Vail musician Don Watson pursuing U.S. Fencing team
Don Watson has been a musician performing around the Vail Valley for 20 years. At age 63, he’s a staple in Vail, and when he’s not on stage, he’s pursuing his other passion — fencing.
“I got to say it feels good to beat someone half your age,” Watson said, “or a third of your age.”
Watson is competing in U.S. Fencing Association tournaments across the U.S. in the 60-and-older division with aspirations of making the national team that competes in Budapest in July.
He’s expecting to qualify for Team USA with top 16 finishes in upcoming tournaments in Cleveland and Salt Lake City. As part of his pursuit to make the national fencing team, Watson is looking for sponsorships, big and small, to help with his equipment, travel and other expenses.
“It’s a matter of how much can I afford to do,” he said. “I’m a working man. I’m a musician who schleps his own equipment, and I work with the high school kids and fence with the college kids.”
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LOCAL FENCING PROGRAM
Watson and James “Coot” Overcash run the local fencing programs at Battle Mountain and Eagle Valley high schools.
The two helped build the fencing community in Vail over the years, along with help from others.
In 2012, they put Battle Mountain on the national podium at the high school championships. A few years later, the program is self-supported, thanks to the time and effort by Watson and Overcash.
In fencing, there are three types of competition: foil, sabre and epee. Locally, Watson and Overcash use a unique approach to the sport by combining certain aspects of the three weapons.
“There’s a saying that foil is art, sabre is drama and epee is truth,” Watson said.
By starting with epee, those entering the sport for the first time will find more success and joy while learning the basics.
On Saturdays at 11 a.m., there is open fencing at Battle Mountain High School open to all students in Eagle County. Equipment and instruction is supplied. Cost is $12 to join the USFA for insurance purposes. Adults or non-students pay $5. No experience is necessary.
“Come try it,” Watson said. “It’s the one sport that you are genetically predisposed to be able to do — no claws, no teeth; we’ve had to pick up something, and if you weren’t any good at that …”
For more information, contact Watson at 970-470-1420 or follow Vail Valley Fencing on Facebook.
Assistant Editor Ross Leonhart can be reached at 970-748-2984 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Instagram at colorado_livin_on_the_hill.