A day for Archer sophomore Ava-Rose Beech ’16 is different than that of many others. We all get relief from stress in some way or another, whether it be playing a game of soccer or listening to music. In Beech’s case, it’s going head-to-head with an opponent in an intense fencing match.
Fencing is an activity that takes up most of Beech’s time. She fences Monday through Saturday each week, with competitions on Sundays. She fences in a group class; members practice footwork, drilling and “bouting,” which is “just fencing like you would do in a competition,” Beech told the Oracle.
She typically has a private fencing lesson immediately after the group class. She says, “These lessons can be really helpful to talk to my coach and get feedback and also target things I need to work on in my fencing.”
There is a truly competitive nature to fencing. In addition to the regional competitions that take place most Sundays, there are more intense competitions called NACs, or North American Cups. These are national competitions in different states that occur about once a month. Beech explains, “There are usually about 120 or more of the best fencers in the U.S. at national competitions. They are really nerve-wracking and there’s a lot of pressure because national competitions are really important.”
Despite the nerves, Beech has gained a lot from fencing. She told the Oracle, “I have many favorite parts of fencing. One of them would definitely be the determination and focus it gives me that I don’t think I could get from anything else. I’ve also gained a lot of confidence because I’ve learned over the years that you need to be sure of yourself when you’re fencing.”
In addition to the confidence she’s gained, she has come in contact with a community that has welcomed her with open arms. She says, “I met my closest friends through fencing and we are such a tight knit supportive group. Even though fencing is an individual sport, we always cheer each other on at competitions, hang out after practice and support each other.”