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Fencing Reflections & Perspectives

Nathan Go ‘19
Growing up, Nathan was into all things athletics. Track and Field, Soccer, Basketball, Cross Country… if there was a team at Meadowridge, you could be sure Nathan was on it. So, when fencing was introduced, the then Grade 5 student didn’t think twice about signing up. Of course, as the youngest son to Ms. Connie Chow, he had a little extra motivation to get involved. In any case, he was keen: “I knew whatever I learned in fencing—hand-eye coordination, foot work, technical skills—would translate into and help my other sports,” Nathan shares. The alum stayed a member for as long as he was at Meadowridge.

While competition and sport were a huge factor, Nathan also liked the community that the club formed. While fencing at Meadowridge, Nathan remembers tournaments across the country followed by sightseeing with friends. While fencing in university, Nathan remembers seeing classmates from British Columbia in provinces far away.

“It’s such a niche sport, so you end up seeing a lot of your old friends,” he shares. Of course, with his own special insight, Nathan also knows the work that gets put into running a club of this calibre: “Mr. Mason and my mom [Ms. Connie Chow] were working all the time. Mr. Mason was always there early and stayed late, and my mom and I would often come back to the school late at night to prepare and get things ready. We even have fencing equipment we store at our home,” he laughs.

Nicole Su ‘20
Though Nicole has graduated from Meadowridge, moved on to university, and competes at the varsity-level, she still remembers her early days in the Meadowridge fencing club. “I remember looking up to the older students and wanting to be just like them,” she smiles. Back then, her coaches—students and teachers alike—were people who inspired and trained her.

“I remember looking up to the older students and wanting to be just like them,”

Nicole went on to compete with outside clubs and became a competitive force in the fencing world. Later, when the opportunity presented itself for Nicole to step into the role of coach, she agreed straightaway. Nicole wanted to give back and support students just as her own coaches had. During the throngs of the Diploma Programme (DP), Nicole found coaching younger students alongside her friends a time of solace. It was where she could relax and share the sport she loved at the school and with the people she loved. 

Joshua L., Grade 11
A competitive fencer outside of school, Joshua brought his experience and talent to the Meadowridge Fencing Club as referee and coach. Though volunteer hours were his initial motivation, Joshua has found true enjoyment that has kept him involved. Crediting his own experiences as a competitor, Joshua works with the younger students on the skills and tactics he knows they’ll need.”

“Fencing is a very analytical sport—it’s like the chess of sports—so I help students understand their opponents’ thought processes so that they can make the right decisions,” he explains. His experience also helps him know what to look for as a referee. Overseeing such an intricate sport is tough, and Joshua has spent many hours studying and taking on the tests and observations required. Though he has just started, he currently sits at a level one referee with USA Fencing.

Having seen many fencers and clubs, Joshua is proud of the club that has grown at his school: “The Meadowridge fencing club has been around for so long that people know about it just like they would volleyball or soccer,” he explains, “where some people are only just now learning about it, Meadowridge students have known about fencing for so long.”

David Guo ‘20
Like many young students, it was a fascination with swords that got David into fencing. “I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to smack my friends with a sword,” he laughs. Fifteen years later, now a member of the University of Toronto’s varsity fencing team, this initial fascination has evolved into an undeniable talent.

After discovering fencing at Meadowridge, the young learner got more involved in outside clubs and started attending competitive events. Though it has been many years since then, David still remembers his first tournament. Not because he won, but because he lost… badly.

“Fencing is like chess boxing... it’s very much a combat sport, but it’s equal parts mental too.”

“I remember getting dead last and crying, but then looking at the guy who won and saying to myself I want to win. I want to be that guy.” From Grade 4 onward, he was committed to getting there. “Fencing is like chess boxing,” he explains, “it’s very much a combat sport, but it’s equal parts mental too.” While progressing in his own fencing career, David, like many Meadowridge fencers, gave back and coached younger students too. Joining at first to meet volunteer requirements, David ended up finding enjoyment in coaching. With a heavy academic workload and his own competitive fencing career, it was when he could relax and help others.

Whether on the piste as a competitor or on the sidelines coaching, David keeps up with the sport for the calm it brings him. “Once you get into it, the game just cascades into place,” he nods.

Angela S., Grade 9 
When Angela S. sets foot onto the fencing piste, something in her changes. The usually calm, quiet, and “not very social” student turns into a fierce and aggressive competitor. Angela can’t explain what exactly changes, only that she feels open on the piste, “in sync” as she puts it. Whatever the change is, it’s working. Angela is quietly racking up medals and rising in the ranks of the international fencing scene.

Though Angela started fencing back in the third grade, her competitive career is just a few years young. During the pandemic, Angela was nursing an ankle injury and was second-guessing her involvement. “I was having a low moment with fencing,” she admits. That all changed when her coach—miles away, stuck in lockdown too—started pressing her to heal and get back into training. With in-person fencing on pause, he checked in every day and trained her online. By the time the world opened back up and fencing tournaments began, Angela was re-energized and healed. Now, she is going to “literally every competition” she can. Québec, QC one weekend, Vancouver, BC the next.

With so many competitions, Angela’s schedule is tight. Still, the Grade 9 student finds time to give back and nurture the next league of competitors. As a coach to young Meadowridge fencers, Angela trains students to meet the demands of competitive play. “We know what to teach and how to help students think,” Angela explains of her approach.

With many medals, top-five finishes, and a two-year coaching career, Angela’s appreciation for the sport is all about variety. “What I love about fencing is that anything can happen,” she explains. “One-on-one competition makes it so that it’s up to the competitor and the competitor alone.”

Matheson Go ‘17 
Matheson has unique insight into Meadowridge School’s Fencing Club. He was a member for the entirety of his academic career, served as both competitor and coach, and, neatest of all, saw how the club came to be. Eldest son to Ms. Connie Chow-Go, he saw all the extra time, planning, and work that was put into the program over these last 15 years.

“It was never just about showing up on Friday to coach,” he remembers of his mom’s commitment, “it was sourcing gear, planning tournaments, hiring coaches, and all the other behind-the-scenes work.” Matheson even remembers being dragged to countless out-of-school tournaments when his mom would attend just to cheer on Meadowridge fencers. Matheson eventually got involved too, helping kids into their gear and from the sidelines. Of course, all of this happened while he was also advancing in his own competitive career.

Matheson fenced, coached, and volunteered with the Meadowridge Fencing Club but also competed at both national and international levels. After graduating, he even played on his university varsity fencing team before transferring over to McGill University. Still, with so many accolades and memories, Matheson says seeing the club’s growth is what he is proudest of.

Noah Wong ‘21 
Noah discovered fencing in a Grade 4 PHE Class. Thinking then that it seemed “super cool,” he joined the club shortly after. His initial interest grew with each session, his competitiveness with every year. Noah stayed on as a member through to his graduation, all while competing with an external club as well.

Like most fencers at Meadowridge, the club served as the foundation for more. During an eleven-year run, Noah competed at tournaments across the country and over the border, winning many medals along the way. When not on the road, Noah bonded with his fellow club members.

“The community, including the teachers and coaches, was so great,” Noah explains, “it was a great chance to interact with students from other grades and I enjoyed all the people I got to know.” Off the piste, the club members instituted their own traditions, including a year-end tournament before the winter break that concluded with hot chocolate and catching up. After many good memories and much success, Noah continued his involvement after graduation.

Now in his third year at Western University’s Ivey Business School, Noah is also one of the captains of the varsity fencing team. And though his studies have taken him many miles from home, that special fencing community is never far behind. “I still see Meadowridge fencers at tournaments in Ontario,” Noah smiles, “I think it’s really cool to still see them all the time and so far from home.”

From left to right:

  • Épée, Foil, and Sabre fencing blades.
  • Jacket: Protects upper body and neck. Jackets differ between weapons.
  • Lamé: A conductive jacket indicating the on-target area for the weapon. Only required in Foil and Sabre.
  • Shoes: Protect feet and provides stability.
  • Mask: Protects head and neck. Masks slightly differ between weapons.
  • Plastron: Protects underarm and chest.
  • Glove: Thick protective glove. Lower portion is required to cover at least half of the forearm.
  • Knickers: Protective pants with suspenders, which ensure they stay in place during movement.
  • Socks: Protect legs.