BLS Fencing Lunges Toward New Challenges


The BLS Fencing Team has participated in several State Championships in the past.

The Boston Latin School Fencing Team has officially started their season! They’re ready to become even stronger despite any challenges the COVID-19 pandemic may bring.

This team started approximately 10 years ago and has since proven to be one of the strongest teams at BLS as well as in the state. It has impressively earned five state championships along with several other awards, despite having a fairly recent beginning.

The team is divided into three subgroups, each with its own coach based on the distinct weapons used in this sport: Foil, Sabre and Épée. These smaller sections are further divided into women’s and men’s teams for competitions, but the groups practice together.

In early January, the team was permitted to begin practice. A season with the threat of COVID-19, however, is not an easy one. The team currently has 44 members, with a considerable number opting out of the season because of the pandemic. The team has had to take several steps at practice to maintain the health and wellbeing of their team and coaching staff.

The captains and coaching staff have created guidelines for the team to follow, including a daily self-screening, allowing only a limited number of fencers at team events, using personal water bottles and other equipment and wearing a face covering at all times. Most importantly, the team has to follow a “no touch” policy, maintaining a distance of six feet at all times.

Team captain Marcky Antonio (I) says, “We have about 20 fencers practicing a week, so it’s more limited.” Regardless of these safety measures, the team has stayed proactive during their time together at practice. Men’s Épée captain Stephen Yoshida (I) says, “Our team believes that we should focus on building up our physical endurance and strength before picking up our weapons, so we probably will not be facing any opponents soon.”

The team also remains hopeful for the 2021 season, as well as what is ahead of it. Coach Jason Sachs, who has been leading the BLS Fencing team for seven years, shared his goals for the upcoming season. He hopes “to compete, if possible, and defend [their] championship, should the COVID-19 situation subside.”

Coach Sachs adds, “[I want] to build the skills of our newer fencers. This year our focus is to develop a line of succession in the years to come, as a lot of the leaders of the team will be graduating this year.” With the pause on competing, the team hopes to use this time to focus on necessary skills to come back even better.

The team has remained in high spirits and has not let these restrictions get the better of it. Yoshida says, “When I went to my practice on Saturday, the restrictions had a minimal impact on our team’s performance and morale. There were a fair amount of fencers in the gym, and though the Saturday group was mainly filled with the newer fencers, we were able to connect well with each other.”

The fencers are used to only meeting once or twice a week, so even with the precautions in place, the team still has the coaching and instruction it needs. The team plans to continue its prowess and provide a safe environment for students to experience this great sport while being a part of a supportive community.