by Andrew Garda

For Montclair High School junior foil fencer Georgia Chen, it’s been a very productive couple of years with the MHS girls fencing team. Last year, she saw them go undefeated to the final round of the NJSIAA Tournament where they lost to Ridge, 16-11. 

It was the first time the Mounties had ever placed second in the state tournament. 

This year, the Mounties are one win away from repeating that — the No. 2-seeded Mounties  face No. 3 seeded Montgomery at home on Thursday, Feb. 20 — and clearing the very high bar they set last season. 

For Chen and her team, though, they know nothing is promised.

“We don’t expect anything,” she said after the team’s quarterfinal win over Columbia. “We work the same every single meet, the same amount of hard work. Because you never know and in fencing, it can go either way. Everyone can beat anyone, so we always bring our A game no matter what.”

Chen took a few minutes to chat with us about fencing and choosing foil for this week’s Athlete Spotlight:

How did you start fencing? 

It’s a funny story. My parents always thought I would be good at fencing because for some reason I liked swords and stuff like that. So my mom found a groupon, and she was like “Hey you want to try fencing?” So here we are. I did also try the middle school program and that helped me a lot too. I actually did it with Katie Mathis, and she was a foil back then, but now she’s épée.

How did you end up with foil?

I did a camp where I tried all three weapons. When I was on the strip I felt an attack, but I just didn’t think sabre was for me. I thought that foil — with its precision and accuracy — I think I’m biased, but it’s more elegant. Every point is kind of confusing to people who don’t watch it [regularly] and it's so cool when you actually understand it. 

It’s a nice blend of sabre and épée.

I liked that about foil as well, because it felt like a happy medium between the more aggressive, fast-paced sabre and the patience of épée. I think in foil you can go slow, but you can also go fast. You can do either one. So you can choose your approach. 

Is there a subject you really like in school?

I’ve always liked English. I’ve done a lot of poetry and essay writing. I actually write about fencing sometimes. So it’s a really good place for me to say how I feel about certain situations.

What else do you do to relax?

I do dance. [It]  is another outlet for me, because I feel very free in dancing. When I fence I feel like I’m being very precise and accurate, which I like, but in combination with dance I feel a balance.