ROSWELL, Ga. — With masks on and swords swaying, 151 fencers kicked off the 2013-14 fencing season with the first tournament held at Roswell High School, 11595 King Road.
On Sept. 7, high school students from Fulton, Forsyth and Cobb counties participated in the largest tournament the Georgia High School Fencing League (GHSFL) has held since 2009.
GHSFL coordinated all the schools in the league to attend the tournament rather than splitting the schools in two tournaments like in previous years.
Co-founder and Vice Chairman of GHSFL Kathy Vail said the league is the third largest high school fencing league in the United States, and it allows students to represent their schools while learning a sport they can enjoy for a lifetime.
“Fencing is a sport that encourages good sportsmanship, mental quickness and athleticism,” Vail said. “Helping to make this happen as GHSFL vice chair is very rewarding.”
Pope High School in Marietta won first place last season and placed first in the men’s epee and second in the women’s epee in this tournament.
The head fencing coach at Pope, David Eichler, said being a part of GHSFL is all about giving back. Eichler said fencing made a huge difference is his life, and he wanted to share that with anyone willing to learn.
“There are many life lessons that students will learn about that will carry over into the real world,” Eichler said. “Good exercise and proper diet will take a person far in life, and fencers also learn how to handle a defeat as well as a victory with grace and honor.”
Fencing opportunities extend beyond high school, and Vail said GHSFL prepares students for collegiate fencing in the NCAA and for NCAA scholarships.
“The students who fence are normally the academic students who excel at other things in life such as Scouting,” said Melissa Danielsson, team parent for the South Forsyth High School fencing team. “It’s amazing to see the Ivy League universities these students end up attending.”