It’s been a great year for the Blue Devil boys’ and girls’ fencing teams. The squads are winning and the athletes and coaches are happy.
Entering the current week, Haileigh Smith has compiled a 15-2 and Ally Kustera is 13-4. Luca D’Anna is 17-1 with Liam Tucker tallying a 16-2 record. Truth be told, everyone on the roster has contributed in one way or another.
Smith is enjoying every single day of what is her finest season yet. The teenager works hard and strives to be at the top of her game each day. She puts a lot of pressure on herself, but the results so far are impressive.
“I went through a three or four year phase where I wanted to try absolutely anything and everything,” Smith recalls. “I had just joined volleyball and softball the years before and loved them, so I wanted to give something else a try. Fencing was so different than the other sports I had done in the past, so it caught my attention.”
Smith’s parents, Katie and Byron, sister Cameron and brother Zackary can always be counted on to back her with encouragement and whatever support she might need and her move into fencing was no different.
“I love the versatility of the sport,” Smith said. “The three weapons are so different so the sport attracts various types of individuals. You then get to know people you would otherwise never run into both at your own school and around Long Island.”
Smith is one of the Blue Devil program’s biggest fans. “I think the fencing program is one of the best that the high school has to offer,” she said. “There is a mentoring relationship between the older and newer fencers so the tricks and skills that are developed are constantly passed on to the next group, which strengthens the program as time goes on. I think this year in particular has reflected that because the boys, a majority of whom joined as middle schoolers and freshmen, are now having incredible success as junior and seniors.”
The Blue Devils had their best turnout in many years this winter and Smith, like her teammates wants to see that level of participation and interest repeat itself again next year and the year after that, too.
“I would encourage anyone who has even the slightest interest in the sport to give it a try,” Smith said. “It’s not a sport that people grow up going to club for so there isn’t any expectation for you to come in knowing what to do. It’s also something someone can pick-up and get pretty good at in a season or two, so it’s not too late for upperclassmen to give it a shot.”