New Girls Fencing captains share their experience leading the team


Samira Li

The fencing captains.

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The Townsend Harris Girls Fencing team opened this season with new team captains: senior Kaitlyn Kaii and juniors Irene Seuk and Victoria Madej.

All three captains joined the team their freshman year, and The Classic spoke to each captain about what encouraged them to join. “I thought joining the team was a unique opportunity because not a lot of schools offer fencing, so I decided to try it out and see if it was something for me,” said Kaitlyn. 

Irene said that the driving factor that gave her the incentive to pursue fencing was the uniqueness of the sport. “Fencing is such a niche sport that definitely stands out compared to other sports. I got really involved in it just because it is a sport where anyone can readily join, since it does not require as much demand for speed or strength as other sports do. As long as you are smart and you work diligently, it’s a sport that you can excel in,” said Irene.

For Victoria, after her rough, limited fencing experience in middle school, her desire to renew her fencing career led her to join the team and redevelop her love for the sport. She said, “When I joined my freshman year during COVID, I told myself this was my second chance. I remember whenever I was at home, I felt rather lonely, but once I went to fencing, I really enjoyed myself.” 

Being captain places a huge weight on one’s shoulders to live up to their title. Victoria prioritizes encouraging her teammates, teaching them proper form, and helping the team improve in all aspects of fencing— both physically and mentally. She said that “sports can be very overwhelming sometimes, especially if someone doesn’t feel like they’re doing too well in a moment, so I just want to ensure we keep our spirit up.” 

Kaityln explains that her responsibilities include “managing all the team affairs, ensuring that everyone is staying active, and having targeted practices that focus on what could have been done better in previous games.” She also stressed the importance of “[having] a good support system by encouraging each other to come back and improve themselves.” Irene said, “We are at a point where we set the tone for the entire team. Right now, we are really trying to determine what our strengths and weaknesses are, and just continue to encourage everyone to attend practices everyday.” 

Irene also discussed the challenging aspects of leading the team., seen as She said, “you have a responsibility to lead your friends, meet and teach new underclassmen, while also juggling school work at the same time.” Despite this, Irene praised the team for their commitment, and describes the fulfillment she felt after being appointed captain, saying, “I’ve been fencing for nearly five years, so it feels great to be able to teach a sport I’ve been in and loved to other people.” 

Kaitlyn shared the obstacles the team encountered with the inconsistencies in coaches, as the team has endured a series of coach changes since her freshman year. Yet, she expressed that the athletes on the team and their knowledge of the sport had never changed, allowing for the team to succeed regardless of who was coaching. “When we came back, [the returning athletes] were the ones who remembered everything, and so we carried it over and began teaching a new generation of rookies,” said Kaitlyn. 

Sophomore Daisy Zheng expressed that the captains have done an exemplary job in fulfilling their role and contributed to her pleasant experience on the team. “They do the best they can to help the rookies improve their fencing foundation and are always encouraging them. Sometimes, I do not want to attend practices because I’m frustrated at myself for not being able to apply the skills properly, but with their encouragement, they inspired and motivated me to keep fencing,” said Daisy. 

Freshman Natalia Piekarski said, “Hearing the captain’s insight, advice, and constructive criticism has definitely helped me improve, as I went from knowing essentially nothing about fencing to actually being able to fence.” 

Junior Amelia Lauren similarly said, “They are also very good motivators and great people in general, which adds to their character as great leaders, as they always help when one of us isn’t doing as well as we hoped to.” 

Coach Diane Ramirez said that the most essential qualities of a leader include “discipline, dedication, and knowledge of the sport.” She adds that Irene, Victoria, and Kaitlyn all possess these traits, while also “instilling these fundamental qualities into the younger fencers”, which led her to appoint them as captains. 

The captains expressed their gratitude to have been working alongside one another, as their tight bond has enhanced their experience leading the team together. Victoria said, “I feel that we work really well as captains. We’re always coordinating, and we split up the work in a way where it becomes more manageable, less chaotic, and makes practice genuinely enjoyable.”