If I were to pick one word that accurately sums up our weekend at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships (March 1-2), it would be pride.
From the "N" on our masks to the purple tattoos on our faces, we represented Northwestern athletics in an honorable and gratifying manner. When senior Dina Bazarbayeva won gold and claimed the individual championship, I could not have been more proud. In an intense final bout, she was down 13-9 to a fencer from Notre Dame. Remaining calm, Dina strategized and rallied for six remarkable points in a row to win, 15-13.
Dina has not only been an impeccable captain, but an extremely motivating and inspirational contributor to our team this year as well. Her determined, stringent work ethic translated easily to the strip as she has accomplished an impressive 53-13 record. In addition to Dina's undisputable talent, her leadership and solicitousness for the underclassmen truly have had positive and impactful effects.
Our twelve freshmen also represent the strong sense of pride I leave MFC's with. I've watched them grow from their first sprints on North beach to claiming victories for the Wildcats in high-pressure situations. I think I can speak for the rest of the team when I say that the freshmen have played a huge role in our successes this season. They performed even bigger than we could have ever expected.
Overall as a team, we did not place as high as we hoped. But knowing that we left everything we had out on the strip, we are proud to have earned third place overall. From what I experienced this weekend, I can tell that each of us learned of an aspect of our own games to improve upon. With our last week of practice before the NCAA Midwest Regional in Detroit, Michigan we intend on making the most of our time on the strip with hard-work, perseverance, and most of all, pride.
Thanks for reading and as always, Go 'Cats! - Jen
P.S.: I'd like to give a very special and important shout-out to our absolutely phenomenal athletic trainer, Erica Kendrick, who has helped us all through a plethora of injuries this season. We couldn't have done it without you!
This past weekend
Northwestern Fencing headed over to South Bend, Indiana for the DeCiccio Duals,
our last dual meet of the season.
The morning began with a
tough match against Ohio State. A strong finish came from the epée squad,
consisting of Juliana Barrett, Mandeep Bhinder, Christina Allen, and Kaitlyn
Wallace, who won five of their nine overall bouts. Even with the absence of senior Dina
Bazarbayeva and junior Courtney Dumas, who were abroad for the weekend and competing in a World Cup, the underclassmen successfully stepped up. By the end of the match, we
realized that many of our losses were by just one touch, revealing that this is
a strategy we will have to work at even harder in practice.
The next match was against
Notre Dame, who we have already fenced many times this year. This time the sabre squad
pulled off a 5-4 victory with freshmen Ania Parzecki and Cindy Oh winning two
bouts each. After battling it out against the Fighting Irish on their home turf, we ultimately fell 20-7.
The third round proceeded
with a match against Penn State, a team we have yet to compete against this
season. It was refreshing to compete against fencers we have not seen since the
Duke Duals of last year. Although we lost a close match, 16-11, the epée squad showed
dominance again by winning their bouts 6-3.
The second half of the day
looked brighter as we posted victories against Cleveland State, Detroit, and
Wayne State. One benefit of the DeCiccio Duals is that we are able to focus our
attention on Ohio State and Notre Dame, who we will be competing against in the
upcoming Midwest Fencing Conference Championships on March 1-2 in South Bend. This allows us
to analyze our mistakes against specific opponents, leaving room for correction
out on the strip in a few weeks.
The weekend, although short,
proved to be valuable in that we each walked away with a lesson learned and
increased motivation to push for victory in a few weeks.
I want to give a special shoutout to Justin Blatner,
our Sports Performance coach, who traveled with us this weekend. He was
a great supporter for the Wildcats and became a lot more familiar with the sport of fencing.
The past few weeks have been filled with practices, meets, flights, and road trips as we continue on through our competitive season. In this week's blog I'll cover our meets at Virginia Beach, New York City, Philly, and our home duals here in Evanston over the weekend.
January North American Cup - Virginia Beach, Va.
The first trip since the last entry took place in Virginia Beach, where nine of my teammates competed in the January North American Cup. The wildcats, as expected, all finished with amazing results. Junior Courtney Dumas brought home a medal after finishing sixth in the Division I women's epee event. Freshman Mandeep Bhinder, also an epee fencer, took 17th place out of a solid field of 120 fencers in the junior women's epee competition. Other significant finishes came from freshmen Alisha Gomez-Shah, placing 17th in Division I women's saber, and Stephanie Chan who placed 22nd in junior women's foil. The freshmen continued to come in strong with Kayla Kelch taking 30th in junior women's foil and Kimmy Fishman placing 33rd in a tough Division I women's foil event. As promised, I've provided some sabre footage of freshman Alisha Gomez-Shah winning a thrilling bout against an Ohio State opponent 15-14. Overall it was a great weekend for Northwestern fencing out on the East Coast!
NYU and Philly Invitationals
Following the North American Cup, we reunited in Patten Gymnasium and intensively prepared for one of the toughest weekends of the season: the NYU and Penn Invitationals. This is always one of my favorite meets because we compete against some of the highest-ranked teams in the country. Not to mention we get to eat dinner at some of my teammates' houses. After flying into New York, we went straight to the Goldstein residence where junior Mary Spohn and I continued our annual tradition of devouring Napoleon cake like it's the last chance we will ever have to eat again. The next night, we had dinner at Charlotte Sands' house. The home-cooked meal was absolutely delicious, and I am still drooling about Charlotte's dad's brisket.
We began the weekend at NYU where we competed against Columbia, Yale, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Wayne State, and NYU. After a long day of competition, we went 3-3, improving our record to 19-3 for the season. By 8:00 that evening we were on our way to Penn for the Philadelphia Invitational. While there, we defeated Johns Hopkins, Cornell, Sacred Heart, and Penn. The match against Penn was both exciting and nerve-wracking, as it came down to the final touch. Freshman Mandeep Bhinder was able to pull away a win in a suspenseful priority bout, giving us the 14-13 win against Penn. Her celebration of unexpected jumps and screams were almost as good as the win itself.
Our one loss for the day was against Temple, where many of the deciding bouts were lost by just one touch. As a result, we've been drilling these types of bouts during practice. We replicated the scenario by making the score tied, adding pressure to get that final touch towards victory. We returned from this trip with many lessons learned and increased motivation to beat them next time.
NU Duals and Dina Day
The next weekend we were back at home for the Northwestern Duals, where we would compete against ten schools from around the country. Before the fencing began, we recognized our lone senior and captain, Dina Bazarbayeva. We honored her success and contributions with flowers and blown up pictures of Dina's face (see below). Once the ceremony was over, we opened the day with a match against UC San Diego. Closing them out with an 18-9 victory, we moved on to a rematch against Temple, who we lost to the weekend before.
With the help of packed stands and the hunger for revenge, we were able to beat Temple 17-10. Our focused drilling that worked to correct our mistakes against Temple the previous weekend clearly had a positive effect on our performance. The next match was against Penn, where we lost by just one close bout. Despite our loss, freshman sabre fencer Ania Parzecki was able to pull through with three wins.
The first day of NU Duals concluded with wins against Duke, Cal Tech, and Tufts. The intensity heightened against Duke, as the sophomores, juniors, and senior on the team did not want to repeat our tough loss against them last season. Fortunately that was not the case, as we beat them 19-8. The next day, we competed against Farleigh Dickinson, North Carolina, Lawrence, and Princeton. Our only loss was against Princeton, who is currently ranked first in the country. With an 8-2 record for the weekend, we turn our focus to our next meet in South Bend for the Notre Dame Duals.
The 'Cats kicked
off 2014 with an interesting first week of our winter quarter. As Wildcats, we weren't going to allow a few unexpected snow days caused by the sub-zero temperatures, lost fencing equipment at
the airport, and stranded teammates in Europe (Hi Stella!) to stand in our way. This
past weekend we left our scarves, gloves, and hats behind and flew to Palo
Alto, California where we competed in the Western Invitational.
This year, Stanford hosted the meet and invited us to compete
in an exhibition match the night before the duals. On their home turf and in front of many
fans, the 'Cats were able to come through with a convincing win. We defeated them 17-10 on
Friday night and again Saturday morning by a final score of 18-9. After
fencing Stanford on Saturday, we then defeated UC Davis, Caltech, Air Force,
and Florida. We completed the weekend with a cumulative score of 113-22 and another
Western Invitational championship title.
We then celebrated our victory by taking advantage of the
warm weather and sunshine. Upon returning to the hotel, we jumped into the pool
without hesitation. Our competitiveness carried over from the strip to the
water, where intense battles of "chicken" and freestyle races ensued.
We concluded the weekend with a delicious, well-earned dinner where I witnessed
freshman Stephanie Chan eat more than a pride of lions in the wild.
The next few weekends are action-packed as we compete in
the Virginia Beach North American Cup, NYU Invitational, Philly Invitational,
and home our duals (Feb. 1-2) at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. Based on our performance in Palo Alto and our hard work at
practice, I am more than confident we will come through with more big wins in the
Editor's note: Rather than using the written word to chronicle Northwestern's trip to Cleveland, Ohio for the USA Fencing November North American Cup, Jen produced a video blog about the weekend. Below is her submission:
It's my favorite time of year again. And in case you were wondering, I'm not referring to dressing up on Halloween, or my endless consumption of pumpkin spice lattes, but the adrenaline I feel on the strip during competition season. I think I can speak for every one of my teammates when I say that competing is what we live for. Finally, it's that time of year where we move from competition to competition, fighting for every touch and every victory, one bout at a time.
This past weekend, we hosted the USFA Remenyik Open in honor of Northwestern's first head coach, Charlotte Remenyik. It was an exciting event with fencers coming from all around the country to battle it out for the gold medal. Overall, the 'Cats claimed two gold medals and 10 top-10 finishes. Congratulations to junior Courtney Dumas and freshman Alisha Gomez-Shah on securing those gold medals, or should I say battle-axes? (See below).
Instead of trophies or medals, battle-axes were given to the top finishers of the competition. (I wasn't kidding).
Preseason is officially over as individual competitions come to an end and our collegiate duals begin. My teammates and I are more than ready to switch from individual competition to team competition. Fencing is an individual sport, but collegiate fencing allows us to fence for more than just ourselves. It gives us the opportunity to flaunt our purple gear, represent Northwestern athletics with pride, and most importantly, win together.
On Saturday, November 2nd, we're on to the next one as we compete against 11 Midwest Fencing Conference opponents at Patten Gymnasium. The team and I have been working extremely hard with lifts, conditioning, yoga, footwork, drills, and bouting. Our energy is through the roof this year, and I can't wait to see the freshmen experience their first collegiate-dual meet as Northwestern Wildcats.
In social media news, make sure to check out Junior foil fencer Tina Umanskiy's twitter (@UtheMANskiy) for some deep thoughts, misused sarcasm, and overall comical entertainment.
As we tackle midterms one
exam at a time, we say goodbye to pre-season and enter the early season
quadrant. Our next few weekends are stacked with both home and away
competitions. The team and I are beyond excited to represent Northwestern and
show the other schools what we are made of.
A new addition to our
practices this year has been the iPad. In the past we have used video cameras to
record our meets and analyze the actions of our opponents. Now, we have the opportunity
to video record our footwork, drills, and bouting at practices. The iPad is a
great benefit because now we can easily identify what we need to work on at
both the individual and team level. Having a visual aid during our practices is
an extreme advantage, and we hope to continue to use it throughout the season.
So thank you, iPad.
Another form of technology
that we've experimented with was the GoPro Camera. Junior foil captain Mary
Spohn, after struggling with duct tape for several minutes, finally stabilized
the camera inside her mask at a recent practice. The GoPro Camera allows us to
view our fencing from a completely different angle. Rather than watch my
fencing from the perspective of a bystander, I can now analyze my own actions
from the perspective of my opponent. Unfortunately, placing the camera inside
the mask didn't allow the clearest view of the action. But no need to worry, Mary
plans on placing the camera on top of her mask during future practices. Hopefully
I can post some awesome video footage here soon!
Overall, our practices have
been going extremely well and the energy we garnered at the beginning of the
year is still going strong. This upcoming weekend we compete in the USFA (United
States Fencing Association) Remenyik Open at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion
both on Saturday, October 26 and Sunday, October 27. The following weekend we
host Club Duals in Patten. We'd love to see everyone out to support your fellow
I want to give a special shout-out
to the foil squad for such hard work and dedication this week. "We came in
like a wrecking ball and can't stop!"
Good luck on midterms
everyone and until next time,
It's been a hectic first few
weeks of school but it feels great to be on campus -- especially with our
fourteen new freshmen! They are an amazing, motivated group of people who come
from all over the United States and even Europe; and I could not be more
excited to have each and every one of them on the team. I first met the
freshmen during our team's "Beach Week", where we worked out together
and got back in shape out on North Beach on campus. It was a great team-bonding
experience and most definitely my favorite part of welcome week.
After doing squat jumps,
suicides, and sprints in the sand, we finally hit the strip for our first
non-collegiate meet of the season. We held the United States Fencing Association Burton Open at the Henry
Crown Sports Pavilion, and as usual, swept the medals. We earned gold medals in
all three weapons and had 19 top-10 finishes. For those of you that don't know,
there are three different weapons in fencing. Foil (the weapon I fence, and therefore
the best one), epée, and sabre. There are different target areas for each one,
meaning where a fencer can hit and score a touch varies for the differing
weapons. There are a lot more differences among the weapons, but I think you
would much rather witness the sport in person than read my lengthy explanation.
So, next time we have a home meet, come out and support the 'Cats!
All in all, the Burton Open
was a solid warm-up for the upcoming season and a great opportunity for the
freshmen to show us what they've got. As expected, they performed extremely well
and I'm so glad they are now a part of the Wildcat family. It's going to be an
exciting season, especially with all the positive energy they contribute to the
Our next competition will
take place later this month on October 26th and 27th at the Henry Crown Sports Pavilion. We'll be participating
in the Remenyik Open as another warm-up before our first collegiate meet in
Hi everyone! For those of you that don't know me yet, my name is Jen Yamin and I'm from Allendale, New Jersey. I'm a sophomore on the women's fencing team and I've been fencing since I was 11 years old. I decided to come to Northwestern because of its strong academics, supportive athletic community, the proximity to Chicago, and of course, the people here. With all of that in mind, I proudly present the first entry to the new fencing blog, Behind the Mask:
Writing to you from my bed after a casual 17-hour power nap, I have returned from Jeju Island, South Korea where my teammates and I participated in the Korea-USA Elite Fencing Invitational (KUEFI).
Five fencers from universities across the United States were chosen to compete in the individual competition. From Northwestern, Cara Franke, Mikela Goldstein, Courtney Dumas, and myself traveled abroad to participate in such an exciting event. Unfortunately, our teammate Dina Bazarbayeva suffered an injury before the competition and was unable to travel. There were also fencers from Princeton, Brown, Stanford, Notre Dame, Columbia, and many more schools.
Overall, the 'Cats performed pretty well considering the summer is our offseason. Fencing the Koreans was a tough, yet rewarding experience. Although their clean, precise styles were difficult to fence against, we still got the opportunity to test out different strategies at the highest level. Our best finish came from Courtney, who finished third in the women's epée event. Way to go, Court!
Jeju is a beautiful, tropical island that has been named one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. After the competition was over, the competitors took advantage of the free-time to explore downtown Jeju. The streets were filled with so many shops, cafés, and restaurants that it was impossible to make it one block without stopping. The language barrier was sometimes an issue, and at one restaurant it led to a game of charades. One thing I did learn was that ordering chicken wings with hand gestures is a lot harder than you think.
In addition to exploring downtown, we had the opportunity to hike on "Cultural Experience Day," arranged by the Korean organizers of the invitational. The sights were beautiful and the water was a perfect blue. After hiking in the sweltering heat, we took a taxi to Hyeopjae Beach and stampeded like wildebeests ran straight into the water.
The organizers of the competition also held an "Education Through Athletics" Seminar, where the US coaches discussed balancing sports and academics. I was shocked to hear that in Korea, it is considered impossible for athletes to be academically strong students. In Korea, you are considered either a student or an athlete, but never a "student-athlete." One goal of the KUEFI event was to promote the "student-athlete model" and show the advantages of balancing the two. I think that after this seminar, the Korean students and teachers have a clearer understanding of the American collegiate athletic life. I wish the Korea International School students the best of luck as they continue on with their studies and sports!
My trip to Korea was a culturally enriching and exciting trip. However, it feels great to be back in my own bed. I can't wait to be back on campus, and as always, Go 'Cats!
The 2012-13 academic year was a memorable one for Northwestern. Over the next several weeks, we will celebrate the conference championships, noteworthy wins and significant milestones that the Wildcats accumulated during the past year. Be sure to follow along at NUsports.com as we revisit the top 20 moments.
Since taking the reins of Northwestern's fencing program in 1978, head coach Laurie Schiller has enjoyed a tremendous amount of success. The eight-time Midwest Fencing Conference Coach of the Year has amassed almost 1,150 victories on the strips and has built a culture synonymous with sustained success. Since the 1999-2000 season, the Wildcats have finished no lower than ninth at the NCAA Championship; during that time NU has averaged 34 dual victories per year.
In late March, four 'Cats made the journey to the Lone Star State with a keen eye toward extending Northwestern's historic streak. Led by not one, not two, but three All-America efforts, the quartet compiled 44 victories to secure yet another top-10 placement at the national-championship meet in San Antonio, Texas.
Senior Dayana Sarkisova entered her final collegiate competition with three All-America awards already under her belt and in San Antonio she made it a perfect 4-for-4. The Grand Rapids, Mich., native won 13 bouts, including three of her final four, to finish eighth overall in foil. Sarkisova joins Julia Földi, Sam Nemecek and Christa French as the programs only four-time All-Americans.
The most wins for the Wildcats at the NCAA Championships were contributed by its newest All-American, Courtney Dumas. The sophomore tallied 14 victories in epée to garner a ninth-place finish and become Northwestern's 14th different All-America honoree under Schiller.
The 2013 All-America trio was rounded out by junior Dina Bazarbayeva. Competing alongside Dumas in epée, the native Texan won 12 bouts at the meet to finish in 12th place overall. Chloe Grainger represented the Wildcats in sabre and added five victories to the team's total.
There is certain bittersweet feeling that is reserved solely
for a specific type of person: an athlete in her or his last year of
competition. To those that have experienced this milestone in their athletic
careers, no explanation is really necessary, and to those who have not, no
explanation would be possible.
I sensed this feeling creeping up on me the second I stepped
foot back on campus. Walking into Patten Gymnasium for the "last" first time
this year solidified my fear that my time at where I can honestly claim to be
the Best Place in the World is coming to a close.
Like any athlete, I knew this year would come, but I never
really thought it would be here. And like any athlete, I stepped back into the
gym with my sights set on making it the best year yet. What athlete doesn't
want to go out in a blaze of glory.
Little did I know that I would be doing something with my
senior season that I had not once experienced in all 15 years of my athletic
career- I would be watching at least part of it from the sidelines.
Injuries are a tricky thing. You spend countless hours as an
athlete training your body to do exactly what you want it to do and then all of
a sudden you have no say in the matter. Injuries can bring out the best in an
athlete and they can certainly bring out the worst. Most importantly, injuries
can bring into focus lessons that were maybe never fully learned.
The collegiate sport of fencing is scored much like tennis
or wrestling whereby individual victories come together to result in a win for
the team. Thus, fencers are always caught in a certain limbo, unsure of whether
they are competing for themselves or for a greater team good. After three years
of competing alongside a spectacular team, I thought I had finally gotten the
whole "teamwork" thing down. Little did I know that by being taken completely
out of the game, I'd learn what it meant to dedicate yourself to a group of
people; to make their hopes and dreams your priority. I'd finally understood
what it meant to want the best for your team, to want the wins, the glory and
the happiness for your team, even if it meant watching it from the side of the
With all of this in mind, I'd like to dedicate my last first
blog post to the 24 other girls I'll be sharing my last season with. But more
specifically, to my foil squad and an amazingly impressive group of freshman
that have more than risen to the occasion. I once came across a quote that
stuck with me; "The goal isn't to live forever, the goal is to create something
My last season ever will surpass any hopes I had for it if
we can make your first season ever
completely legendary. Good luck to the girls as they open up the season this weekend
in California, and Go 'Cats!
Five Northwestern fencers, along with head coach Laurie Schiller and associate head coach Ed Kaihatsu, traveled overseas earlier this summer for the 2012 Korea-USA Elite Fencing Invitational (KUEFI).
The competition, staged at SUNY Korea in Songdo International City, pitted Team Korea against Team USA against Team Korea over four spirited days of action. The team of United States All-Stars featured 83 fencers form 10 of the top fencing squads around the country, including the five Wildcats.
A pair of 2012 NCAA Championship qualifiers, including All-American Kate Cavanaugh, represented NU in the epée competition. Cavanaugh was joined in the tournament by fellow NCAA qualifier Courtney Dumas and classmate Kendrick Mooney. Dumas recorded the highest finish of the trio, placing 10th. Cavanaugh finished 15th and Mooney checked in at 21st in the talented international field.
After battling through injury for much of her first season at Northwestern, Katherine Kim came on strong at the end of the season and carried that success into a great showing in Korea. Kim finished 10th in the foil competition at the KUEFI.
Team captain Alicia Gurrieri represented the Wildcats in the women's sabre event. Gurrieri placed 13th in the competition.
Special thanks to Ed Kaihatsu, who documented the trip by taking hundreds of pictures. For a small sample of the experience, visit the photo gallery below.
These were all words I had both heard and used countless times while competing for an internship with Under Armour. Over the years I had followed the company's impressive growth, witnessed the "in-your-face" advertising, and was shocked alongside the rest of the country by their fearless uniform designs. Yet despite all of this, nothing could prepare me for what I would experience first-hand when I arrived in the city of Baltimore.
"This isn't like all those other internships. You won't be getting anyone coffee here." This line has practically become a cliché in the world of internships, and every college student looking for work in the summertime has heard it before. Little did I know that when it came to Under Armour, this "line" doesn't just hold true- it is an incredible understatement.
From the moment I stepped foot on UA headquarters, I was on the go. As an intern in the digital marketing department, I was constantly reminded, "Social media never sleeps, Dayana;" quickly, I realized I wouldn't be doing much sleeping either. I was (literally) sprinting from meeting to meeting across headquarters, interviewing the brand's professional athletes, and working at sporting events around the country. Already, I was beginning to note the striking similarities between life at Under Armour and at Northwestern.
Oftentimes people say that what one learns in school is useless in the workplace. I would be lying if I said the thought hadn't crossed my mind during one of my numerous all-nighters throughout the school year. However, during this internship it became clear to me that my experiences as a Northwestern student-athlete had more than prepared me for my workplace. Considering the unforgiving quarter system, grueling schedules, and multiple cross-campus practices a day, my adjustment wasn't a drastic one.
Throughout the summer, the similarities proved endless. As I got to know the company's culture, I began to realize more and more what an incredibly cohesive relationship was being formed between Under Armour and Northwestern. Both ends live and breathe their values of teamwork, determination and excellence. Both ends are seen as the underdogs, yet continue to work relentlessly. Both Under Armour and Northwestern don't just demand respect... they are willing to fight for it.
Naturally, I was hungry for any Northwestern-related information I could find. I spent any free-time I had badgering the on-field design teams and ooh-ing and ahh-ing over new uniforms and gear. I not-so-casually invited myself to the video shoot for the uniform teaser, where I would stand in a corner attempting to exude professionalism, while I jumped up and down squealing on the inside. It continuously blew my mind the amount of authenticity and attention to detail Under Armour dedicated to anything Northwestern-related.
On the day of the football uniform reveal, fellow Wildcat and ESPN sports business reporter Darren Rovell first broke the news. Immediately following, my fellow digital marketing interns and I were given the responsibility of pushing the unveiled designs over social media. I watched the very collages I had put together that morning spread like wildfire over the internet- whether it was my favorite sports blog or my friend's Facebook page, the Northwestern stripe was now everywhere.
Never have I seen such incredibly positive feedback. It didn't matter what critics thought... amongst the Northwestern community, the excitement was undeniable. It became obvious to everyone that Under Armour and Northwestern would serve as a catalyst for one another, immediately catapulting this new partnership to the forefront of collegiate athletics.
That was when it really hit me. Under Armour didn't just design our uniforms; Under Armour had brought to life the grit, determination, and unbeatable quality our athletes represent everyday. The "stripe" isn't just something aesthetically pleasing, a design to wear on our chests; the stripe is something tangible to get behind, something that is only ours, and something that embodies the Northwestern spirit proudly for everyone to recognize. If there is one thing I learned from my summer experience, it's this: Under Armour and Northwestern did not simply form a new business arrangement. Under Armour and Northwestern have come together to begin a complete and total movement... and this movement begins with reclaiming the stripe.
EVANSTON -- One week ago Friday more than
100 Northwestern student-athletes bid farewell to the university armed with the
tools to head out into a successful life after college.
Many Wildcats will scatter to every corner of the country
and the seniors from the fencing team are no exception. Kerry Bickford, Annelise
Eeman, Rebecca Grohman, Chloe McGuffin, Devynn Patterson and Camille Provencal
starred together on the strips for four years and the sextet also added scores
of honors in the classroom. All six fencers were recently named Academic
All-Big Ten honorees.
Bickford, along with swimming's Shelby Johnson and Tobias
Reitz from men's tennis, claimed the Northwestern Director's Award for
maintaining the highest GPA among all student-athletes. Patterson, along with
men's golfer Sam Chien, was a recipient of the Big Ten Outstanding
Each of the Wildcats will move on to the "real world" soon.
Here are their plans for the future in their own words:
Kerry Bickford - Art History and
"After graduation, I will be spending the summer interning
for the Prints and Drawings Department at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well
as working for the Northwestern Summer Fencing Clinics. In the fall, I hope to
pursue a job in museum or gallery work, and eventually plan to apply to
graduate school to study Art History. I'm very excited to learn more about my
field and to start working toward my ultimate goal of becoming a curator."
Annelise Eeman - History and Religious
"This summer I'm interning at the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America Headquarters in Des Plaines, Ill. Come September, I'll be
back in Minnesota, enrolling at Luther Seminary to work on my Master of Arts in
Systematic Theology. The plan right now is to work on getting my doctorate to
teach, and maybe learning how to coach some fencing locally."
Grohman - Sociology and Science in Human Culture:
"After graduation I
am interested in pursuing clinical research before applying to medical school.
I am looking forward to working closely with both patients and physicians to
learn about different specialties, further my clinical experience and to better
prepare me for a career in medicine!"
Chloe McGuffin - Mechanical
"After graduation I will be joining Boeing's commercial
aircraft division as a Payloads Engineer. I will be working on the 747 line of
aircraft in the Seattle area. I look forward to putting all the skills and
knowledge I have gained at Northwestern into practice to improve the experience
of air travelers worldwide."
Devynn Patterson - Learning and Organizational
"After graduation I will be joining Teach For America as a
2012 Corps Member in the Bay Area! I have been assigned to teach either
elementary school or middle school in the South Bay, which is comprised of San
Jose, Mountain View and the surrounding areas. I am very excited to begin what
will be an eye-opening two-year commitment to help close the nation's
educational achievement gap. I look forward to continue working with kids and
becoming a teacher!"
Camille Provencal-Dayle - Political
"After graduation I will be joining Devynn Patterson as a
Teach For America 2012 Corps Member in Greater New Orleans. I look forward to
teaching secondary math, a subject youth in the United States continue to
falling behind in comparison to their international peers. My experience on the
Northwestern Fencing team has given me the tools to understand how to motivate
and challenge others, as well as learn to be challenged. I am excited to apply
skills gained both on the strip and in the classroom to my future students."
It's been a busy and exciting time for Northwestern fencing! With the Winter quarter finishing up, so is our season, and everyone can quickly feel the escalation leading up to NCAA Nationals over Spring break.
Last weekend, we traveled back to NYC for one more go at some of the best teams in the country. In my last post I promised some exciting news and hopefully some hardware, and I can happily say that I kept that promise!
The foil and saber squads secured bronze medals and the epee squad fought their way to silver, helping Northwestern finish second in overall team standings. With wins over teams such as St. John's, Columbia and Penn, it was a great morale boost heading into the three most important weekends of our season. But with such a whirlwind trip and not getting back to campus until past midnight on Sunday... it was clear that the 'Cats needed some R & R before getting back into to the gym.
Have you guys not learned by now that if you pass out, I WILL take a picture of you? Also, shout out to the nice old man who let Kendrick take a catnap on his shoulder.
We spent the week training hard, but keeping it light-hearted as well. It's easy to get caught up in the intensity of post-season action. I know I want to enjoy every moment of the rest of this amazing season, and stressing out never helps! This week we also finished up one of the best fencing clinics we've ever had. Seeing such a fun and lively group of kids get so excited about the sport of fencing really reminds us all why we're here in the first place. Thank you to all the kids for coming out and being so great- I can honestly say we learn from them just as much as they learn from us.
We're loading up the bus and heading out to Notre Dame for the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships, which is sure to be a jam-packed and high-intensity weekend. Saturday is the individual event, while Sunday our squads will duke it out with the best of the conference to hopefully bring home some titles. Follow along on twitter @NCatFencing, and check back for my recap next weekend!
After finishing up the regular season with NU Duals, most of the team enjoyed a relaxing weekend off at home in Evanston. However, six of our freshmen stayed on their grind and traveled to Salt Lake City for the Junior Olympic Fencing Championships! Since my weekend consisted of an extended Always Sunny marathon and staring bewilderedly at my biogeography homework, I thought I'd hand over the blogging reigns for this post. Check out foilist Mary Spohn's recap of the freshmen's exciting weekend out West!
Salt Lake City, Utah: Home of Skiing, Mormons, and... fencing? Yes, fencing. On February 16th, Sarah Bruhl and I departed from Patten Gym at 3:30 in the morning to make the trip to JOs. Upon arrival, we persuaded our coach to allow a quick nap (translation: 3 hours), got our equipment checked, and prepared for competition the next day. The competition on Friday was exciting and proved to have many ups and downs. In the end, I finished 52nd and Sarah finished 69th, out of a field of 141 fencers.
The next day our epee 'Cats competed, and once again freshman Courtney Dumas earned some hardware with an impressive 8th-place finish! Freshman Rose Semmel followed in 22nd, and Sonali Patel in 74th, out of a strong field of 151 fencers. Claire Carson, our only representing Sabre fencer, drew a difficult first round, but fenced well and showed a good fight. Then, in perhaps what was the highlight of the trip, our epee squad proved its dominance by tearing through the competition in the epee team event. The girls fought all the way to a Bronze medal for the 'Cats!
All in all, I would say that it was a solid weekend of fencing for the freshmen 'Cats in Salt Lake City. Even better was the support all my teammates displayed, cheering each other on in between bouts. We also had the pleasure of seeing our future Wildcat teammates, all decked out in Northwestern gear already (little do they know they will soon be spending the majority of their lives in purple...). The soon-to-be 'Cats finished with strong results as well and cheered us on every step of the way. While it was a memorable weekend and we were sad to leave the sunny weather and scenic view of the mountains, we are glad to be back on campus and preparing for our final competitions of the year!
We're all extremely proud of our freshmen and future Wildcats for representing Northwestern so well this weekend! And while breaks are nice, I know I'm already itching to get back out on the strip. This Saturday, our travel squads will be heading back to New York City to compete in the National Squad Championships- a relay style tournament with the best of the best in attendance. It's sure to be an extremely intense weekend, so check back next week for what I predict to be some exciting results!
First and foremost, I want to apologize for my lack of recent bloggage. It's been a hectic time as we've been in the process of closing out our regular season. In addition, it didn't help that my laptop had a showdown with the pavement of Sheridan Rd. (pavement won, unfortunately). But as my coaches have always taught me- "no excuses, just results" and luckily, I have plentyyyyyy of results to share with everyone as well!
Our regular season dual meets closed out with the 'Cats finally getting to stay a little closer to home. First, we traveled to the always-lovely town of South Bend, Indiana to compete in the Notre Dame Duals. The day began on a high note and stayed that way, as we worked our way through 8 straight wins over teams such as Lawrence, Florida, Iowa, and Wayne State. It was then time for the match-up of the day: Northwestern vs. the defending national champions- Notre Dame.
Due to the recent addition of NCAA fencing to ESPN broadcasting, it was decided that the match would be filmed as a promotional segment for March's NCAA National Championships. With one of the biggest crowds we've ever fenced for in attendance, we took on the Irish one squad at a time. The Sabre squad fell to the Irish with a score of 1-8, but the Foil squad brought back momentum by defeating their top-ranked foil squad with a score of 5-4. Epée fought hard next, but ultimately a 4-5 loss gave the Irish an overall 17-10 win.
Some great video footage of each squad's match can be seen on the Notre Dame Athletics website here.
The last couple of weekends we've enjoyed the luxury of back-to-back home meets- a great feeling after five consecutive weeks on the road. Being able to fence on campus and in front of our friends and family is always an awesome experience. The installments of the NU Duals didn't disappoint- a 15-2 finish for the 'Cats, Coach Laurie picking up his 1,100th win in the process, and of course our traditional Senior Recognition ceremony. So much excitement just reminded again me how truly special it is be a part of this team. Congratulations to Coach, and special thank you to everyone that came out to support us!
We've officially wrapped up the regular season, and are looking forward to two weekends of fun competition before the chaos of postseason action picks up in March. I know this team has great things in store for Conference Championships, Regionals, and NCAA Nationals- thank you for following along!
P.S.- To Juice Thompson, if you're reading this right now- our girl Tina Umanskiy wants to know if you'd like to be her Valentine this year....? Thanks!
Evanston, Ill. -- When's the last time you heard of kids learning medieval sword techniques on an average school day in Evanston?
On Friday, January 28, Dewey Elementary third and fourth graders participated in an interactive fencing session led by the Northwestern Wildcat women's fencing team. Beyond a lively discussion about the lore and literal history of fencing, students learned about each weapon, the foil, sabre and epée, and just how real the sport of fencing is today.
Fencing weapons (the plastic variety) and gear were handled and basic techniques were shared and practiced. Students also learned a bit about what it takes to balance the rigors of a top university education with the training and travel of a highly competitive sport.
"This is really cool," commented fourth graders as they practiced proper lunge techniques.
Other students were eager to share personal stories of their exposure to the sport, and there was a ripple of enthusiasm about watching fencing in the upcoming Olympic Games.
"I know I have grown up a lot from this sport and without it I would not be at Northwestern University," says NU fencer Alicia Gurrieri. "The individual aspect [of fencing] forces competitors to always solve problems on their own and try harder each day."
Dewey teachers strive to regularly impart such lessons to students. Physical education teacher Julie Stevenson explained, "The involvement with NU reinforces what I am telling my students and it gives them a real life role-model that they can aspire to be like in terms of academics, character, and athletics."
Dewey and Northwestern are planning more fencing sessions as well as a fine arts extension, where students will advance their life drawing skills in renderings of fencing poses.
Friday's session was the latest in a diverse series of collaborations between the Dewey Wellness Committee and Northwestern University student-athletes from many of the 19 varsity sports. The fencing team first volunteered at Dewey's International Walk to School Day event last October when fencers were bombarded with questions from eager students.
"Today was a natural extension of the October event," said Stephanie Fine, parent and co-chair of the Dewey Wellness Committee. "Students were eager to learn about fencing, the fencers were very generous with their time, and the school embraced the opportunity. We look forward to future collaborations."
The team has just wrapped up one of our busiest and most important weekends of the season. On Saturday we faced six schools at the Philadelphia Invitational, and on Sunday we went up against six more at the New York University Invitational. Although this was only week three, I already feel as if we've completed a huge piece of the season, and I'm sure my teammates would agree with me.
Our trip started out early Friday afternoon. Thanks to the blizzard Chicago was hit with that morning, we were held up on the runway for quite some time. The optimistic and dedicated 'Cats decided to use the delay as a chance to put the "student" in student-athlete:
After a relatively short flight, we were finally on the east coast. Arriving in Philadelphia was a lot like arriving in Hawaii, except it was the exact opposite. After what I can only hope was not the scenic route to our hotel, we settled in at The Inn at Penn. Every year we stay at this hotel, and it has quickly become one of our favorites. The rooms are amazing, the people are super friendly, and the breakfast actually inspires me to wake up earlier than seven minutes before our scheduled departure time. This year they even added an iPad to each of our rooms, which was perfect for playing 20 games of Temple Run reviewing some film before turning in for the night.
We started the competitive weekend off on a high note, cruising through North Carolina, NJIT, Drew and Cornell. Our first challenge presented itself when we faced the host school, University of Pennsylvania. We found ourselves down 12-11 (14 bouts are needed to win a match). It had been a while since we felt that kind of pressure to pull out a win, which was evident when our infamous fencing screaming (which I think caught our new trainer, John, a little off guard) immediately filled up the room. Thankfully, a late win from the foil squad and last-round sweep by epée propelled us to a hard fought 15-12 victory.
The Dream Team: Coach Ed Kaihatsu, Manager Dan Oh and Trainer John Lee
Our next challenge presented itself in an old rival- Temple University. Each squad knew that this would be our biggest challenge of the day, as Temple is stacked in each weapon. True to prediction, we found ourselves tied at 13-13, with one last epee bout as the deciding factor. Unfortunately, a hard fought bout did not turn in our favor, and the 'we were handed our first loss of the season.
Next on the itinerary was the trip to New York City. Along the way, the Cats made a pit stop in New Jersey at foilist Becky Grohman's house. Her parents were nice enough to host us for a wonderful dinner, and I'd like to extend a special thank you to them on behalf of the whole team.
The next day was one full of highs and lows as well. The team started the day with back-to-back wins against Yale and a tough Wayne State team, but experienced déjà vu of the previous day with a close 13-14 loss to Columbia, and 12-15 loss to Ohio State. The day finished strong, however, with a dominant 21-6 win over host school NYU, and the Cats were finally on our way home from the longest weekend of the season.
"Girls focus, don't stick out your tongues."
While we may have hoped for better results from the weekend, I have to say that the volume levels during our matches rivaled most sporting events I've attended. I can't express how proud I am of the team for supporting each other with such intensity. I'm especially proud of our freshmen starters- Claire Carson, Courtney Dumas, and Sonali Patel -for being forces to be reckoned with already. Anyone can head back to practice and work out technical mistakes, but the passion I witnessed from my teammates this weekend is something that can never be taught in a gym.
I apologize for the lengthy post- I had a lot of ground to cover with back-to-back meets! After a day off, we're back at it and excited to be training for the upcoming Notre Dame duals. I hope everyone is having a wonderful week, and of course, go 'Cats!
PS- Update: Apparently freshman Tina Umanskiy changed her twitter name following my last post, but never fear- @UtheMANskiy (idk... I guess she thinks it's clever?)
I hope everyone has had a wonderful start to 2012! As I've said before, I'm so excited to keep everyone updated on the team's doings, and I truly appreciate (most) feedback I've received from the first post. I was told that I sounded like I "wanted to beat someone up" in my last post (which I must argue, comes with the job description of being a fencer), so I promise to keep this one a bit lighter. I was also told that I should start bullet-pointing my posts so that they're easier to read, to which I must say, Ian Farr... are you 8 years old? Moving on.
The beginning of the year has been extremely busy for the team, with non-stop training, traveling, and competing. We opened the season with a trip to Air Force for our first dual meet, and then this past weekend some 'Cats ventured a little farther west to Portland for a Division 1 North American Cup, which I'll recap later on.
And while the chaos has taken its toll on us all....
The hard work is paying off already!
At Air Force, the Wildcats defeated schools such as Stanford, Cal Tech and Florida to finish the day undefeated against six teams. Overall, the team won 153 of the 162 bouts of the day and went on to become the Western Invitational Champs. It was great witnessing everyone reach their individual goals, and an awesome note to start the season off on as a team!
Typically, our first meet of the season is somewhere in California, so I was a bit salty to travel to a city (Colorado Springs, CO) arguably colder than Chicago. However, witnessing the plethora of rules and super strict culture at Air Force Academy opened my eyes to how much freedom I do have fencing for Northwestern, for which I am eternally grateful. (Shout-out to the coaches for letting our multiple self-granted water breaks at practice slide, truly 'preciate ya)
This past weekend, a handful of 'Cats traveled to Portland, Oregon, for the Division 1 North American Cup. Upon arriving in the city, it was clear to me that I could throw a rock in the air and it would hit at least five disgruntled hipsters on its way down, so naturally Devynn Patterson was back in her element. I made the long trip out West with Dev and Camille Provencal, two fine ladies who have been forced to endure my company around the clock for the past two-plus years. It was nice to have some time to explore the city and we even make a stop at the Food Network famous Voodoo Doughnuts!
Seven of us 'Cats competed this weekend in Portland. Although the tournament is non-collegiate, everyone was excited to get back on the strip, though perhaps a bit disappointed in our overall results.
Post-competition, I received some great advice from a wise reader: "You can't let one thing beat you twice." Competing at such a high level provided us with great practice for the upcoming matches we have, and allowed us to get in some high-quality bouts with girls we are sure to face in the near future in collegiate play, so I'm confident that the team will only grow and learn from the experience.
This upcoming weekend, we're bracing ourselves for a marathon of fencing- Philadelphia Invitational on Saturday, then on to the New York Invitational on Sunday. Needless to say, we've become regulars at O'Hare once again and I'm beginning to feel a little like Tom Hanks' character in the Terminal, but I wouldn't have it any other way (the frequent flier miles don't hurt, either). I've seen what this team is capable of, and I know that we can't wait to prove ourselves against some of the absolute top competition in the country this weekend.
Thanks so much for following us along our season, and of course, go 'Cats!
PS- Be sure to follow the team on Twitter! @NCatFencing
PPS- Follow foilist Tina Umanskiy (@tweena11) as well, if you're into the excessive ramblings of an angsty freshman (you're welcome, teenie).
Evanston, Ill. -- Charlotte Remenyik, the woman credited with revitalizing the Northwestern fencing program in the mid-1970's, passed away on December 21, 2011.
Remenyik took the reins in 1976 and led the Wildcats to a spotless 9-0 record and a Big Ten title in her first year. The next year produced similar results with a 6-2 overall mark and a second straight Big Ten title. Following the 1977-78 campaign, Laurie Schiller took over head coaching duties and has been at the helm ever since.
Remenyik's contributions to Northwestern fencing are recognized every October when the 'Cats host the Remenyik Open which attracts top competition from around the country for an exciting weekend.
A memorial service for Remenyik will be held Saturday, January 14 in Cleveland, Ohio. The service will be held at 2 p.m. EST at St. Emeric Church, which is located at 1860 W. 22nd St. It will be held primarily in Hungarian.
In lieu of flowers, the Remenyik family has asked that contributions be made to:
The American/Hungarian Friends of Scouting P.O. Box 6783 Cleveland, Ohio 44101
Countless times I've heard this statement thrown my way, the
sender usually laughing absentmindedly and possessing no remorse for the
discouraging words they've hit me with. Growing up, I was quick to retort with a
carefully calculated comeback. I could hope to impress them with facts ("a
fencer's sword is the fastest moving
object in sports after a bullet!") or hit them with some history ("fencing is
one of only four original Olympic
sports!"), but usually it was to no avail. I learned to sit back and play it
cool as my life's passion was turned into a mockery for the sake of
Perhaps the hardest pill to swallow when basing your life
around a sport that receives little to no attention on the collegiate level is
the feeling of wasted passion. Completing your tenth practice of the week, jetting
back and forth between continents, and finishing schoolwork on the side is no
easy feat; it is also never one fencers demand credit for. However, one cannot
help but feel a certain sting when told that all this hard work is for
something silly and trivial, something that can be mocked, and something that
is not even considered a "real sport."
The overall experience of competing in an often-unrecognized
sport led me to think about sportsmanship and athleticism in general. Who gets
to decide which sport is "real" and which is "fake"? Who has the authority to
call one person an athlete, but deny that title to another? And finally, what
is truly the makeup of a real athlete? I observe my teammates day in and day
out, and am constantly inspired by their determination and work ethic. Watching
such an outstanding group of girls over the last couple years has made me truly
recognize what athleticism is at its best.
It's getting one more workout in when you're already tired
and falling apart. It's staying after practice because you know going the extra
mile will ultimately pay off in the end. It's meetings with coaches, watching
film, and taking endless amounts of notes. It's spending every waking moment
with your teammates, and knowing you can count on them just like they count on
you- both inside and outside of the gym. It's the unparalleled feeling of life
that will elevate any athlete, no matter how many people are in the stands,
when given the chance to finally compete and prove yourself.
In the end it's living and breathing your sport and devoting
yourself to something that becomes a part of you. This is an experience any
athlete can relate to, regardless of the sport that they have dedicated their
lives to. Most importantly, it is knowing that while the work may seem painful
and endless, the reward is greater than anything every imaginable.
I'm truly blessed to be surrounded by a team that is the
epitome of athleticism. It's been a busy first week back, full of workouts,
yoga, practice and a Purple and White meet. Soon, we'll be on our way to the
first meet of the regular season at Air Force [Saturday, Jan. 7]. For the past
six years, Northwestern Fencing has been unbeaten in season-opening dual meets-
a tradition we fully intend on continuing with the six teams we face this
Thank you for following us along on our journey, and I'm so
excited to keep everyone updated all season long!
Wednesday, Oct. 5, Northwestern student-athletes participated in International
Walk to School Day, an event for middle and elementary school students around
the world designed to encourage physical activity and combat childhood obesity.
Northwestern's women's fencing team gathered on street corners around Dewey
Elementary School early this morning to cheer on students taking part in the
event by walking or riding their bicycles to school.
was great!" said Alicia Gurrieri, a junior fencer from Medford, N.J. "It was
exciting to see kids who were enthusiastic to be going to school on such a
beautiful day outside. We cheered them on and I really hope the kids enjoyed
event, started in 1997, was spurred on by First Lady Michelle Obama's Let's
Move! Campaign, an initiative designed to increase physical activity and
encourage parents to make healthy choices. According to a press release from
the city, Evanston students joined 2,233 other schools in the country and 42
other countries around the world in the effort to promote fitness.
kids proudly held handmade signs, counted their steps to school, followed safe
walking routes designated by the school district, and raced school buses on
their final blocks to school," said Event Coordinator Stephanie Fine in an
email. "One ambitious kindergartener even dressed up in his very own Dewey
tiger costume! Upon arrival at school, students were surprised with tiger paw
stickers and Northwestern pencils, both sure to keep the walking topic top of
mind for some time."
Walk To School Day also serves to raise awareness of schools' safe walking
routes and environmental benefits due to reduced car trips. During drop-off and
pick-up hours, area traffic in Evanston and Skokie increases by an estimated 25
percent, according to the City of Evanston's news release.
this global effort to decrease the environmental footprint while improving
health and wellness, Dewey students joined children and families worldwide to
show the power of unified efforts to improve world and personal health. This
has been a topic at the school from some weeks leading up to the event, with
teachers and families accessing ideas and resources via walktoschool.org and
making up their own fun activities," said Fine.
an email to parents and students, Superintendent of Schools Hardy Murphy echoed
year, District 65 has joined with many community partners to collaborate on a
variety of initiatives seeking to promote health and wellness in our schools. As
the global community continues to get smaller, a gesture like walking to school
when executed by thousands of children across the world can have a universal