FENCING: After Beanpot, Fencers Look To Fadner's Steady Guidance
Published: Monday, February 18, 2013
Updated: Monday, February 18, 2013 12:02
The effects of this goal were evident on Tuesday’s Beanpot, as fencers from different squads not only cheered on their teammates, but even called time outs to offer them whispered advice in the middle of bouts. During practice, too, Fadner creates exercises that force the different squads to interact. The average practice features team warm-up, conditioning, and footwork exercises followed by specialized bouts and drills. Often, Fadner runs drills that recreate the stresses and constraints of competition. “We recreate different time limits where, you know, there’s 10 seconds left and the score is tied, what do you do?” she said. “Or we might run a practice where there’s a handicap, where a fencer starts every bout down three touches or down four touches.”
Such targeted exercises help to discipline the experienced fencers while bringing the less experienced ones up to speed. Fadner’s coaching method, though, is far from being exclusively about drills and exercises. While presiding over such a huge coalition of fencers, Fadner relies on the shared experience of her fencers and their mutual support to collectively drive the team to success.
What does success look like? One recurring goal every year is to win the New England Collegiate Championships, taking place Saturday at Brandeis. Preparation is slated to be especially intense this year, as Curry is likely out for the rest of the season, and Berarducci faces the challenge of adapting her fencing skills to an unfamiliar weapon in the long term.
Another goal is to qualify a few fencers every year for the NCAA fencing championship. Fadner has faith that several of her fencers can operate at such a competitive level. The women’s epee squad, anchored by junior Anabel Young, sophomore Cara Hall, and standout freshman Olivia Adragna, has proven itself particularly strong throughout the season. Fadner also reserved special praise for men’s foil, and in particular freshman Hanmin Lee.
If there is one thing that Fadner makes clear, though, it’s that the individual level is not what ultimately matters. Again and again, she reiterated the primacy of the team, and the importance of creating an atmosphere of solidarity and support. In many ways, this runs counter to conventional thinking, for fencing seems to be the ultimate individual sport. As Fadner points out, “it’s a martial art, it’s a combat sport, and it’s fast and physically and mentally demanding in ways that surprise people.” All very true, and very important to understanding the nature of the sport. But at the same time, Fadner’s coaching encompasses a view beyond the scope of individual combat. In a sport defined at its most fundamental level by two opponents facing each other alone on an abandoned strip, Fadner has her eyes on the team.