Montgomery High School Senior Julia Yoon (right) with her two teammates.
For senior Julia Yoon, fencing became a part of her life five years ago in seventh grade, when she first tried out a class at the Otto Kaufman recreation center.
She was a competitive swimmer at that time. Soon fencing became her main athletic focus.
“Fencing is more than just a sport to me,” Julia said. “I’ve met some of my best friends through the fencing community. I’ve learned how to control my emotions and set reasonable goals to improve myself. Plus, fencing has taught me about discipline and perseverance, and helped me develop as a student and person as well.”
Julia’s weapon of choice is the epee. In fencing, athletes choose between three types of weapons: foil, sabre, and epee. Each weapon differs in its target area and action of touch. While foil and epee compete with poking motions, sabre is defined by slashing motions of the blade.
More so, while the target area consists of only the upper body for foil and sabre, the target area for epee is the entire body. Points are scored when an athlete’s weapon makes contact with the opponent’s target area.
The MHS Girls Fencing team won the Somerset County Championship. Included in the photo are: Sabres: Dina Dank, Stuti Panchal, Joanna Passalaris. Epees: Emma Ni, Julia Yoon, and Amy Mao.
Julia fences both for the Montgomery High School girls fencing team, and the Medeo Fencing Club. She has competed across the country for her club team, and has helped lead the high school team to success as both an athlete and a captain.
“I’m not a fencing guru by any means,” Julia says, “but I do have insight on useful drills and mental training exercises that help the team. Last year as captain, I was focused on the athletic aspect of fencing. So I was always trying to push the underclassmen to be better fencers. But this year I’m a lot more focused on the team aspect. I’m lucky to be part of a talented, funny, and kind group of people who make bonding so natural.”
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While the high school girls fencing team has seen incredible athletic successes these past few seasons, the strong team bond is another strong indicator of the team’s success.
“The team is invaluable,” Julia says. “I’m a firm believer that if you’re surrounded by people who are trying to better themselves, then you’ll want to better yourself. The girls are so hardworking; I feel motivated to help them and work on my own fencing too. The team is also goofy; we really just have fun.”
The most memorable moment in Julia’s career was this current season at the Santelli Tournament, where more than 50 teams from around the state attended.
Montgomery’s epee squad placed first over Ridge High School. “In the past years we had always gotten second or third,” Julia says, “so placing first was rewarding, especially because it’s my senior year.”
Julia says “fencing is 99 percent mental. It’s really easy to get caught up in your nerves before a bout, but remember you’re fencing another person. I promise you; they’re nervous too. So just take a deep breath and keep going.”
Julia will continue her academic and athletic careers at Northwestern University. ■