CHATHAM, NJ - The Chatham high school fencing team is looking forward to what they hope will be their best season yet and it's all about preparation.

"We are coming up on Chatham's ninth varsity fencing season," Jerry Duffey, Chatham head fencing coach, said. "The three-month winter high school fencing season is generally dominated by the fencers who have access to a strong local club and participate in competitive fencing year-round.

"Introducing kids to fencing as early as possible is a key component of them getting excited about the sport and having enough time to grow into those strong fencers. This year we were able to offer the first team Summer camp in mid-July.  It went really well and now we are offering a second session at the end of August."

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The New Jersey Workshop for the Arts and their Westfield Fencing Club paired up with the Chatham High School Fencing Team to offer the introduction to fencing Summer Camp last month. The Summer camp offered middle school and high school kids a chance to learn fencing without any prior experience or equipment, as well as letting beginners continue their development in fencing.

The instruction was provided by, Coaches Jerry Duffey, Lauren Fuchs, and Boris Paghiev, the coaching staff of the Chatham HS team. They were assisted by Darren Yen the men's team captain and Amy Zheng the women's foil captain.

The camp drew a total of seven students in it's inaugural session. One of the students, Grace, will be returning to the team as a Sophomore on the women's foil squad. Three of the students, Amudah, Michael, and Ben will be joining the high school team as Freshmen this season. Josie, Max, both from Madison, and Skanda will be eligible to join the Middle School Team when it starts its first season later this year.  The campers were able to learn fencing footwork and try each of the three weapons, foil, epee, and sabre and select their chosen weapon to continue training for the Friday open bouting.

Other preparations for this season include introducing returning fencers to local clubs. "The Chatham men's and women's teams have greatly benefited from the influence of those members who train at clubs like Integrity Fencing Studio, Manchen, V-Fencing, South Mountain Martial Arts, and other local clubs. We are hoping that more Summer activities will spark a similar excitement level in other team members. We also work with the Drew Preseason Clinic for high school fencers as part of season preparation. We hope to build on all of that for the coming season." 

Also in the works is the first Chatham Middle School Fencing Team being developed with New Jersey Workshop for the Arts to launch later this year. The team will be open to Chatham and non-Chatham students with or without fencing experience. "Middle school fencing is a lot of fun. Most of the kids are just getting started. There are several teams in the area and we look forward to some friendly competitions with them," said Duffey.

"The Summer camp is a great opportunity to work with the kids. It is probably one of the best learning environments. You have enough time to enjoy the process as a student. This is an easy access point for a sport that fits a lot of kids that haven't found that activity that fits their energy and interest. Fencing is great for kids that don't see themselves as "athletes". A lot of fencers started out that way. We are excited to offer this fun and challenging sport to new kids in August," Duffey said. The next camp session runs August 27th through the 30th from Noon to 5 P.M. Camp registration and middle school team information is available via ChathamFencing@gmail.com

New Jersey Worshop for the Arts, NJworkshopforthearts.com