By Jennifer Velasquez
The success of this year’s Varsity Fencing team is transcending previous years. With a relatively new team made up of fewer experienced fencers and more underclassmen, it can be rather difficult for such strong bonds to form so quickly among teammates, but this year’s team has definitely surpassed that challenge.
One of this year’s foil captains, Jodi Yeh, stated, “I think this year’s team is different because we all have great chemistry together. Everyone gets along, and I feel like there is a special connection among everyone.”
For those who are unfamiliar with fencing, it is a traditional sport that requires one to fight his or her opponent by using “Rapier-style” swords; whoever successfully makes contact with his or her opponent first wins the point.
As someone who fences, I can vouch that it is more fun to fence than it is to watch. There’s a reason why fencing is known as the “physical chess” of the Olympics. It isn't a sport that just tests your physical capabilities, it is a sport that also challenges and engages much of the mind. It can be complicated to understand at first, and if you’ve ever seen a fencing match before, without any prior knowledge of the sport, you might have wondered, “Why are these strangely dressed people trying to stab each other with swords?” or “How does someone win if they’re both stabbing each other at the same time?” Trust me, I’ve been there, and I get it. Although I won’t get into every detail, I’ll clarify some of your questions.
Fencing can be a dangerous sport. That is a no brainer. The essence of the sport is to literally stab our opponents first, so we are required to wear certain gear in order to protect our bodies from injuries. That is why all fencers wear beekeeper-like masks, form-fitting white jackets and knickers, and a special glove that protects our fencing hands. However, the gear differentiates from there, depending on which of the three modern types of fencing you practice.
Each of these forms uses different styles of weapons along with different sets of rules. This separates the team into three competitive scenes: Foil, Épée, and Sabre. Since the rules of the sport are not all the same, the way in which one wins points also varies. For example, if both opponents make contact with each other at the same time in a match, the only competitive scene that rewards points for that is Épée, which would give both opponents the point. The key to winning is generally the same; you either attack and stab your opponent first, or you successfully “parry” (deflect) the attack and get him or her back.
So, how is OB’s fencing team doing so far? The Varsity Fencing team’s coach, Mr. Bruckner, stated, “We're at mid-season, and we're showing all the other teams that we are very competitive. We're striving for the top four spots for county in order to make playoffs for the boys and girls teams.”
With the boys having five wins and two losses so far, and the girls having five wins and three loses, we are currently ranked in 4th place. Whatever our rank may be, the fencing team is continually practicing and training very hard to make our school proud.
Jodi Yeh added, “Everyone is eager to get better, and I think this is the most motivated team so far.”
From my experience, I’ve seen many of my fellow teammates get injured at practice or meets; however, they got back up on their feet and gave it their all until the very end. I've personally pushed myself time and time again, inspired by the amazing skills and techniques of my teammates.
Mr. Bruckner praised the talent of his team and revealed, “We have some excellent players on our team. Kate Devereaux and Jodi Yeh, who are both captains of the girls foil team, are some of the top fencers in the county.”
When asked what motivates her, Yeh responded, “I really like the sport itself, and I want to get better. What motivates me is the feeling of accomplishment, yet it also makes me want to work even harder to improve my fencing.”
Fencer Sarah Conway also revealed her thoughts about the team’s camaraderie. “I feel like it's a family environment. Usually a lot of sports are like that, but Fencing is different. We’re closer.”
Decorated in our purple and gold socks, sitting side by side, yelling at the top of our lungs as we cheer on our fellow team members, the other teams shrink in comparison. I can say that I have lost my voice on more than one occasion from proudly cheering on my teammates, but that's because the sport and team are so intense. If you want a place where you can feel like you belong, while experiencing the exhilaration of learning a sport that continually pushes you both physically and mentally, then do yourself a favor and join OB’s fencing team.