A Lunge into Victory as PSAL City Champions: A Profile on the Bronx Science Girls’ Varsity Fencing Team

Winning the PSAL City Championship for a second year in a row, the team has built upon their successes.


Sam Chin

Here are the proud members of the Girls’ Varsity Fencing team holding their accomplishments!

With white uniforms and steel blades in hand, the Bronx Science’s Girls’ Varsity Fencing team dominated the Spring 2023 season, claiming the title of the PSAL City Championships for both Foil and Epee on May 20th, 2023. Foil and Epee are the two competitive sectors in student fencing, with this current victory marking the second consecutive year that our school has won a PSAL City Championship. Through rigorous conditioning, learning specific moves, and extreme dedication, our team has come out on top of nearly every tournament during the Spring 2023 season.

Although they’ve performed amazing feats, not many people know all about the Bronx Science Girls’ Varsity Fencing team or their achievements. Many don’t even know the reality or rules of fencing. Yet within the team, there exists a caring community, brought closer by the rarity and lack of recognition of the sport. 

The fencers of Bronx Science may have their matches, officially named bouts, individually, but this doesn’t stop their community from being tightly knit. There’s a sense of pride and joy for each member of the team, and each person is a source of support for their fellow fencers. 


I love the community. Everyone is super supportive: cheering on our teammates, showing sportsmanship by saluting, and high fiving,” said Emma McSherry ‘26. “I have met kind, smart, and talented people on the team, and I have learned so much from them.”

Practice sessions have not only been physically efficient, but have also been a breeding ground for new conversations and memories. Everyone is working on themselves in the same area, using each others’ advice to improve. “My favorite memory since joining the team was when I was losing pretty badly to my opponent. My team called a timeout and gave me some tips,” stated McSherry. “When I went back into the bout, I started getting consecutive points because of the amazing pointers my teammates gave me. When I fenced my opponent again at a later date, I won!” 

With their strong bond and connection, the Girls’ Varsity Fencing team is beyond just a team; they are truly family. Even in the beginning of the seasons, there’s a strong bond already formed. Each fencer is a new addition to the family, and considered one of importance, respect, and kindness. A new member this year, Isabel Goldfarb ’25 shared one fond memory that she with the team. “My favorite memory since joining the team was when my teammates all wished me a happy birthday. My birthday happened only a week after I joined the team, and at that point, I hadn’t been to practice more than twice. Despite that I had not said anything about my birthday, everyone on the team texted me about it, and all seemed enthusiastic. It feels nice to be part of such a warm and welcoming community.”


There’s a common goal in all three different types of fencing, with many givens in a typical match. These three types of fencing are Foil, Saber, and Epee. PSAL only includes Foil and Epee, as Saber is considered too dangerous for students. All bouts happen on a piste, casually referred to as a strip. Fencers are meant to hit their opponent with the end of their blade; the differences between the types  is mainly in the rules of the location of these hits. The way that foil fencing matches are determined, and points are counted, are with a specific system known as Right of Way

“This system is one of the most difficult things to master as a fencer,” explained Sam Chin ’24, a member of the team. “You not only need to learn and understand the rules but apply the mid-bout.”

The area of protection when fencing Foil is the chest. While Epee may allow points for any spontaneous touches of the blade on the body, Foil fencers would only get a point if they hit their opponent’s chest with the tip of their blade. Chin gave a bit more insight on the specific details of fencing foil. “I fence Foil, which is the kind of fencing that requires a wire vest called a lamé. The vest, which clips onto the electric strip as well as the blade, creates an open circuit. When one fencer’s blade makes contact with the opponent’s lamé, the circuit is closed and a light on the scoring box will go off. This signifies a point.” 

Pictured are the Class of 2023 seniors on the fencing team after an intense bout. (From left to right, Camila Kulahlioglu, Priscilla Xu, Leanna Auyeung, and Kaitlyn Youn) (Sam Chin)


Rules between both sectors might have the same moves, but the rules aren’t quite the same. Goldfarb said, “I fence Epee. The rules for Epee are relatively similar compared to foil or saber. When fencing epee, your entire body is a target and simultaneous touches are allowed. The goal is to get a touch before your opponent can score one on you.” Epee allows any and all spontaneous touches on the body from the tip of the blade, even a double touch. Speed and agility are important in all types of fencing, but they’re much more useful in epee. 

The dedication and hard work put into fencing isn’t simply for titles, as many on the team have very positive feelings about the sport and find fun in their bouts. Leena Mansperger ’24, an experienced and national competing fencer on the team, explained why she enjoys fencing. “My favorite part of fencing is how exciting, intense, and unpredictable each touch can be,” Mansperger said. “Each fencer goes into the touch with an idea of their own, but that idea can easily be changed based on the opponent, and as the fencer, you have to quickly change your plan in order to win the touch. I also love trying fun touches that are not always used ,because when they work, there’s a sense of satisfaction that comes with bragging rights.”


In order to fence, there are a lot of things you need. Materially, you need your suit, your helmet, and your blade. Mentally, you need strategy, resolve, and a good support system. Physically, you need to be prepared to undergo hours of training to get good form and improve on areas needed specifically for bouts. “At practice, we run and stretch for around 20 minutes total,” said Goldfarb. “Afterwards, we do some footwork drills and then practice bouts.” 

Training methods vary, with an incredible amount of out-of-school centers dedicated to the sport. Camila Kulahlioglu ‘23 said, I usually go to clubs to practice with other fencers my level. In middle school I was at Woodside Fencing Center, but after the Coronavirus pandemic, I started going to Fencers Club.” Fencing is a very niche sport, although it is often taken extremely seriously as Kulahioglu highlights. There are specific fencing coaches, camps, and clubs. 

However, attending these typically expensive institutions is not the only way to improve. Many fencers practice areas such as their footwork at home, creating a better form for the next time they attack on the strip. 

One of the best ways for these fencers to practice is by having bouts with other fencers. Chin, who is a second year member of the Bronx Science Girls’ Fencing Team said “Everyone has their own unique style of fencing, which means it’s crucial to practice with lots of people in order to prepare yourself for new opponents and outside competition.”

The game is much more than landing spots on your opponent’s body, even being considered “a mental game more than physical,” said Kulahlioglu. “If you analyze your opponent and practice the right strategies, physical disadvantages won’t hold you back so much. I find the more I talk out strategies and discuss tactic with my coaches and peers, the more I learn.”

With white uniforms and steel blades in hand, the Bronx Science’s Girls’ Varsity Fencing team dominated the Spring 2023 season, claiming the title of the PSAL City Championships for both Foil and Epee on May 20th, 2023.