Finding comfort in fencing

Photo by Kylie Chau

Senior Joanna Lopez leaps back and forth, attempting to jab at her opponent while simultaneously avoiding being struck. Narrowly avoiding a hit, she steps back a few feet before charging forwards again. Breathless, she runs up, finally landing a strike on her adversary. She feels a rush of excitement, having finally struck her opponent first in a duel. This was a turning point for Lopez, the first time she felt like a real fencer.

Lopez joined the fencing team in her junior year after hearing about it from a friend. Although she still doesn’t think of herself as an amazing fencer, she has fallen in love with the sport over the past few months. After her experience with the team, she now heavily encourages new membership, touting the thrill of fencing and the success of the team.

She says that prior to joining the team she hadn’t known anything about the sport. “I thought, ‘it’s just a dark ages sport, what does that have to do with me’,” Lopez said. Now she is thrilled by the new and unique challenge. “It makes me feel excited,” Lopez said. “It’s exhilarating.”

Despite her limited capabilities, Lopez has grown to love the sport. “I like the adrenaline,” Lopez said. “Jumping around, trying not to get stabbed and then stabbing them first is really rewarding.”

Photo by Kylie Chau

Though it’s a more obscure sport, the team is still quite successful in competition. They won first place overall at the San Francisco All-City Championships last season, getting first place with their girls team and second in their boys season. Lopez herself does not participate in tournaments as she only recently joined the team and lacks experience. However, she says that if she is able to pursue fencing in the future she would like to try competing. 

Due to her deep passion for fencing, Lopez expresses an interest in continuing the sport after high school. “I hope I have the time,” Lopez said. “If I have the time [to continue fencing], then yes.” After her time sparring with peers and growing into this new passion, Lopez heavily encourages interested peers to join fencing. “No one really knows about fencing, so it’d be nice to see more fencers around the school” she said. “We do have new members, but I want fencing to get the recognition it deserves.”