With a year of virtual practices, prolonged seasons and little opportunity for team bonding behind them, ETHS fencing has achieved early success in the first month of its season.
Starting off strong at the Stevenson Invite on Nov. 13, Evanston broke records and secured countless firsts for the program. That day, junior David Groothius was the first-ever ETHS boy’s epee medalist, senior Elena Tancredi, despite being the only returning foil fencer, secured a top-eight and top-16 finish, and two other seniors became the school’s first-ever women’s epee finalists.
Much of these upperclassmen’s successes can be attributed to the skill and expertise they developed from fencing all these years at Evanston. Now, they use that experience to help lead and counsel the newer fencers.
“We have a lot of seniors returning [this year], so they all have competitive experience from the last one to three years,” head coach Clinton Smith elaborates. “And, so, those seniors are really helping with bringing up the people who are both new to the sport and new to the team.”
Last year, amid COVID-19 restrictions, the team gradually lost members as the season went on. Now, as sports come closer to a sense of normalcy, the fencing program has only grown in size and talent.
“This experience has allowed the returning fencers to bond with the team and make sure that the new people are really welcomed into it,” Smith explains. “We want as many people to fence, and we want everyone to stay fencing; we don’t want you to walk away from the game.”
Going forward, the Kits hope to build upon their early victories through reestablishing the team dynamic that was lost during the pandemic. Through hard work, dedication and team motivation, this season is shaping up to be one of their most triumphant yet.
“We’re really focused more on fencing and building the varsity team and getting everyone comfortable knowing their role when they’re going to fence in the rotation,” Smith says.