In the Forsythe household, the four sisters have an interesting way of settling their quarrels.
They lace up their shoes, strap on the protective gear and draw their weapon of choice, be it the epee or foil.
They duel until someone says she’s sorry or a window gets broken.
OK, maybe they don’t go that far to solve their problems.
But still, Sara, Maryanne, Melissa and Christine Forsythe have become a part of the fencing tradition, hoping to slice their own notch in the prestigious sport.
Sara, a junior at Temple, began her fencing career as a high school freshman in Hackettstown, NJ. She had been inspired to participate by watching her friends compete.
Having previously played soccer and basketball, Sara decided a change was needed.
Her parents, Mark and Annette, supported the change of athletic scenery.
“What the heck, go for it!” Mark Forsythe said.
Soon, the fencing bug that had bit Sara worked its way through the Forsythe sisters – first to Maryanne, a freshman at Temple, then Melissa, a sophomore in high school, and finally Christine, the youngest of the group.
“One by one, they all decided that they liked it,” Annette Forsythe said of the domino effect that had so suddenly befallen her household.
“Anything to keep them busy,” Mark joked.
Each Forsythe sister had her own reason for getting involved with fencing.
Maryanne wanted to do it because Sara was doing it, Melissa thought it looked like fun, and Christine was fed up with being a spectator at her sisters’ competitions.
“Christine decided that she was sick of coming to all the tournaments and watching,” Sara said.
She has a ways to go if she hopes to become as successful as her sisters.
In high school, Sara gained recognition by finishing second and third in the state in 1999 and 2000, respectively.
She also led her squad to first place honors in the district during those same years.
Sara is a firm believer that the team support off the strip is as important as the fencer on the strip.
“Even though you’re out there on the strip by yourself, you still have the whole team behind you, supporting you, working with you to try and make you look your best,” Sara said.
Maryanne helped her team become State Foil Champions in 2002 and received the Hackettstown High School MVP Award.
She will also be competing with Melissa in the upcoming Junior Olympics. Part of their success can be attributed to the local fencing clubs they joined to hone their skills.
“It was like taking it to the next level,” Maryanne said. “You wanted to be competitive outside of high school.”
Their ambitions have taken the Forsythes a few hours from home, where they have met many people who enjoy the sport almost as much as themselves.
“Going to competitions is a wonderful experience where you meet an assortment of people,” Annette said.
The Forsythe’s appreciation for the sport has grown since they realized the great amount of dignity exhibited at every competition.
“There is a high level of respect within the fencing community that I just don’t see in any other sport,” Mark said.
The supportive atmosphere also provided them with a certain degree of comfort as they began learning all of the nuances of the classic sport.
“Our parents try so hard,” Sara said. “They cheer the same thing for all of us because they don’t really know what’s going on.”
Steve Papurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.