Monica Roberts

Escape From Louisville

Filed By Monica Roberts | March 08, 2008 11:55 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: African-American, fencing tournaments, GLBT, Monica Roberts, Monica's Road Trips, sports, transgender

As many of you who've been monitoring the progress of the winter storm that's been shellacking the Ohio River Valley this weekend know, Louisville got whacked with a foot of snow.

But yours truly wasn't here to watch all the fun. I took a road trip to Chicago.

Actually, there was a reason for my seeming madness. I hit the road with Dawn Wilson early Friday morning to watch her fence in the North American Cup tournament in Chicago. Dawn is a competitve fencer and has been doing it for four years. She knows I love a good road trip, so I tag along to watch her when my schedule allows.

Dawn's no slouch as a saber fencer. In Vet 40 she was ranked number 16 in the nation and 24th in the combined rankings before we hit I-65 north for this event . She was eager to continue her push to the top of the Veteran's rankings in this tournament being held at the Rosemont Convention Center.

I had to work until 7 AM EST, so when my shift was mercifully over I headed straight home to finish packing. As I was driving home from the airport area, the first flurries were starting. By the time I'd gotten home, packed, and put my bags in the car, those flurries had rapidly changed into large, wet flakes.

Dawn was on her computer getting directions to our hotel in Rosemont. Usually she's badgering me to get moving because I'm the slowpoke when it comes to starting our road trips in a timely manner. This time she was the one holding up progress. I looked out the living room window at 8 AM and noticed the two inches of accumulated snow on my car. I'd only had it parked in the driveway for 20 minutes, so I knew we had to get moving soon or else we risked getting trapped in town.

We finally got moving northward ten minutes later and were dogged by snow and high winds all the way to Indianapolis. (Sorry, Bil, we'll catch ya next time). Once we got to the northwest side of Indy, we broke into brilliant sunshine for the rest of our 165 mile run to Chicagoland through the picturesque northwest Indiana farm country. We arrived in Chicago about 1 PM CST and got her fencing equipment inspected after checking into our hotel which was right across the street from the venue .

After we finished, we walked around the center and ran into her LFC teammate Lou Felty and a few of Dawn's Vet 40 fencing buddies. They discussed the 'Baby Vets' nickname some of the Vet 50 fencers jokingly gave them. You have to be 40 to compete in the Veterans division and some of them just recently passed that milestone birthday.

But many of these Vet 50's aren't laughing tonight. A 'Baby Vet' won it, and Dawn and the rest of the 'Baby Vets' served notice with the beatdowns they adminstered that they were forces to be reckoned with in the Veterans Women's Saber Division.

Dawn and the 'Baby Vets' are part of the over 90,000 people in the United States that participate in this fast-paced Olympic sport. They range in age from 12 to 70 and some of those participants are also GLBT people as well. Even though I'm not a fencer, since I'm an FOD (friend of Dawn's) and have been to numerous tournaments with her, they show me just as much love as they show her in the fencing world.

Dawn's competition started at 7 AM CST this morning, so I decided to stay in bed for an extra two hours before checking out of our room since I'd been up a grand total of 32 hours since Thursday.

I woke up to Chicago being dusted with 2 inches of snow. By the time I sauntered over to the convention center, her pool bouts were over. She'd gone 5-1 in her pool and received a bye into the direct eliminations. She got through her first two DE matches before losing her third one 10-5 and missing out on a medal. After hanging around to watch the gold medal match and the medal ceremony, we headed back to Louisville.

Once again, just as we did on the trip up, we ran in and out of snow all the way to Indy, then had a clean 100 mile run to Louisville. Fortunately our driveway had been cleared when we arrived home at 7 PM EST since we weren't looking forward to shovelling 12 inches of show.

What Dawn is looking forward to is an upcoming July trip to San Jose, CA for the Summer Nationals. I'm just looking forward to the next time I get to hit the road.

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A joy o read Monica, thanks and happy trails!!

I wish I'd have known you were up this way; I'd have tried to convince you to take the long way to (or back from) Chicago: thru the Quad Cities. I could have introduced all y'all to everyone at Case de la Kat (Rock Island County edition.)

Kat, we almost ended up heading your way briefly. While paying a toll on the Tri-State several cars refused to let me over and I almost ended up on I-80 west.

We'll probably be back in Chicago for another tournament soon.

Kelly, glad you enjoyed it. The points I wanted to make by writing this is that there's life after transition, and that we transpeople are our own best ambassadors.

They way we treat people, interact with them in various situations, et cetera will do more to help us win our rights than any lobby trip I take to DC. (although those are important as well)

It's hard to hate someone or believe the Religious Right propaganda about transgender people when you know one, are related to one or have one in your life as a friend.

I know I am in jeopardy of being self promoting on a comment, but I need to say this to you.
Ever since I began to read blogs in 07(I'm a newbie)you have always stood out for your integrity(a ultra valuable trait) and just plain lovely writing. I am A fan, and as a Caucasian vet. who served with and admired people of color,
I feel honored that you would include the GLBT struggle with the struggle peeps of color endured.
It's to that end(here comes the self promotion) I have become involved with SoulForce. If you get a chance check me at my link. If you were to take interest in and write about our endevours it would be a wonderful thing. Happy Trails Monica !

What? You skipped stopping by? On the way home too?!?


High winds on I-65 south of Indy? Naw. It's always like that. Jerame's parents live in southern Indiana so I'm used to the drive - that wind'll blow you all over the interstate on certain days.

Next time though - you owe me a visit. :)

"...we transpeople are our own best ambassadors...."

How very true this is, but all too often we forget it.

We have a chance to educate people every day just by being cheerful and successful. If they know, fine. If they don't fine. We really don't even have to say a word sometimes to be able to teach someone. Some day it won't matter.

Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.