On the Fence About Fencing

Winter Athletes Should Consider Fencing


In 2022, the men’s sabre team won 3rd place in team states.

Muntara Singh and Zoe Ruggiero

The Morgan Fencing Team earned many accolades at the 2022 Conference Championships.

Every winter season, a mystery occurs in the Morgan gym. From daily two hour practices, to evening matches, to Saturday tournaments, what does The Morgan Fencing Team do? Visions of The Three Musketeers, The Princess Bride, and Pirates of the Caribbean may come to mind. These misperceptions are common, and they can affect students’ consideration in joining the team. Luckily, in the wake of its most successful season yet, and in hopes of recruiting a dozen new fencers, The Morgan Fencing Team is here to demystify the mystery

There are three styles of fencing with different equipment, including separate blades, that are used based on the discipline. Sabre is considered the fastest, with opponents slashing and striking the torso, arms, and head. Foil is the most common style, with opponents able to hit the torso. Epee is a thoughtful form, with opponents able to hit the entire body from head to toe. Regardless of the style, fencing requires fast reactions coupled with quick reasoning, especially in sabre and foil, where right of way is needed to be awarded a touch, or point.

In 2022, State Senator Norm Needleman and State Representative Christine Goupil presented state proclamations to individual state champions Kyra Savage and Oliver Baker.

The Morgan Fencing Team, founded by Head Coach Jim Barnett in 2010, is one of the most decorated in the state, emerging as a force to be reckoned with in recent years despite its lack of recognition. Accomplishments include team and individual honors, with nine First Team All-State squads, four Second Team All-State squads, four CIAC Scholar Athletes, five Top Three State Open squads, ten First Team All-Conference squads, twelve Conference Scholar Athletes, and two Conference Champion squads. Coach Barnett remarked that the 2021-22 season was “the best year ever” because two Morgan fencers won Individual State Championships. Then-senior Kyra Savage won for Women’s Sabre and then-junior Oliver Baker won for Men’s Epee. With 13 seasoned seniors this year, the team has a lot of experience under their belt. The impressive lineup looks forward to taking home more individual and team championships.

The question arises: why are prospective fencers so hesitant to join such a decorated team? Current fencers have spoken to the misconceptions they had about the sport before joining. The team covers the cost of most equipment, including bags, blades, and protective gear, and for students concerned about financial limitations, the necessary items can be purchased at a reduced price from Coach Barnett. Senior Captain Shannon O’Brien shared how she thought fencing was all sword fighting like in the movies, and how she worried about getting hurt. Her fears were quickly dispelled once she started learning, though. Safety is first and foremost when teaching rookies, and on the strip, fencers wear protective gear so that hits do not hurt. Morgan Fencing Alum Maggie O’Donnell, now a freshman at Fairfield University, said she was surprised by how physically and mentally demanding the sport was, as well as the level of skill and endurance. Plainly stated, Senior Captain Noah Borkowski had no idea what fencing was. 

Senior Noah Borkowski

Students unsure about fencing are encouraged to attend the first week of conditioning, where they can meet the team and ask questions while playing games and getting ready for the season. “It doesn’t hurt my feelings when people come to conditioning, realize fencing isn’t for them, and decide not to join the team,” emphasized Coach Barnett. Noah said he got hooked into the sport by going to conditioning and getting a feel for the team: the camaraderie, the support, the unity. Shannon reflected on her years so far with Morgan Fencing: “We are for real a close team. When someone on this team wins, it’s a victory for everyone.” 

Senior Kyra Savage

This year, conditioning will be held the week of November 28th at The Morgan School. Fencers are asked to wear athletic clothes appropriate for the weather and to bring a water bottle. Registration for the team can be completed on FamilyID with this link. Updates can be found on the team Instagram page: @morganfencing. “Trying something new is something you’re going to need to do for the rest of your life,” said Morgan Fencing Alum Kyra Savage, who is now a freshman at Bucknell University. “You won’t find what you love until you try it.”