Finding her edge

Gabriella Longo ‘23

Gabriella Longo ‘23 (Psychology major, Women and Gender Studies minor) shares a memory of her first experience with the sport of fencing. Longo is a member of the varsity Women’s fencing team.

It was my Freshman year at Denison and I promised myself I was going to stay active and learn a new sport. Before even coming to college my first year I had thought about trying fencing. Why not choose an unknown sport? It would sound so cool to say “I am a fencer!” I reached out to the fencing coach to show my interest, and he recommended that I attend the “try-it” clinic he was hosting. Before I knew it I was trailing down the big hill down to the gym.

Sweat dripped down my forehead in the August heat and my heart beat rapidly from nervousness. What if no one is there? What if I make a complete fool out of myself? My mind flooded with uncertainty and questions until I finally reached my destination.

Many people of different genders and ages had shown up as well, and my heart slowed to a normal pace. Coach Peter Grandbois, who teaches English and is a grandmaster fencer, started us with some basic footwork and movements, and then we suited up to get a feel for the weapons.

I hadn’t known it at the time but I grabbed a foil to fence with. We were matched up with a random person to practice what we had learned and finally start fencing.

A girl with long brown hair and glasses looked back at me as we waited to begin. I felt as if I could easily be the aggressor until we started and she immediately placed me in defensive mode. After a few confusing wacks with our swords, I finally hit her right in her stomach. (Maybe I wasn’t so bad after all.)

“What if no one is there? What if I make a complete fool out of myself?”

Coach Grandbois called for the next round of fencing, and I felt confident that I could win again. Little did I expect that she would hit me on my arm within ten seconds. I may have been a sore loser back then because right after that I questioned if fencing was for me. I left that day without a desire to fence and a big bruise on my arm.

This memory shows not only a typical experience of a freshman trying to find her place in college, but also a story of why you shouldn’t give up. I can proudly say now that I am a fencer on Denison’s Women’s Varsity Fencing team.

It took a little push from my friends and myself to finally join the team but I am so grateful to be a part of a beautiful sport and a wonderful team of people.

I am still a beginner and pushing past the learning curve can be quite frustrating, especially with a new sport. Fencing has brought me the opportunity to make lifelong friends, gain a sense of strength in myself, and focus my mind through such a strategic sport.

So if you are still reading this, this is a sign for you to push yourself to do that one thing you’ve been interested in. You may struggle or fail in the beginning but you have the ability to learn and grow from it. Find your passion!

October 5, 2020