Growing up, kids read stories about warriors fighting with swords. For most children, the extent to which this fantasy becomes a reality is predominantly playing with fake swords in their backyards, but for some, this dream becomes true. Kristen Wong ’18, Polly Adler ’19, and Reza Merchant ’20 are three skilled fencers within our student body who have transformed this fantasy into reality. The three have been fencing for 4, 7, and 3.5 years, respectively. The starts of their unusual sport careers began differently for each one. “As a kid, I always loved Star Wars, and I loved stabbing things, so I put those together and got fencing,” explained Merchant. Wong, on the other hand, was intrigued by the lack of popularity that fencing held in Scarsdale, as opposed to more popular sports she played. All three immediately fell in love with every aspect of the sport. Competing takes up large quantities of their time, whether it be practices or tournaments. “After school, I’ll go home and do some homework, then I’ll take the 3:15 train to New York City, and then I’ll usually get home around 9:00 PM,” shared Adler. She makes this strenuous trip five or six times a week, taking away from school work and friends.
Wong, who also fences in the city multiple times a week, explains they typically practice and play games to maintain their fast reflexes. However, Merchant thinks of it as more of a stress-reliever and an important break from other parts of his life. He also loves the connections he’s made in his club and having the opportunity to travel around the country. “We’re like a family there. I always feel comfortable there, so they’re probably my driving force,” stated Merchant. Fencing has given him new experiences and chances to see different places, from Dallas, Texas to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and even to San Jose, California. Adler explains that through fencing, she has met people all over the world and developed close friendships she never would have made otherwise. Wong is currently preparing for her next tournament, which will be in Austria, and she has already travelled to Poland and Germany. She came in 7th in Poland. Merchant has come in 6th and 9th in world tournaments and is now ranked #12 globally. When Alder was 12, she came in 3rd in the Junior Olympics and was ranked in the top 16 in Division 1. Their accomplishments have earned them respect from their peers. “[My friends] think it’s a really cool thing that I do, and they all kind of want to try it,” shares Merchant. Mad respect.
by Kelli Rainer and Ali Rothberg