If one were to join the Fairfield Fencing team, they would quickly learn two things: the weapons are called blades, not swords, and – most importantly – the team provides a haven for those who wish to hone their skills and minds.
Fairfield Fencing recently began their Winter Season, flush with new members and already preparing for victory in States. The Crimson Tigers are a convergence of Warde and Ludlowe students, all of whom quickly become close over the course of pre-season conditioning. New fencers were met with encouraging teammates and captains, all of whom were more than willing to help in their development as newcomers to the sport. They also have 5 coaches to learn from, who wield their experience in training proficient athletes. Head Coach Jim Roberts has supported the team since 2012 and has fostered 8 individual State champions, as well as 24 All-State team members. With the support of all involved, new fencers can quickly learn about the disciplines in which they can compete – foil, epée, and sabre, the three respective blades in which they can practice – as well as etiquette and rules of the sport.
“When I joined the team, I had no clue what fencing was, until like two weeks before the tryouts. You’re walked through everything, you’ll even get to compete in a novice tournament your first year, which is really a boost,” says Grace Baranosky, Warde Senior and épée captain of the team. Since joining the team in her sophomore year, she has progressed into a capable athlete, reflected in her leadership position. With four captains and five coaches, the Crimson Tigers are well-equipped to train formidable athletes and teammates.
Beyond the training and competitions, the team spends plenty of time together off of the mat. They often host hangouts, as well as fundraisers – leaf raking, for example. In any instance, they bond. Alex Leite, Warde Junior and member of the team, iterates the importance of inclusivity and relationships within the sport. “The fencing team is very supportive. It’s an open group…. I look forward to it especially because of the people and the team culture.”
If you’re hoping to add something more to your schedule next year, the Crimson Tigers offer an opportunity worth considering. The sport of fencing fosters an eye for strategy and speed, as well as an environment of people worth knowing. Grace captured the essence of the sport, perhaps perfectly: “Fencing is called ‘physical chess’… It’s all about reading your opponents’ moves and figuring out your next move while still being able to be an athlete.”
This article was originally published in the December 2021 print issue of The Warde Focus Volume XVII, Issue 1.