Girls’ Fencing Is Victorious at States


The girls’ fencing team goes undefeated. (Source: Tamsen Peralta-Virtue (II))

For the sixth consecutive year, the Boston Latin School girls’ fencing team, led by captains Lucy Yu (I) and Tamsen Peralta-Virtue (II), claimed the title of state champions.

Last year, amidst an abnormal season with COVID-19 and the subsequent cancellation of the state tournament, the team faced several challenges. Due to health concerns from the pandemic, participation during the 2020-2021 season was minimal. The team struggled to get young members to join while school was taking place online. When the season began this year, the team focused on rebuilding.

Aside from the unusual difficulty of recruiting fencers, the team dealt with a major setback when all Boston Public Schools sports were put on pause from December 24, 2021 until January 18, 2022. Losing over three weeks of the season was not only incredibly disappointing for the athletes, but also put them at a disadvantage. While the BLS fencers missed their first meet of the season, other teams continued to practice and compete.

Flabia Carbajal (II), a fencer on the team who joined this year, said that the situation was “worrying, as we didn’t have much time to practice before states.” After returning from the pause, having limited team practices and shortened conditioning due to COVID-19 testing after school, the team was left less prepared as they would have liked for the state championship.

Despite the difficulties that they encountered, the team found great success upon their return. Winning the state championship was an exciting and unforgettable moment. Peralta-Virtue explains, “It’s crazy to be state champs so many years in a row. Winning states was an amazing feeling.” Earning the title again and fulfilling a desire to prove to past team members that they could win made the team proud of themselves and their accomplishments. Yu, who has been on the team since seventh grade, says, “It felt triumphant […] [that] what we were doing was validated.”

Although being reigning state champions is an incredible feat, it comes with the immense pressure to continue the streak started in 2016. Coming off of five championships, the team experienced a proud moment after earning the sixth. “It was [also] a relief. There’s always this pressure […] BLS always wins,” says Peralta-Virtue.

The team was originally established as a club before it became an official school sport. It is still the only fencing team to exist within BPS. For that reason, Yu feels that “fencing is a sport at BLS that has to be continuously proving ourselves because we had to fight our way into establishing ourselves […] and so, in a sense, winning states is more than just winning; it’s proving that we’re an actual team.”

On this year’s team, there are four graduating seniors, including Yu. It is always difficult when seniors leave, but the captains are confident that next year’s team will continue to succeed. The team tries not to be dependent on a few star performers but rather remain a well-rounded team that is consistent throughout the years. Although some new starting fencer roles will need to be filled, there is a lot of young talent and passion on the team. According to Peralta-Virtue, next year will be an opportunity for younger and less experienced fencers “to take on that leadership role and push themselves to be better than they were before.”

One team maintaining the title of state champions for six consecutive seasons is an accomplishment that is hardly ever seen in sports, but this year’s girls’ fencing team demonstrated that it is far from impossible, and they strive to continue this success into the future.