Union's Omari Smoak Making a Name for Himself in the Sport of Fencing

Omari Smoak fencing at the USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge
Omari Smoak wins gold at the USA Fencing National Championship and July Challenge
The USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge
Omari Smoak fencing at The USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge
Omari Smoak wins gold at the USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge
Omari Smoak taking a break at The USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge
Omari Smoak fencing at The USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge
Omari Smoak wins gold at The USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge

UNION, NJ – Omari Smoak of Union is excelling at a sport some people only know about from swashbuckling movies.  Smoak took up fencing when he was 9 years old and has excelled in the sport ever since.

Smoak won the first place gold medal, out of 244 competitors, in the Junior Men’s Epee Division (under 20 years old) at the largest USA national fencing competition of the year.  Smoak also won a medal in the Senior Men’s Epee Division (49 years and younger).  Out of 121 competitors, Omari ranked 7th

The USA Fencing Summer National Championships and July Challenge took place over the July 4th weekend in Salt Lake City, Utah.  It was the largest national domestic competition of the year.

Sign Up for E-News

“My family and I are super proud of Omari,” said his mom and number one fan Denise Odom.  “Omari showed up and brought home not one, but two, medals.”

Earlier this season, Smoak won a medal at the Milwaukee, Wisconsin North American Cup, coming in 5th place out of 260 competitors.  He also placed in the top 32% at both the Columbus Ohio North American Cup and the Baltimore Maryland North American Cup.

“Omari has a lot of talent, drive, aspiration and a great fighting spirit,” said his first coach and mentor Peter Westbrook.  Westbrook is the Founder and CEO of the Westbrook Foundation and a 1991 sabre fencer and Olympic bronze medalist.  “Without a positive fighting spirit it is hard to win. Omari has a lot of that.”  Smoak has been with the Peter Westbrook Foundation for almost 10 years. 

“I feel blessed and thankful for all those who supported me and continue to support me including my parents, my coach, the Fencers Club New York and of course my home based fencing family The Peter Westbrook Foundation,” said Smoak.

Smoak trains at the Peter Westbrook Foundation every Saturday morning, practicing drills, footwork, cardio, running and practice bouts with other members of the club including world champions and Olympians.   “The Peter Westbrook Foundation is my home,” said Smoak. 

“Omari loves giving back to his PWF family,” added Westbrook.  “When one gives like Omari, he receives big time rewards in fencing, academics and in life.”

Smoak, 18, said he trains 4-5  days a week at the Fencers Club in New York with his personal coach Alexey Cheremsky.  The Fencers Club was established in 1883 and is the oldest fencing club in the United States.  Smoak trains one day a week for track workouts, but mainly it’s fencing practice.

There are three different and distinct types of weapons used in fencing: epée, foil and sabre. Each has its own blade, set of rules and target area. Some rules, however, remain constant for all three weapons.  Smoak’s discipline is epée.

The basic goal of fencing is to score the most hits (or touches) on your opponent with your weapon. The epée is the heaviest of the three fencing weapons. Like the foil, a touch only counts if it is made with the tip of epée; however, both fencers can score from touches made at the same time.  An epée hit counts anywhere on the body.

Smoak is a sophomore attending St. Johns University in Queens, NY majoring in television and film.   He is not on the fencing team there because he wanted to focus on his academics the first year, but he said he will probably try out for the team this year.  Smoak is an intern at Scholastic Publishing in New York City.

Smoak said he loves photography, art, fashion and being creative.  He and his business partner, Jackson Edwards, have designed a line of tee-shirts called ActionandSmoak.  “We launched the company in March, 2016, to help offset the cost of our fencing expenses.”  Actionand Smoak tees can be found at

“I have high aspirations and know that Omari will represent the United States on future World Championship Teams and future Olympic Team,” said Westbrook.

My future aspirations are to continue training so that I can become a National Champ, World Champ and eventually an Olympian,” said Smoak.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News


The Week Ahead in Union

June 11, 2018

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 6/11

Union Township Active Retirees (Monday Club), 10:00 a.m., Senior Center
Adult Prize Bingo, 1:15 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Construction Zone, 3:30 p.m., Union Public Library
Career Coach, 6:00 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Donuts with Your Dude,6:00 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library

Tuesday, 6/12

Senior Citizens ...

Friends of the Union Public Library Book Sales

UNION, NJ - The Friends of the Union Public Library are holding a book sale on Saturday, June 16.

The all-day book sale will be held at the Main Library.  Books, CDs, DVDs and more will be available.  Fill up a bag with items for $10.00.


The Friends of the Union Public Library  support the Library in its effort to encourage the community to connect, explore and ...

The Week Ahead in Union

UNION, NJ - Happenings in Union this week:

Monday, 6/04

Union Township Active Retirees (Monday Club), 10:00 a.m., Senior Center
Connect, Explore and Discover TMI: Tech Monday Instruction"RB Digital EBooks & E-Audio”, 1:15 p.m., Vauxhall Public Library
Construction Zone, 3:30 p.m., Union Public Library
Read to Waldi, 4:15 p.m., Union Public Library
Career Coach, ...

Upcoming Events


Sun, June 17, 7:30 PM

Union HIgh School, union

UHSPAC Student-Directed Play: Avenue Q


Wed, June 20, 10:15 AM

Union Public Library, Union

Chair Yoga in the Library


Wed, June 27, 10:15 AM

Union Public Library, Union

Chair Yoga in the Library

Kayla Douberley Graduates Elmira College

June 17, 2018

ELMIRA, NY - Kayla Douberley of Union was among the graduates celebrated at the 160th Elmira College Commencement on Saturday, June 2. The exercises, held at the Murray Athletic Center, Pine Valley, included 270 undergraduate and 27 graduate students.

Members of the 2018 Elmira College graduating class were recognized with multiple honors and prizes, including induction into Phi Beta Kappa, ...

Rashaunda Beasley of Union Earns a Bachelor's Degree from Georgia State University

ATLANTA, GA - Rashaunda Beasley of Union earned a bachelor's degree from Georgia State University during May 2018. More than 2,000 students earned bachelor's degrees from the university this spring, with more than 4,000 students earning degrees at the associate's, bachelor's, master's, specialist and doctoral levels.

Georgia State University, an enterprising urban public ...

Two Union Residents Make the University of Hartford Dean's List

WEST HARTFORD, CT - The University of Hartford has announced the following students from Union have been named to the Dean's List for Spring 2018.

Emmanuel Onwunaka 

Jennie Gedeus 

The University of Hartford, centrally located in Connecticut, provides a distinctive educational experience across seven schools and colleges for one of the most diverse student bodies in New ...

Honey Bees Found in Dumpster Relocated

June 15, 2018

UNION COUNTY, NJ – The County found themselves in a sticky situation last week when a swarm of honey bees were discovered at a construction dumpster at the County Administration building.

A social media post by the County said a pair of beekeepers from the nonprofit organization Groundwork Elizabeth came to the scene on Friday, and the bees were relocated to the Elmora Public Library, as ...

Union Catholic Grad, Olympian Sydney McLaughlin Wins NCAA Title, Announces She's Going Pro

EUGENE, OREGON — College freshman phenom Sydney McLaughlin, who graduated from Union Catholic last year, won the women's 400-meter hurdles for the University of Kentucky at the NCAA Championships on Saturday at Hayward Field, and then announced after the meet that she's turning pro.

McLaughlin, a U.S. Olympian in the 400 hurdles in 2016, completed one of the ...

Freeholder Rebecca Williams Joins the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders

UNION COUNTY, NJ - Assemblywoman Linda Carter administered the oath of office to Freeholder Rebecca Williams as she joins the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

Williams was joined by her godson Liam Phillips Brown. Williams, a resident of Plainfield and former Councilwoman, will complete the term left vacant by Carter, who recently resigned to become the State Assemblywoman for ...

Boundless Talent on Display at Hannah Caldwell School

June 15, 2018

UNION, NJ –Talent was on full display last week as over 40 students participated in Hannah Caldwell School’s Talent Show, with singing, dancing, musical instrument performances, and even a comedian.

“This is a special performance because the children are in control.  All of the acts in the show were prepared outside of school by the students,” said music teacher ...

Battle Hill and Hannah Caldwell Students Celebrate Reading Accomplishments

UNION, NJ – Young readers in Hannah Caldwell and Battle Hill Elementary Schools enjoyed the fruits of their labor on Wednesday when they celebrated their accomplishments in this year's Olympic Reading Programs.

Librarian Karen Franciosa said, “I couldn't be more proud of the students who worked diligently throughout the year to accomplish their personal reading ...

Red Carpet Moment for Union High Seniors

UNION, NJ – Prom night for Union High School seniors means red carpet glamour.  

And glamour was on full display at the annual red carpet walk Thursday evening, as Union High students walked the red carpet, alone or with their date(s), to a cheering crowd. 

Sponsored by the Union Township Community Action Organization, Inc., the event showcased beautiful gowns ...

Mountainside Officials: We Knew Nothing About Allegations Until Lawsuit was Filed

June 9, 2018

MOUNTAINSIDE, NJ – The mayor and council of Mountainside have gone on record stating they had no knowledge of the incidents alleged in the lawsuit filed on May 11 against the borough “until the filing of the lawsuit.”

The borough has also “retained former New Jersey State Police Superintendent Joseph Santiago” to help restore public trust in the department, ...

Beatles Lecture @ Union Public Library

June 16, 2018

The Union Public Library will be hosting an interactive lecture about the early years of the Beatles on Monday, July 9th at 6:30 p.m as part of its “Libraries Rock!” summer series.  Presenter Paul Groom, who lived the first 17 years of his life in Liverpool, England and went to some of the same schools as the Beatles, will discuss the lesser known Beatles story about their days ...

Union County College Hires New Dean of Humanities

CRANFORD – Dr. Melissa R. Sande is the new Dean of Humanities for Union County College. Dr. Sande joined Union in the fall of 2013 as a full-time instructor of English. She has more than ten years of teaching experience and has previously served as a program coordinator, writing tutor, and an adjunct instructor.

As the Dean of Humanities, Dr. Sande will be responsible for the supervision ...

Help Is Available for Suicide Prevention

The Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders reminds residents that trained counselors at NJ Hopeline will provide confidential, anonymous guidance for people who may be having suicidal thoughts, or who know someone at risk.

NJHopeline may be contacted 24/7 by phone at 855-654-6735 or by live chat at

In addition, Union County residents can contact the County’s ...

“Back in Time” Offers Enriching Experience for Union County Residents with Special Needs

The Union County Office of Cultural and Heritage Affairs hosted its first “Back in Time” history program last week at the Deserted Village of Feltville in the Watchung Reservation. The new program aims to provide an interactive learning opportunity for County residents including those with disabilities and special needs.

“The Freeholder Board is proud to support our parks, ...



AtlantiCast: Episode 16

Summer is in the air, and the latest episode of AtlantiCast is ready to help you enjoy some fun outdoors while staying safe! This week’s episode opens with tips for sunscreen usage from Atlantic Health System’s Chief Medical and Academic Officer, Dr. Jan Schwarz-Miller. You’ll also learn about how Atlantic Health System is advancing the future of health care through ...

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (William Morrow, 2018)


A friend, whose opinion on literature I respect greatly, reported to me recently that she had just finished reading A.J. Finn's debut novel, The Woman in the Window. Of it she said, “I wish I hadn't finished it,” which I interpreted to mean, “It was so good I'm sorry that I finished it.” ...

What Union is Reading: Month ending May 2018

June 6, 2018

Some great new books have topped the list in May; how many have you read? The top circulating print books in six categories for the Union Public Library in May 2018 follows. The top circulated digital books from RBdigital make up the seventh category; download the app today and start borrowing books from home to read or listen on your phone or tablet!

For suggestions for similar reads, stop by ...

Union's Oldest Home is On the Market

June 4, 2018

UNION, NJ – History is on display at real estate showings of Union's oldest house.

The house, referred to as the Brandt-Headley Farm House, is at 1835 Vauxhall Road

The listing for the home says it was built in 1783.  But according to Tom Haggery of the Union Historical Society, an 1882 book references that the west wing of the home was built around 1700.  ...

Could Monmouth Park's Haskell Invitational Be on Justify's Agenda?

June 13, 2018

ELMONT, NY — Triple Crown winner Justify came out of his stall to meet the media bright and bouncing on the morning after his gate-to-wire win in the 150th running of the Belmont Stakes.

When asked to assess his colt's win, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert reported, “We were watching replays of the race. He could have gone around again.”

The brilliantly colored ...

Letters to the Editor

Get Empowered to Help Prevent Suicide

June 8, 2018

Over the past week social media and the news have been filled with stories and articles encouraging people to seek help if they’re in emotional distress. There have been countless articles about the need to break the silence around the topic of mental health and suicide, and I am encouraged by the support people are extending to others.

Often, the death by suicide by prominent ...