The season began with a scavenger hunt.
Returning Owl fencers held the competition prior to the opening of the season as a way to get the freshmen acquainted with the team and what Temple fencing would be like for them.
With the team entering its most crucial stretch of competition – the Owls have a meet almost every weekend for the remainder of the season – the fencers find themselves in another hunt, but this time it’s about winning rather than bonding.
“I feel that we could do way better,” senior foil Epiphany Georges said. “Our team is comprised of mostly underclassmen and they are just getting in the swing of things … I feel like we will do way better now. I’m excited for the season, and I feel like we are going to scare some people.”
As the squad enters the meat of its season, the freshman class is expected to play a large role in solidifying the Owls’ roster. The seniors have done a lot to help welcome the rookies to the team.
One of those seniors is epee Chantal Montrose, who calls the freshmen her “little sisters.”
“Just being a guiding force to everyone on the team,” Montrose said. “Sort of being a liaison between the coaches and the rest of the team. Pushing everyone to be the best they can be and reach their potential and go beyond it.”
When Georges was a junior, she overheard a crucial piece of advice from a coach: “Stop feeling sorry for yourself.”
Georges said these five words drive her to work hard every day and to be a leader on the team. Georges, along with the four other seniors on the fencing team, are the leaders of the program’s largest roster in years, and one that is made up of mostly underclassmen.
“Leadership is being able to guide whoever is following you … and being able to encourage them and getting them to want to do the right things,” Georges said.
With such a large team, bonding remains a crucial aspect of preparing for meets. The team has a unique way of getting to know each other.
“It’s all about food on this team,” assistant coach Anastasia Ferdman said.
Georges and Montrose said they realize their leadership goes beyond the strip.
“When most people come to me it is because they feel a little discourages or they are down about a result or they feel that they could have done better … then I relate it to something that has happened to me, because basically everything they have gone through, I have gone through,” Georges said.
“I try to come in every day and set a good example,” Montrose said. “I try to push myself in the weight room or cardio or fencing drills … try to do everything to the best of my abilities and be a good example for them.”
The coaches said they trust that the seniors will continue leading the team. Ferdman lauded the seniors for all that they do.
“I think what makes a good leader is doing everything that is not expected of you,” Ferdman said. “Things that you do beyond practice, how you bring the group together … you lead by example, not only in practice and competition, but outside the gym.”
With it being the final year for the seniors, they said they want to go out on top.
“People underestimate us, and when they get on the strip, they are like, ‘Whoa,’” Georges said.
Teams taking the Owls lightly only drives the fencers more.
“You have to find that reason to keep on fighting,” Georges said. “Our teammates always work hard no matter what. I never see anyone slacking at all.”
Michael Guise can be reached at Michaelguise@temple.edu or on Twitter @Mikeg2511.