Middleburg, VA (Feb. 28, 2017) – For the first time in Middleburg Academy history, Fencing is a winter varsity sport. A sport of grace, speed, and reflexes, fencing is a sport in which two competitors fight using swords with dull tips, winning points by making contact with their opponent.
Middleburg Academy fencers were extremely grateful to have had two outstanding coaches this season in Rolando Tucker, a former Olympian and World Champion from Cuba and Turner Smith, a former Ivy League fencer, from Princeton, and who has been featured in publications such as Middleburg Life.
Coach Turner Smith, a retired environmental attorney, now devotes much of his time to Virginia land conservation. Smith, the athlete, returned to the sport five years ago, at age 70 and almost 50 years after he competed as a varsity fencer at Princeton. Smith decided not only did he want to take up the demanding sport once again, but also to coach.
His return to fencing first began at a Harper’s Ferry Club, and he now fences at clubs in Manassas, Front Royal and Fairfax. He practices with fencers of all ages, including teenagers. Smith said, “It’s three-dimensional chess at light speed. As you get older, you want to keep the blood flowing to the brain. You still have muscle memory, and you can pick it up, although I found much of my muscle memory was wrong because the sport has changed so much.”
Coach Smith found a home this past fall here at Middleburg Academy. Having coached in the past, coach Smith was excited and “a little nervous,” heading into this fencing season. Now a varsity sport, both Coach Smith and Coach Tucker had to develop a varsity program with fencers who for the last three years were mostly self taught. Through their knowledge and enthusiasm, together they have expanded the skills of the fencing team exponentially in a short amount of time and are looking forward to many great years ahead.
“They were both amazing! I don’t think we could’ve asked for anyone better to be our coaches,” said senior Alan Salacain.
Last week Middleburg Academy held its first competition on campus facing a familiar foe, the Royal Swords Fencing Club, based out of Front Royal, VA. The event not only marked the first tournament held on campus, but also Senior Night, acknowledging two senior fencers for all their hard work over the last four years. Congratulations to Alan Salacain ’17 and Niketh Vellanki ’17 for all they have accomplished. Niketh took home 3rd place, while Alan finished 4th overall in their final fencing event.