Fencing attracts WHS athletes

Wu+competes+in+the+Junior+Pan+American+games+

Courtesy Joey Wu

Wu competes in the Junior Pan American games

Molly Ross, Editor

  While many Weston High School athletes compete in winter sports such as basketball, hockey and swimming through school-run programs, several students have chosen the unique path of fencing. Not only have these athletes found a love for this sport very quickly, but they have also found great success.

   Junior Joey Wu, who is relatively new to fencing, has excelled quickly as he recently competed in the Junior Pan American games and finished fifth in men’s Epee.   

   “I have been competing for three years now,” Wu said. “I previously did swimming, but after my mom enrolled me into fencing to try it out, it clicked with me. I started watching videos online of famous fencing matches, and I was captivated and inspired to try harder and improve.”

   There are various styles of fencing that fit different players based on their strengths and weaknesses. These include fence foil, which is one of the three weapons used in the sport of fencing, all of which are metal. The foil is flexible, and weighs under a pound. There is also saber, which is the same weight as the foil, but the foil is a thrusting weapon, while the saber is a cutting and thrusting weapon. Last is epee, which is the largest and heaviest of the three weapons used in the sport and is also used for thrusting.  While Wu has specialized in epee, others at WHS have made different choices.

   “The style I compete in is fence foil because it requires the most precision, and the target is the smallest out of all three,” freshman Josh Sima said. 

   Like Wu, Sima also discovered a love of fencing relatively recently, but he and other fencing students have been introduced to the sport in different ways.

   “I started fencing around four years ago because all the other Asian moms were berating my mom into signing me up, and they said I’d be good because I am pretty tall,” said Sima. “I then went to the club that most of my other friends were going to, which had two Asian coaches who have been teaching me up until now, and they are the reason I have reached the level I am now.”

   Some fencers started playing just to try something new and have found that they really love it. 

   “I was introduced to fencing during a summer sleep-away camp. They had a guest fencing instructor for a couple of weeks, and I signed up for the course since I really didn’t want to play soccer for the hundredth time that week,” said sophomore Ellie Tillman-Schwartz. “It was so unique from any other sport I had done, and I loved how it felt like both a sport and a logic puzzle.”

   Fencing has helped open new doors for other athletes from very young ages. 

   “I’ve been competing since the age of nine; about seven years now,” said sophomore Will Killgallen. “I can remember my first tournament and have had fun [competing] all over the country since then.”

   Fencing is largely an individual sport, so even for the more experienced fencers like Wu, it is not easy to play with a new team, but these athletes are flexible and learn new techniques from their peers while also forming new friendships. 

   “[Being on the Junior PanAm team] was a bit challenging because I had to get along with a bunch of new teammates and fence in a completely different environment. I was impressed by the other people on my team because they were extremely great fencers, who were all nationally ranked across the United States,” said Wu. “This motivated me to try my best in the tournament, which allowed me to finish in fifth place.”

   Not only does Wu admire his teammates, who gave him the motivation to work harder; he is also greatly inspired by a few professional fencers that influence his own play. 

   “Some of my fencing role models are Max Heinzer and Park Sang-young. I admire Park’s speed and methodical approach to fencing, and Max’s flashy moves. These inspire me to play the way that I do,” Wu said.

     As these athletes’ love for fencing continues to grow, they have each made  goals for their future that they will continue to work towards and achieve.

   “My goals for fencing are to improve and get recruited to fence in college,” said Wu. “I really want to continue competing after I graduate high school.”

   These athletes know that their goals are big, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to achieve them. 

   “A big goal for me would be to fence internationally at some point. In order to do this I’d have to train a lot more, but the thought of going somewhere in Europe or anywhere else to fence seems very exciting,” said Killgallen. “I would get to meet kids my age from around the world, as well as knowing they are the best in their country.”

   While Wu and Killgallen hope to compete for some time to come, others see the sport as being about having fun and challenging themselves.

   “My goal in fencing is mainly just to stay active and have fun with friends,” said Tillman-Schwarts. “I think fencing is a great space to relieve stress, since you’re really forced to forget everything about everything else and focus completely on what you’re doing.”