By Shania Kuo
With the winter season for sports drawing to a close, it’s time for fencers to hang up their gear and sheath their weapons once more. For graduating seniors, this will be their last year alongside the team as they whisper bittersweet farewells to the strip. However, for many fencers, this year marked a series of achievements despite a few disappointments.
The beginning of the season saw a rush of new members, creating a team of approximately fifty athletes. In addition, the team welcomed 2014 Oyster Bay alumnus and former foil captain, Virginia Kemp, who replaced former Assistant Coach Dan Ruthkowski. With last year’s energy still running high for returning members, fencers trained vigilantly for their meets. Through brutal conditioning and fencing drills, teammates forged a thorough bond with each other.
However, both the boys’ and girls’ teams quickly hit a stuttering point.
Following their victory over Cold Spring Harbor, the girls failed to defeat Great Neck North. For the boys, last year, the sabre team said farewell to their entire starting lineup of seniors, who left behind a gap for this year to fill. Skills have yet to mature for this new team of young talent as was evident when the boys faced off against Jericho. Up against the reigning county champs twice in one week, the boys’ and girls’ teams both lost both times.
The pressure was mounting. The girls’ team was quick to recover, but the boys’ team practices were tense. The boys were struggling to figure out how to improve themselves while the girls carried on with heads held high.
That is, until the boys finally found their momentum.
In spite of a rough first match against Hewlett for the new year, the boys’ team bounced back and won their meets with Cold Spring Harbor, Wheatley, Hewlett, and Great Neck North. Breaking the mental block, fencers were able to finally fence to their potential and pulled through when they were needed most.
To end the season, the boys’ team concluded with a 6-6 record and fourth place on the overall standings while the girls went 8-5. Valley Stream defeated the girls in the quarters on Wednesday night, but the boys defeated Great Neck North. On Saturday, February 3rd, the boys will have a chance to redeem themselves while fencing in the semifinals at Jericho High School.
While the team struggled throughout the season, the camaraderie never wavered. I know that on a personal note, I have retired to the position of manager, yet no one has treated me any differently than a regular teammate, which is all I could ask for.
I would also like to thank the seniors for the three years of memories they gifted me and the bonds I treasure dearly. Never before had I grown so close to a senior class, and knowing I will soon say goodbye stings worse than any bruise. However, this pain is soothed by my knowledge that they will be successful no matter where they end up. I’m delighted I had the privilege to meet these outstanding fencers. So, to them, thank you, and I hope you continue to be successful.
For anybody considering joining the fencing team, in the words of Coach Kemp, “Try it out. It’s something so unique that not only are you working on a goal for yourself, but one for your team. And we have such a great group of kids that we keep in touch even years after graduation.”
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