by Andrew Garda

It’s very easy to spot senior Amina Troupe at a fencing tournament. Just find where the epee fencers are competing and look for the person with the owl face painted on their helmet facemask.

That would be her.

“I had a friend on the team who had a wolf on his mask and I always admired it. And I always loved it,” Troupe explained recently. “So, for a birthday gift, he decided to paint me a mask for myself. And he always used to tell me that my spirit animal was an owl, so that’s why he painted the owl on the mask. He bought the mask for me and painted it and I’ve been using it ever since for competitions.”

Troupe said she gets a variety of reactions to her mask, everything from “Wow that’s cool” to “That’s intimidating.”

“It can get apparent on the strip,” she said, “because people will fence one way against somebody else and they’ll see the mask and then fence a different way against me.”

Her teammates are used to it though, and love it. The team atmosphere is her favorite thing about fencing for Montclair High School, because unlike the individual meets she goes to, the team gives her a big cheering section.

“You don’t have as much of a support system because you’re by yourself,” she said. “Being here with the entire team, we’re a big family. We’re a big community and you feel that as soon as you get inside the room. Everybody is here to support you no matter what. I think that makes everyone’s fencing better and that made my last year wonderful.”

Troupe was kind enough to take a few minutes to let us get to know her better during a recent practice.


What attracted you to epee?

The whole strategic part of it. You have to be conscious of your entire body at all times. You have to make sure your arm is in the right place, your feet. People get toe touches on others all the time. That whole layer of strategy, especially coming from martial arts, where it was full body at all times anyway.

Do you know what you’ll study in college? I

I’ll be studying biology with a concentration in genetics. I’m taking AP biology right now, and we just finished our genetics and started doing some research on my own and it just peaked my interest. The whole idea that everybody and everything is connected. The whole concept of evolution just kind of blew my mind and the different ways it progresses through life. And to understand what we are at the very fundamental level really caught my interest.

Any hobby besides genetics?

I’m a really big comic-book head, so I’m always reading comic books. I also play video games from time to time. I tutor lots of kids and I also really enjoy volunteering at Tony’s Kitchen, so I spend a lot of my time there.

Do you have a favorite comic right now?

“Black Panther,” because the movie came out and I wanted to brush up on some facts and everything. I saw the movie this past weekend so I was just preparing myself for that. I’m reading Ta-Nehisi Coates’ run, it’s so good. I’m really impressed with it so far.

Really Important question: Did you like the movie?

It was outstanding.