Before the Senior Day ceremony, Chantal Montrose was sure she wouldn’t be overwhelmed with emotion. But when she came out and saw her coaches, that all changed.
“It started to hit during the ceremony,” Montrose, an épée said. “I was fine. Then I started crying … It’s the end.”
Montrose, along with sabre Tasia Ford, foil Epiphany Georges and sabre Andrea Haley, was honored at the Temple Invitational last weekend. The seniors each received a picture of them competing and their team roster picture, which was different than the usual gift of flowers.
“It was really nice,” Haley said. “They surprised us … It is something to keep forever.”
“It was nice getting the picture,” Ford said. “It didn’t really hit me until Chantal came out. I started feeling it, too and it was really sad.”
Ford was able to share the moment with her mother, who came to Philadelphia for the ceremony.
“I was happy that my mom was able to come, it was really nice,” Ford said. “My mom doesn’t get to see me fence a lot, so it was nice that our last meet was close enough to home where she could come.”
Montrose also had family there. Her mother, father and brother were at the meet.
“That was really awesome that they could all come out and support me,” Montrose said. “It’s great having them here.”
After the ceremony, the seniors still had to compete. Montrose started off slow, losing her first four bouts, but got back on track after a squad huddle.
“It took me a while to get in my right headspace, but eventually I got there,” Montrose said.
These team moments that have brought the group closer together is what Ford and Haley said they will miss the most.
“Everyone has been so supportive of me and my career and my education,” Ford said. “It’s not always about the fencing. I’m going to miss having this family bond with me team.”
“The support of the team,” Haley said. “We are always there for each other and you know someone always has your back. It’s a really unique feeling being on a team.”
The seniors said the emotion of the moment has not hit them yet. The season is not over and they still have National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association, which Temple has won 17 years in a row, and NCAA Championships.
“[We] need to keep kicking butt,” Montrose said. “We’ve been having a really good year so far.”
Haley said the end comes when they have their team banquet, where they give awards, gifts and say their goodbyes. The seniors also give speeches, which Ford described as “summing up your entire experience.”
“Everybody ends up crying,” Ford said. “That’s when it feels final.”
Fencers said that the seniors’ leadership has been instrumental to the team’s success all year.
“Their level of commitment has been outstanding,” coach Nikki Franke said. “They have really set the tone and have set the bar high for the next set of leaders that we have. You hate to see them leave.”
Michael Guise can be reached at Michaelguise@temple.edu.