You’ve got to envy those kids at H.B. Whitehorne Middle School: They learned how to swing dance over the winter and last week, they got a free demonstration of one of the world’s oldest Olympic sports, fencing.
For almost an hour last Friday, the students of Cedar Grove-based Lilov Fencing Academy (who include HBW student Vanya Citrano, right in the photo above), showed what they have to do to prepare for the sport and compete. Lilov owner Serge Lilov talked to the students about the history of fencing and let them examine some of the equipment it uses, like the highly protective face masks. He answered many questions about the sport and his students talked about why they love it, with Citrano comparing it to the thrill he knows his classmates get from football.
The Lilov fencers then demonstrated several actual fencing matches, to lots of cheering from the HBW sixth graders. Fencing is a well-established sport in New Jersey, which has almost 60 high school teams. Verona High School doesn’t yet have an official team, but many of the schools that we compete against in other sports (Montclair, Montclair Kimberley Academy, West Essex, Millburn and Columbia) do. Fencing is also big in many U.S. colleges, which often offer scholarships to build the best teams. And fencing still has a high profile at the Olympics: Later this month, the Lilov students who presented their sport at HBW will train for several days with Race Imboden, a key member of the 2012 U.S. Olympic team who is now the world’s No. 2 foil fencer.