Junior Jabs Her Way to Fencing Victory

Ava Wade-Currie ’23 to represent Team U.S.A. at Junior World Cup

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Hannah Bernstein, Contributing Writer

When Ava Wade-Currie ’23 was 10 and watched a fencing scene in the Disney Channel show “Jessie,” she wanted to emulate the characters and decided to try the sport.

This September, Ava competed in seven consecutive matches and won six to rank seventh in the country in female fencing’s international junior competition, the Cadette Epic, and 14th in the world for all fencers in the Juniors Division, ages 14 to 16. Ava began her training in sixth grade with the Olympia Fencing Center in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“When I first started fencing, I was shy and timid,” Ava said. “I had trouble fencing with confidence, especially in tournament matches.”

Ava trains year-round and has overcome physical challenges, she said, like a sprained knee, broken thumb, and bruised spine.

“There’s also the mental part of competitions: I have to keep my nerves in check and stay collected during the match.”

This November, Ava traveled to Grenoble, France, where she competed in the 16-and-under Cadette World Cup. She qualified for the Cadette World Cup by placing in the top 20 female American fencers, ages 14 to 16, in the Cadette Epic. One-hundred ninety-six fencers from thirty countries were represented at the competition, and Ava placed 16th.

“It was my first world cup competition, so I didn’t expect to be anywhere near the top 20,” Ava said. “However, sticking to the techniques ingrained in me, I never let my confidence waver, and I ended up placing higher than I thought
possible.”

Although surrounded by unfamiliar, international fencers, Ava’s biggest challenges, she said, came against fellow Americans.

“I was excited to face people from across the world since most countries have special techniques that I have been looking at,” she said. “A lot of the American fencers I had already seen fence before in national tournaments, and they knew many of my techniques, forcing me to create new strategies days before the events.”

Aside from her own fencing, Ava is also a junior coach at her fencing club. It is during coaching that Ava can forget the stress of fencing and give back to the Olympia Fencing Center, she said.

“I get to watch my students as a junior coach have the same ‘aha’ moments, when they master a feint or lunge, that made me fall in love with the sport. I get back to my roots, which are easy to forget when you’re constantly at high-stakes competitions,” Ava said.

Those high-stakes competitions have affected Ava’s life outside of fencing, too, she said.

“I’ve gotten a lot more confident in fencing over the past year, which has spread to academics, junior coaching, and everyday challenges of my life.”

Fatmata Sesay ’23, a close friend of Ava, highlighted Ava’s “confidence, outgoingness, and overall energy” on and off the strip and said she enjoyed watching videos of Ava fencing.

“In the videos, Ava will win a point and all-out screech at the opponent, which is supposedly normalized in fencing, but it catches me off guard every time,” Fatmata said.

Founder and Director of Olympia Fencing Center Daniel Hondor accompanied Ava to her first world cup and has been coaching her for seven years.

“Ava’s passion for fencing is infectious,” Coach Hondor said. “As a fencer, Ava’s speed makes her special. As an athlete, Ava is dedicated to fencing. She truly loves the sport and our fencing community.”

Coach Hondor knows fencing is a fast sport, he said, and he emphasized the little room for error.

“The biggest challenge Ava has overcome is learning to manage her anxiety on the strip. In a fast- moving match, it can easily become overwhelming and induce panic. I’ve seen Ava stay confident and hold herself high in these bursts of panic,” Coach Hondor said.

Coach Hondor said Ava’s dedication to fencing and her trust in the people around her are what put her above the competition.

“Ava’s key strengths are how well she takes instruction when she is on the fencing strip and her willingness to trust that I, as her coach, can see things from the sideline that she can’t see on the strip,” he said.

Ava hopes to go to the Junior World Cup in Cairo, Egypt, taking place on April 3 through April 11, which means she must be top 20 in the nation. As of January 30, she is ranked 14th.

Coach Hondor hopes Ava realizes she can successfully compete at the highest level whether she goes to the Junior World Cup or not, he said.

“I want her to learn to trust herself and her abilities and for her confidence to grow with each event,” he said.

If she wins over two-thirds of the next several matches against Americans, Ava will stay in the top 20 and realize her dream of representing Team U.S.A. at the Junior World Cup.