Coming into the season, the St. John’s fencing team had something to prove. After having fencers compete at the 2000 Olympic Games, it added another noteworthy accomplishment to its already impressive resume.
The St. John’s fencing team won the 2001 NCAA Fencing Championships last weekend at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside in Kenosha. “We worked hard for it, we put in a lot of hours,” senior Ivan Lee said. “We knew it wasn’t going to be easy.”
Defeating Penn State was no small task for SJU’s fencers. The Nittany Lions had won the previous six championships. Along with the feeling of pride for the national championship, there is also the feeling of team unity among the Red Storm.
Winning the title thrust the team into a spotlight that isn’t normally reserved for fencing. “I know that we worked hard for it and I hope that the school appreciates the hard work we put into it,” Lee said.
Head Coach Yury Gelman noticed a different outlook from the first days of fencing practice, which he said was a reason for the championship. “Everyone wants to win, even freshmen, from the first day they come to our practices.”
For the fencers, it’s time to bask in the glory of a hard-earned victory, but shortly they will be back to work. Most will compete for their various countries or private fencing clubs.
Once fencing season begins, the practice schedule is two hours a day on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. During these sessions the team warms up, does footwork drills and have private lessons with the coaching staff. In addition to these practices, a majority of fencers train at the New York Fencing School, located in the Chelsea section of Manhattan.
As for next year Gelman isn’t necessarily making any guarantees, but he sure is confident about the team’s chances. “I would say we’re going to win again next year, 99 percent.”