and events, and even renewing the club’s tax status as a non-profit. I realized somewhere along the way that there had been a shift.

I had gained a great deal of confidence in myself that wasn’t there before. This was from taking part in an organization that I loved and I wanted to see grow. It occurred naturally.

Going back to my dad was trying to teach me: Sports are important, and they teach you a bunch of valuable lessons. Among those are: The other team gets a vote. When you lose, train harder. You can’t win a line battle on your own – and you must rely on a certain amount of communication and trust (your realm and unit are key to making this happen). Oh yeah, and when you lose? Train harder. Learning these lessons and building on them, provided me with an overall confidence that helped me in life, my work, and working with people. Looks like my dad was right.

Now – for me, I was probably putting in a lot more time and work into the club than most people, and that’s sort of the point here. Belegarth has a lot to offer. You’ll get out of it exactly what you put into it. Even if you’re brand new, and have no idea what you have to offer your realm, give it time. If you love it, you’ll find your niche.

By Squire Downfall