Allez! En Garde! Boys’ Varsity Fencing Team wins States

Program emerges victorious at State Championships

   The Upper School (US) Boys’ Varsity Fencing team (BVF) stood proudly with glistening gold medals hanging around their necks as Captain Lucas Sabatini ’24 hoisted the trophy into the air. Just moments before, the US Girls’ Varsity Fencing team (GVF) had celebrated with bronze medals. Competing against both public and private schools across the state, the Varsity Fencing team took home two trophies. BVF placed first and GVF took third at the Massachusetts State Championships on February 25, 2024.

   Despite a previous lack of members, this year, new fencers helped the team’s success, GVF Captain Susanna Barouch ’25 said.

   At meets, each school brings a squad of three fencers for each of the three weapon categories: foil, épée, and saber. The squad for each category is then paired with an opposing squad. Everyone on one squad fences everyone on the other, making nine bouts, or matches, per weapon. However, teams that do not have three fencers for each weapon are forced to forfeit any bouts they cannot fill.

This season, the fencing team doubled in size to over 30 members with the help of new freshmen and no longer had to forfeit bouts. Still, the team had to overcome many challenges, Susanna said.

“In the beginning, integrating the new members into the team and figuring out how practices should run was a challenge. We didn’t have any girls who fenced foil, so some of the girls who fenced épée converted to foil halfway through the year, and that was their first time fencing foil.”

Susanna enjoyed watching her teammates grow, both individually and as part of the team, she said.

“Something rewarding about being a captain is being able to interact with every member of the team,” she said. “We’re a very tight-knit community.”

This sense of community was even more prevalent at the State Championship, Susanna said.

“One memorable moment was the very last of the men’s bouts, which was very exciting. Everyone gathered around to watch it, so there was a lot of camaraderie.”

Troy Song ’26, who fences épée, also values the team’s community, he said.

“Our team works very hard, but everyone’s really friendly with each other. On top of working hard, we also have a lot of game days where we reserve a full day for dodgeball or [or other activities] to build that team dynamic and build those connections.”

Troy also appreciates having an environment where everyone feels comfortable and trusts each other to work together as a team, he said.

“One of my favorite things about being on a team is the feeling of reliability,” he said. “I can feel comfortable subbing myself in or out, knowing someone else will always be there to back me up. In the end, we all share the same goal: winning the meet. If I don’t get to fence as much, but the tradeoff is that we win State Championships, then that’s a risk everyone should be willing to take.”

The team is incredibly supportive of each other, which only added to the excitement of winning the State Championships, Troy said.

“Outside of school, individual fencing is very different,” he said. “I compete alone. I still have connections and friendships in that community, but nothing can compare to what we have here at BB&N. Every time someone scores, your entire team is cheering for you. When you know that the outcome of the next bout determines whether or not you move on, everyone’s watching. Everyone stands there waiting for a result, and we all erupt in cheers when someone scores.”

US Fencing Program Coordinator Grace Wang was proud of the team for the supportive environment they created at competitions, she said.

“The team rallied around each other, and they did great,” she said. “One weapon would finish, and they would all go and congregate elsewhere. You would get this big crowd cheering for one particular weapon or fencer on the strip. There was a lot of positive energy and a lot of excitement.”

To advance in a round, a school needs to win 14 out of the 27 total bouts. Being part of a team reduces the consequences of losing any individual match, Ms. Wang said. “If you don’t do well, you may have a teammate in a completely different weapon who pulls out a win that covers your loss,” she said. “It lessens the pressure on the fencer and really makes it much more of a team- spirited environment. You’re fencing to win your bout, but at the same time, everybody’s

contribution counts.”

Caroline Dudzinski ’26, who received this year’s Girls’ Fencing Cup Award, likes the balance between the individual and team nature of fencing, she said.

“It’s an interesting dynamic because you’re alone every time you go on the strip, but your teammate is 10 feet from you,” she said. “I have the freedom to control my own matches, but my teammates are right there when I need them. Fencing teammates rely on each other because every individual win brings the whole team closer to a better performance and victory.”

Alexander Chterental ’25, winner of the Boys’ Fencing Cup Award, said he enjoys the strategic nature of fencing. “It’s an interesting sport,” he said. “It’s not just all muscle or how fast you are. You could be the most in-shape person, but you can still end up losing to someone who out- thinks you.”

The team’s win was unexpected, he said. “Considering the last two years, our record hasn’t been the best. I wasn’t expecting that we were going to win, so I’m proud of the team.”

Lucas is proud of how the team bonded throughout the season, he said. “In the beginning, so many of the freshmen knew each other,” he said. “We were kind of divided as a team. The freshmen have integrated really nicely into the team, and it’s really rewarding to see that.” As a captain, Lucas took on a “somewhat parental” role, he described.

“You feel like you take some responsibility for the team as a whole. You’re really proud of them when they’ve done something incredible like coming in first and third.” Lucas is sad to no longer be a member of the team but is thankful for his time on it, he said.

“The fencing team has a lot of great skill,” he said. “I’ve been a part of some BB&N fencing team for six years at this point, so I’m sad to not be a part of it anymore, but it’s in good hands.”



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