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A sport for all ages: Lehigh youth finding success in fencing

June 25, 2014
By MEL TOADVINE ( , Lehigh Acres Citizen

A Lehigh Acres 12-year-old girl is a winner in the Central Florida Division of Fencing Championships.

Suzanne Hernandez won gold in Youth 12 mix (girls and boys) and bronze in Youth 14 mix at the championships.

She trains at One Light Fencing Club located at 522-B Joel Blvd. in Lehigh.

Article Photos

Suzanne Hernandez and Jake Thayer, who has won Bronze in open competition, and Bryce Thayer, who also fences in U10.

This 12-year-old fearless girl has being fencing for two years and competed recently in the Sunshine State Games in the Woman's Y12 and Y14 games at the Polk County Festival last week.

Coach Jorge Romero of Lehigh is in charge of those students who enjoy fencing as a sport and more people who are hearing about fencing are being welcomed at the Joel Boulevard site.

For Suzanne Hernandez, fencing is a fun sport and one that she is very competitive in. She practices every day for two to three hours and has the full support of her parents for this sport that has been around for centuries.

Only today, people don't duel with real swords, yet they may call them swords.

At the new fencing club in Lehigh, students have plenty of room to practice and they are scored on an electronic monitor that lights up like a TV screen when contact is made at the right spots on the body where points can be scored.

Alain Hernandez of Lehigh and his wife, Suzel Teyeda support their daughter as she wins more and more awards and who knows, one day could end up in the Olympics.

USA Fencing is the national governing body for the sport of fencing in the U.S. and as such, is its representative to the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International Fencing Federation.

USA Fencing is the central organization that coordinates amateur fencing programs in the nation and works to create interest and participation in those programs.

USA Fencing has more than 35,000 members and the athletes are of all ages including coaches, officials, parents and fans striving together to strengthen the sport.

Locally, Suzanne is in the seventh grade and is a straight A student.

But she is being seen as a fast challenger and even boasted that she "has whipped my dad in fencing." Her father, Alain Hernandez, just smiled and nodded and admitted that his daughter was really good and enjoys fencing.

The award she recently won was a Gold Medal for youth or Y12.

"Students play from Naples to Orlando to Jacksonville and there are 16 in her age group both boys and girl. In Y14, she has taken Bronze and she wants to go all the way," her father said.

He said fencing was something like martial arts but a sport with tactical advantages.

"It's very physical and tactical," he said.

Her father is an insurance adjuster and her mother is a registered nurse.

"We're looking for new members for our local fencing club, It is an inexpensive sport to start and the first class is free," Hernandez said.

He said there is plenty of room at the club on Joel for several bouts of fencing.

"And they use weapons that are meant to score electronically by touching areas of the body, which are protected by attire that accepts the electronic signals which are shown on a large electronic screen on the wall. Fencers dress in special clothing that protects them from being injured. The cloth is made out of material that will conduct electronic signals, once touched by the opponent.

"The duo fencing can strike certain parts of the body from the waist up and it's recorded electronically," Hernandez said.

Call him at 239-265-3224 to get information on the local fencing club and to get a free first lesson.

"It's a very competitive sport, but safe," he said.

Officials with the U.S. Fencing Association say fencing is the perfect sport for people who are easily bored by typical exercise programs, since no two bouts are ever the same.

Officials say the sport is attractive to people of all ages, and people of any age are welcome at the local Lehigh club to learn fencing, and regardless of their age, people tend to stick with it because it challenges are mental and physical.

Fencing is an offshoot of back in the days when gentlemen dueled but dueling went into sharp decline after World War I, and after World War II, dueling went out of use in Europe except for very rare exceptions.

Fencing took over and has continued as a sport with tournaments and championships.

Fencing is the sport of swordplay and began thousands of years ago as a way of training soldiers to fight with swords and eventually became a competitive team sport that anyone can participate in.

Fencers face off on a six-foot by 40-foot strip with one of three kinds of swords, and duel each other not for blood or honor, but points.

Individual fencers add up their points to get an overall team score, so fencing, according to the U.S. Fencing Association, is a great example of a sport where you compete on your own, but you're working together as a group to win the day's match.



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