I hate Reno. Ever since I fenced there for an NAC back in 2005 (ish), I didn't like the place. Gambling without excitement, resort hotels without glitz, and food without taste. Reno is Vegas if Vegas was awful. But with some persuasion I fenced team for my home club. While there I noticed some things.
1.) The kiddie fencers (ages 8-13) are really good. Years ago, even at Nationals it was basically whack-a-mole in all three weapons. No more. Some of those kids might embarrass some adults in the Georgia Division.
2.) Mental toughness, not technical strength, seems to rule the day. I still haven't seen anyone beat with superior blade work - just a willingness to risk it all.
3.) Holding off an opposing fencer in team is a lot harder than it looks. It is not often I get smoked like a cigar, but yeah that happened. Worst bout ever. Next time as captain I won't be so swift to sub myself into the match.
4.) The old school guys and gals still make a big deal about who they acknowledge and who they don't. Doesn't matter if you've had a conversation, shared a drink, or the guy sat on your certification board - if you haven't been around for 20 years you get no head nod, much less a handshake.
5.) Fencing still captures the imagination. Whether you've fenced for years, or only seen it in car commercials - it gets your attention. Random folks watched me give a lesson in the hallway, fencers got stopped in elevators by older gamblers - it excites and still has potential to grow.
6.) Pork Stew at the Grand Sierra Resort Buffet. It is good. I turned down chili for this stuff, and I love chili. Best thing I ate the entire trip. Meaty, hearty, with large crisp vegetables and chunks of pork loin. Get it, and get some more.
7.) One more note on food. If you won't eat it after it sat in a room temperature kitchen overnight, you shouldn't eat it before you fence. A lot of my club mates went down with stomach problems after sampling the seafood. Not worth it.