Fencing Teams beat Rye Country Day, prepare for ISFL

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Anoushka Parakh , Contributing Writer

The Boys and Girls Varsity Fencing Teams defeated Rye Country Day School with an overall score of 4-2 on Tuesday. The following day Girls Varsity Fencing also defeated Marymount 2-1.

There are three different types of weapons in fencing: foil, saber, and épée, each of which demand unique techniques and skills, Arman Azmi (12) said. Each weapon has three to four players per gender, he said. 

During the match, there are a total of nine rounds, also referred to as bouts, per weapon, Coach Alejandra Teran-Eligio said. Usually, three team members from each weapon will fence three times each, she said.

After each game, the players gain a better understanding of their opponents’ weaknesses and strengths, and apply their knowledge to the next person they fence, Sylvie Seo (12) said. Seo is always working on new strategies to catch her opponent off guard, such as improving her speed, she said. 

The team’s two primary goals for the season are to improve overall and to win, Harry Cottrell (12) said. “We really do have a shot at being first this year and winning [the championship].” 

The team is very connected and has a lot of team spirit, Teran-Eligio said. The players always help each other and cheer for each other during matches, she said.

The team continues practicing for their next match right after their previous one, consisting of simple exercises, running laps, stretching, and practicing fencing with different people on the team every day, Seo said. The coaches also pull players aside to work on individual skills that they can improve upon from the previous game, she said. 

Starting in November, the fencing team begins preparing for their matches, and improving their technique, Teran-Eligio said. “Fencing is about two things: technique and strategy.” After each player feels comfortable with their technique, the coaches start working to improve the player’s actions, Teran-Eligio said. “Fencing is very personal, meaning that what I tell one player to improve on, I cannot tell another the same.” 

Since the return from winter break, the team has been doing a lot of drills to get back into the groove of things, Cottrell said. “Practices help train the body to make decisions that it is not actually fast enough to make,” he said.

When it comes to matches, the players always are trying out new techniques to find out what works best against their opponent, Cottrell said.  “Fencing is based on the individual, as everyone has their own style. You have to figure out how to beat them in the three minutes you have, which makes it pretty intense,” he said.

Fencing requires concentration and focus to get into the other person’s head and win, Azmi said. When it comes to strategy in fencing, it depends on the other person as an opponent –– in that way, you change a lot when you fence, so you don’t generally go in with a set strategy. 

During the match against Rye Country Day School, the Girls and Boys Fencing Teams had to take turns competing as there was a shortage of referees, Seo said. After the game, the three coaches, one for each weapon, had discussions with their team to explain what they did wrong and how to fix it, Cottrell said. 

Teran-Eligio asks her épée team three things after every match: What they did, what their opponent did, and what they can improve upon. “If you know what you are doing, you are able to change and improve something. If you know what the other person is doing, you are able to take another instruction and improve.”

There are many new members of the fencing team this year, Teran-Eligio said. One of her primary goals as a coach is to make sure they have great technique. “It doesn’t matter if you are the stronger person, or if you are the bigger person, if you are not smart in the game, you will never win,” she said. 

Overall, Teran-Eligio believes that confidence is key to good fencing, she said. “If you do not believe you will win, you will not win,” she said. 

Coming up at the end of the season is the Independent School Fencing League (ISFL) Individual and Team Tournaments, Cottrell said. Qualification for the tournament is based on each player’s overall win-loss record, he said.

The team has good prospects for the ISFL, Azmi said. “We came really close to winning last year, and this year, we hope to win. It is the tournament that matters the most, and we want to get as much practice in as we can,” Azmi said.