WESTFIELD, NJ — Westfield High School’s fencing club, founded in 2013, has grown to 33 members.
Senior and club president Grace Ascione said she loves watching the club grow.
“The club was founded by one of my closest friends and I've been with it since its first days,” Ascione said. “Every year our membership has grown, and it's amazing to watch people come and take part in this thing that means so much to us.”
Unlike with most sports at WHS, fencing is year-round, and the team does not practice every day. Instead, they usually practice for an hour and a half two times a week at the Advance Fencing and Fitness Academy in Garwood, with one business meeting a week at the high school.
Many students have their own equipment. For those who don’t, equipment is provided for practice by the academy. Fencers must own their own equipment to qualify for varsity status and take part in individual competitions.
Each year, the club usually starts up right after “club day” in October, and the team loves to come in with a bang. The past two years they have started dance parties in the courtyard during club days, with other clubs joining in. Acting silly and having a good time is a common theme with the fencers.
“The atmosphere in this club is completely unique,” senior captain Natalia Zeller-MacLean said. “I have never heard as much laughter during a sports practice. We have people who sing during stretching — usually Mulan — and there are, of course ‘Princess Bride’ puns.”
Because fencing is a club sport, students can easily join if they are picking up fencing for the first time or participating while also playing another sport. Zeller-MacLean viewed this aspect as a very positive thing and feels that this is why the team runs so smoothly.
“We have fencers for whom this is a second or even third sport training, with others who are experiencing fencing as their first sport outside of gym class,” she said. “In our club, the culture is one where everyone brings their experience and uses it to help each other.”
Sarah Slavin is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.