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HomeNewsArchives2 V.I. FENCERS IN NORTH AMERICAN YOUTH EVENT

2 V.I. FENCERS IN NORTH AMERICAN YOUTH EVENT

For only the second time, the Virgin Islands is being represented at the U.S. Fencing Association's North American Cup Youth Championships.
Jared Etsinger, 14, of The Blades Fencing Club on St. Thomas, and Jennifer Gibbud, 14, of the St. John Fencing Club, are competing in events for their age group on Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6. The competition is being held this year at the Disney Sports Center within the Disney World complex in Kissimmee, Fla.
Mark Hansen, coach and president of the St. John club and also a member of The Blades, accompanied the teenagers to the event, which is expected to attract more than 400 fencers from the United States, Canada and Mexico to compete in three age groups, with 14 being the oldest. There are separate competitions in the three weapons of fencing — the lightweight foil, the heavier epee and the still heavier saber. Etsinger and Gibbud are both competing in foil.
The first time Virgin Islands fencers took part in the North American Cup competition was two years ago, when The Blades sent Etsinger and three other fencers to Plano, Tex. Etsinger, then 12, did the best of the four, advancing to the foil semifinals before losing to the No. 1-ranked fencer in his age division. He finished 24th out of a field of 80 and was ranked 56th in the nation on that basis.
The not-for-profit Blades group was formed in 1994 and grew to attract fencers from St. John as well as St. Thomas. The St. John club was spun off as a separate organization last year.
While Etsinger has been fencing for six years, Gibbud took up the sport less than a year ago. But, according to Hansen, who trained under former St. John resident Chris Jones, an NCAA national champion fencer, and Tony Gillham, a retired University of Wisconsin coach who helped set up the USFA's National Coaches College, Gibbud "has all the right instincts. And she is aggressive."
Blades president Joyce Bolaños noted that fencers reaching the USFA's upper rankings do so by making strong showings at multiple competitions held on the mainland throughout the year.
"Our fencers have the potential to become nationally competitive," she said. "The biggest problem we have is one all youth sports groups experience here — isolation. It is very, very expensive to travel to competitions off island, and yet that is the only way that fencers can get experience and attain national and international ranking."
Bolaños also said The Blades will host its third annual fencing camp this summer, this time in collaboration with the St. John club. Tentative plans are to have two separate week-long camps at different times so that more youngsters going off island during the summer can have the chance to participate. For more information about the fencing programs, call Bolaños at 777-8708 or Hansen at 779-4550.

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For only the second time, the Virgin Islands is being represented at the U.S. Fencing Association's North American Cup Youth Championships.
Jared Etsinger, 14, of The Blades Fencing Club on St. Thomas, and Jennifer Gibbud, 14, of the St. John Fencing Club, are competing in events for their age group on Friday and Saturday, May 5 and 6. The competition is being held this year at the Disney Sports Center within the Disney World complex in Kissimmee, Fla.
Mark Hansen, coach and president of the St. John club and also a member of The Blades, accompanied the teenagers to the event, which is expected to attract more than 400 fencers from the United States, Canada and Mexico to compete in three age groups, with 14 being the oldest. There are separate competitions in the three weapons of fencing -- the lightweight foil, the heavier epee and the still heavier saber. Etsinger and Gibbud are both competing in foil.
The first time Virgin Islands fencers took part in the North American Cup competition was two years ago, when The Blades sent Etsinger and three other fencers to Plano, Tex. Etsinger, then 12, did the best of the four, advancing to the foil semifinals before losing to the No. 1-ranked fencer in his age division. He finished 24th out of a field of 80 and was ranked 56th in the nation on that basis.
The not-for-profit Blades group was formed in 1994 and grew to attract fencers from St. John as well as St. Thomas. The St. John club was spun off as a separate organization last year.
While Etsinger has been fencing for six years, Gibbud took up the sport less than a year ago. But, according to Hansen, who trained under former St. John resident Chris Jones, an NCAA national champion fencer, and Tony Gillham, a retired University of Wisconsin coach who helped set up the USFA's National Coaches College, Gibbud "has all the right instincts. And she is aggressive."
Blades president Joyce Bolaños noted that fencers reaching the USFA's upper rankings do so by making strong showings at multiple competitions held on the mainland throughout the year.
"Our fencers have the potential to become nationally competitive," she said. "The biggest problem we have is one all youth sports groups experience here -- isolation. It is very, very expensive to travel to competitions off island, and yet that is the only way that fencers can get experience and attain national and international ranking."
Bolaños also said The Blades will host its third annual fencing camp this summer, this time in collaboration with the St. John club. Tentative plans are to have two separate week-long camps at different times so that more youngsters going off island during the summer can have the chance to participate. For more information about the fencing programs, call Bolaños at 777-8708 or Hansen at 779-4550.