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Watch four U.S. Olympic hopefuls get the surprise of a lifetime

Posted on Jul 26, 2016 in News | Comments Off on Watch four U.S. Olympic hopefuls get the surprise of a lifetime

Watch four U.S. Olympic hopefuls get the surprise of a lifetime

Armonk Fencer Heads To World Championships

Posted on Mar 21, 2016 in News | Comments Off on Armonk Fencer Heads To World Championships

Armonk Fencer Heads To World Championships
Champion fencer Sylvie Binder presenting a check to the United Nations Human Rights Office. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

Champion fencer Sylvie Binder presenting a check to the United Nations Human Rights Office. Photo Credit: Sam Barron

ARMONK, N.Y. — Armonk fencer Sylvie Binder is getting ready to represent her country at the 2016 World Championships in France.

Binder, 16, is raising money for the trip via a MyRallycampaign. Ten percent of the funds will be donated to the United Nations Human Rights Office.

The Armonk teen is part of the United States’ national team for people under 19 and under 17 and competes against fencers all over the world. Getting to see the world is one of Binder’s biggest thrills.

“I get to experience so many different cultures,” Binder said. “I get to interact with different people and I’d never get that from anywhere else.”

Binder started fencing when she was seven and her family was looking to find her a sport. On a family camping trip, a friend mentioned she should try fencing because she was so well coordinated and she went to the Fencing Academy in Hawthorne and quickly took to it.

Balancing school and fencing can be a challenge for the high school junior, but she says she has it under control..

“My teachers are all so great, they are all so great,” Binder said. “I’m often on planes doing my math homework. But I get it done.”

Binder is looking at colleges where she can fence, with a lot of colleges offering opportunities on the East Coast. Going to Tokyo for the 2020 Summer Games is also not far from Binder’s mind.

“I’ll see where fencing takes me,” Binder said. “Each season I’ve progressed in different ways. I just want to keep improving. I don’t plan on stopping. Who knows how far I’ll go.”

Binder said fencing is a great sport to give both your mind and body a good workout.

“It’s a good sport to try even if you’re a beginner,” Binder said. “You learn about coordination and your mind is trying to catch up to what your body is doing. I am grateful for all fencing has given me. It’s opened so many doors for me and I’ve met so many great people.”

Student Spotlight: Ana Cristian, Pope High School

Posted on Mar 21, 2016 in News | Comments Off on Student Spotlight: Ana Cristian, Pope High School

Student Spotlight: Ana Cristian, Pope High School

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Today’s Student Spotlight is with Ana Cristian, a junior at Alan C. Pope High School in Cobb County. Ana, 17, is a USA Fencing All-Academic First Team member and the 2014-15 Women’s Champion for the Georgia High School Fencing League. She volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and the Red Cross, serves as a peer tutor in French, and is a member of the National Honor Society, the Science National Honor Society, the National English Honor Society, Mu Alpha Theta, the French Club, and Foreign Languages of Pope.

She shares here about her wide range of interests – fencing, volunteer work, calculus, French – and the teachers who’ve made a difference in her education.

Tell us about your experience in Georgia’s public schools. What aspects of your education have been most valuable to you? What has been most challenging?
For me, I love learning about something new and instantly being able to apply it and make connections to what is going on directly around me and on a global scale. It is so cool to learn something in Calculus and see it also apply to physics, or to learn about a small event in history and see how it has had a huge impact on our modern lives. Furthermore, I like the opportunities that I get to learn about the world and WHY it functions the way it does, not just how. Many of my current and past teachers have been incredibly passionate about what they teach, and they have imparted that passion onto me, going above and beyond just teaching the curriculum. Those are always the best classes:  when the entire class is attentive and desires to learn because the teacher does a great job teaching in a fun and engaging manner. An aspect that has been challenging for me is finding the time to juggle everything that I do. Between good grades, AP classes, fencing, and volunteering, I struggle with finding time for myself. The phrase “a good night’s sleep” has definitely taken on a new meaning for me during my junior year. Fortunately, most of my teachers are understanding and can relate to the stress and exhaustion that I often feel, and they do not mind making adjustments to schedules to meet the preferences of students.

How has your extracurricular involvement (including through the Georgia High School Fencing League) enhanced your educational experience?
Joining fencing has undoubtedly changed my life. I used to be very reserved, but now I always feel confident and empowered. Contrary to what many might believe, consistently going to fencing practice has not hurt my grades either, because I have had to adapt and learn how to develop a work ethic to meet the growing demands of both school and fencing. Outside of fencing, volunteering has really expanded my horizons and made me get out of my comfort zone, and I have made a lot of friends in the process. Being in French Club and Foreign Languages of Pope has developed what used to be just a knack for speaking French into a full-time passion, and it has led me to consider doing a semester abroad in France when I am in college.

What do you hope to do after graduating high school – and how has your education prepared you for that next step?
I want to go fence NCAA at a college like Northwestern or Duke or stay in state and go to Georgia Tech. I am still deciding between the two, since both have benefits and downsides. I would also like to possibly do a semester abroad, but that would depend on where I go to college. In regards to French, I definitely feel like my current French teacher has been a catalyzer in making me passionate about it because she has taught French in a manner that is so easy to pick up on. Even though I already spoke another language (Romanian) before starting to learn French, I still do not think it would have been as easy to grasp had I not had her as a teacher. In my core subject classes, I have had lots of great teachers across the board who have made learning a lot less daunting. For example, with math, it was always a subject which I enjoyed but never thought I could do at a very complex level until I took Calculus. Most people hear Calculus and think, “Oh, that’s what my nightmares are made of!” but my teacher did such a great job teaching it and helping me understand all aspects of Calculus that I am even considering a major in math now.

What advice would you give to other students? 
If you are a nerd like me who used to think that you cannot be smart and athletic at the same time, I really recommend that you dissolve that mentality and try fencing. It is fun, active, and intelligent, and many call it “chess with swords” because of the strategy and tactics that happen behind every single action. You do not have to do it professionally to reap the mental and physical rewards – just try it out a few times at the numerous fencing clubs in Georgia and see if you like it. For me, it helped me get out of my comfort zone and turned me into a more confident person. My grades did not suffer at all, and fencing gave me a way to relax and have fun. Most importantly, it opened up new doors and opportunities to pursue a sport into, and possibly through, college, which is something that I never imagined I would do.

Fencing and the college advantage

Posted on Feb 9, 2016 in News | Comments Off on Fencing and the college advantage

Fencing and the college advantage

Having fencing listed as an interest on your child’s college application could “make the difference between going to a ‘good’ college or university and a ‘great’ college or university.”[1]Fencing gives that extra advantage when applying to higher education.  Of course academia is important, but fencing gives the impression that thestudent is well-rounded on a whole additional level than most sports.

Often referred to as “physical chess,” fencing is one of the few sports that exhibits a combination of physical prowess, mental acuity, and strategic thinking – and colleges eat this up.

For example, Columbia University welcomes fencers with open arms by stating on their website that … “Good colleges are looking for good students who will contribute to their college.  Each year, some straight A students with 1600 SAT’s are rejected by colleges (don’t worry, they get in someplace) because they have little to offer; they simply regurgitate information … they have no creative spirit.  The fencer is unique.  The fencer brings experiences that enrich the college, just as an accomplished poet or violinist do.  This is the type of person the Admissions Directors like to have represented in their stacks of applicants. Being a fencer is a distinct advantage for the college applicant.”[2]

Duke University recently accepted 17 new student athletes for their fencing team.  As head coach, Alex Beguinet, states:  “This has been an especially difficult year for students seeking admission to Duke, and we are very proud to call all of these incoming fencers Blue Devils [team name].”[3] Many don’t know that fencing is an NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) sport.

Fencing has a strong presence in the NCAA — more than 30 top tier colleges in the United States have an NCAA fencing team, as well as 100 other colleges.  Schools compete against each often, so colleges need good fencers to fill their ranks.  This can give the competitive edge your child needs to gain acceptance into a top level university.

Here is a listing   of all the colleges and universities with NCAA-endorsed fencing teams. Beyond giving that critical edge for acceptance into a top tier school, many colleges offer full or partial fencing scholarships including[4]

  • University of Notre Dame who offers full scholarships to fencers with high academic scores annually.
  • Stanford has some of the best fencing teams around, and scholarships available to fencers with top grades.
  • Columbia has a special fencing scholarship award, the Herbert C. Spiselman Memorial Endowment for Fencing, which covers the cost of competitions.
  • Penn State offers a “Women’s Fencing Scholarship” endowment of $50,000 earmarked for women fencers who exhibit superior fencing talent and have strong academic marks.
  • Reed College (Portland, Oregon) hosts the Williams Scholarship Fencing Tournament each year and awards the top 3 finishers $10,000 in scholarship money to students who require financial aid.

It’s not just schools that offer fencing scholarships.  Some clubs and organizations have scholarship programs as well[5]

  • The Fencing Institute of Texas offers two $500 scholarships to undergraduate fencers who are attending or are accepted at an accredited university.
  • The NCAA offers approximately 34 Division I and II (men’s) and 43 Division I and II (women’s) fencing team scholarships.
  • The NCAA also sponsors a one-time $7,500 post-graduate scholarship for a student in his/her final season of intercollegiate fencing competition.
  • Some local clubs or teams may also have money earmarked for scholarships, so it is wise to ask around!


The fencing advantage Fencing is one of the few sports that has longevity throughout college and beyond.  32% of male fencers and 38% female fencers who competed in high school will continue to compete on a college level with a partial or full scholarship.  Compare that to football that only sees about 7.8% of its students continue with the sport in college or the 5.9% (male) and 6.3% (female) in basketball.[6]


School Sponsored Sport High Schoolboys  College men % competing in College
Fencing 1,925 622 32.30%
Gymnastics 2,353 346 14.70%
Ice Hockey 35,732 4,181 11.70%
Lacrosse 100,641 11,748 11.70%
Baseball 474,219 53,241 11.20%
Rifle 2,561 237 9.30%
Soccer 412,351 36,741 8.90%
Golf 152,725 12,147 8.00%
Football 1,121,744 87,256 7.80%
Water Polo 20,721 1,610 7.80%
Swimming & Diving 133,823 10,304 7.70%
Cross Country 248,494 17,691 7.10%
Track & Field (excl x-country) 645,513 45,218 7.00%
Basketball 535,569 31,473 5.90%
Skiing 10,072 560 5.60%
Tennis 195,960 10,122 5.20%
Volleyball 49,467 2,004 4.10%
Wrestling 272,149 8,969 3.30%
Snowboarding 711 21 3.00%
Archery 812 22 2.70%
Bowling 28,292 595 2.10%
Cycling n/a 76 n/m
Cycling n/a 124 n/m
Equestrian 188     45 n/m
Rodeo 110 1,364 n/m
Rowing 2,464 2,994 n/m
Rugby n/a 310 n/m
Sailing n/a 547 n/m
Sprint Football n/a 385 n/m
Squash n/a 463 n/m
Badminton 4,573
School Sponsored Sport

High School Girls

College Women

% competing

in College





Ice Hockey












Synchronized Swimming




Water Polo








Field Hockey




Cross Country








Track & Field (excl x-country)








Swimming & Diving












































Beach / Sand Volleyball




























Sand Volleyball








Bottom line:  Your child may not be thinking of fencing as they fill out their college applications, but maybe they should — especially if he or she has a passion and dedication to the sport.  Fencing can give your child that extra edge that’s needed to get into a great college. As one Yale student recalls: “The process of athletics recruitment can be daunting, and it can begin as early as sophomore year in high school: in many cases, it involves the preparation of various materials, like recruiting films (videos of you playing your sport), making “official visits,” filling out recruiting questionnaires, etc.” But, she notes, it’s all worth it, because … “Come December 15th, I was lucky enough to be celebrating three different acceptances through three separate early applications (one from my then-first choice school, and two from other early notification programs).”[7]


[1] Fencing for Fitness, Fun, and Medals, “Social Benefits” [website page].  Retrieved January 13, 2014 from 1/13/14.
[2] “Fencing & College” [web post].  Retrieved May 4, 2014 from
[3] “Duke Fencing Announces 17 New Signees” [web article] 23 May 2014.  Retrieved May 27, 2014 from
[4] “Athletic Fencing Scholarship Programs:  What You Need to Know to Get Recruited,” [web article].  Retrieved January 21, 2014
[5] “Athletic Fencing Scholarship Programs:  What You Need to Know to Get Recruited.” Op Cit.
[6] “Chances of a High School Athlete playing College Sports,”[web article].  Retrieved January 21, 2014 from
[7] “Emily’s Admission Story” [blog] 4 November 2011.  Retrieved May 27, 2014 from