By Miles Johnson ‘19, Reporter 4-16-19
Although Fencing does not garner the attention of some of the “tradition sports” in America such as football, baseball, basketball, and hockey, it is widely popular all over Europe and Asia. One of our very own Friends’ Central students, Tristan Szapary ‘20, has risen to be one of the premier Fencers in our country. Szapary’s accomplishments in the sport are vast: he was ranked in the top 20 under 19 (U19) in the United States. He has been able to
compete in 6 national competitions every year. He won a 14 and under (U14) national competition, he was 4th in the country last year in U17, which meant he was the first alternate for the World Championships in Verona, Italy. At Tristan’s best, he was ranked 19th in the country in the age group 19 and under. Additionally, in his freshman and sophomore years of high school, he was named First-Team All American and All-Academic.
Tristan started fencing at 10 but did not start playing competitively until 13. He told me, “My parents always wanted me to play a sport but I was a pretty uncoordinated kid so traditional sports weren't really working out for me. There was this after school program for fencing at my old elementary school that was super basic, they just taught us footwork and stuff, but I really liked it. I didn't know anything about it but it sounded like sword fighting and I liked Star Wars and lightsabers so I decided to pursue it.” The main fencing club in Philadelphia is called “Fencing Academy of Philadelphia.” This club (and specifically one of its coaches) helped lay the foundation for Tristan to become the talented fencer he is today. This special coach taught Tristan footwork, technique, and discipline. Although
Tristan started as an “uncoordinated kid,” he credits fencing, as well as his terrific coach, as what “kind of turned [him] into an athlete.” Yes, Tristan is surely quite the athlete. In fact, he continues to train with this coach today.
Fencing does not get the media coverage like the main sports in America; however, fencing has been in every single modern Olympics and is a part of the NCAA. In fact, most of the Ivies and many big state schools including Penn State, Ohio State, and Notre Dame whom are known for their strong football programs, also have all have strong Division One programs for fencing. We can’t wait to see how Tristian takes advantage of the many fencing opportunities that undoubtedly await him. Until then, the Phoenix are rooting for Tristan as he travels nationally for fencing competitions.