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The Arcade

The Student News Site of North Hollywood High School

The Arcade

The Student News Site of North Hollywood High School

The Arcade

Noho Fencing

Oscar+Johnson+Kohler+as+photographed+by+Sky+Lopez
Sky Lopez (She/Her)
Oscar Johnson Kohler as photographed by Sky Lopez

NHHS has a large variety of teams that compete in various tournaments school district-wide, from football to soccer, golf, tennis, and baseball, there are plenty of teams here at the school. 

Recently there has been a new competitive team to emerge: the Fencing Team. 

Fencing is a semi-contact combat sport that features sword fighting. There are three specializations: foil, épée, and saber. Each type has a different area in which points can be scored from. It emerged and gained popularity during the early 19th century, and is one of the original sports of the Olympics.

There are rumors that there was previously a fencing club here at school, but it died out decades ago. The fencing club was first started during the spring semester of the 2022-2023 school year, but only officially started practicing with equipment and a coach in August of this school year.

Currently, there are two cabinet members, Miriam Davison and Oscar Johnson Kohler, both Supreme Leaders. They both created the club from the ground up and will be holding elections at the end of the year and potentially adding a third cabinet position.

While they are not technically a team, but rather a club that participates in tournaments, it was still a journey to go from starting the club to being able to compete.

Davison said [about the process of becoming a team], “It was a long, hard, and sort of expensive process.”

Miriam Davison

Kohler stated, “It happened very spontaneously in some ways and with a great deal of anxiety. It was fun. It was a very smooth transition, I would say.”

Equipment and training for fencing is pricey, Kohler outlined that one mask can cost as little as eighty-five dollars on the cheaper end, which gives an idea of the price to supply equipment. An organization at the school called Friends of the HGM assisted in funding but required a presentation to justify their request for donations to the club. 

They did separate fundraising through GoFundMe and even received donations of uniforms and equipment from CalTech. After that process, they received insurance from EduCare. The final step was hiring a coach, which eventually led to the emergence of the fencing team.

NHHS is one of only two schools to offer fencing across all LAUSD schools. Any other school that offers fencing, is private.

Kohler proudly noted, “One of our points of pride is that we can have a fencing club, without having to make it part of tuition.”

After school on Tuesdays, practices last two hours. They generally include a warm-up, footwork practice, drills that include working with the swords themselves, bouts, or, practice matches.

When asked what she enjoys most about fencing, Davison stated, “Other than the actual fencing part…it’s really social. For such an intense sport, I’d like to think we’ve created a welcoming community so everyone at this point knows each other. We can all help each other in fencing, but we’ve also become a team.”

“It’s fun to [fence], it’s like playing to me,” said Mario Diaz when asked what he enjoyed most about the club.

“I really love having a sport. I was never really comfortable in athletics. I always wanted to do something to exercise and become stronger and fitter, but nothing really fit, “ said Kohler. “One of the things I love the most about fencing is the fact that it is so rigorous yet so fun at the same time.”

The fencing team has participated in two competitions so far. The novice tournament they were set to compete in was scheduled for December of 2023 but was postponed. It officially occurred on January 28th, 2024. 

When speaking about her first experience competing, Miriam said, “I was frightened. I was scared. I didn’t know what to do.” 

She also described the environment as welcoming, despite competing against bigger schools with larger funding and more experience.

Kohler remarked, “Tournaments are fantastic. It’s complicated and a little overwhelming at first, but once you’re doing it, it’s one of the best experiences. You meet people that are so good at what they do from all over the city, and you get to test yourself and learn from them and, in some cases, win awards!”

At their most recent novice tournament, hosted by Chaminade Middle School, two of the three fencers sent by the fencing club placed third. At their first tournament, hosted by Harvard-Westlake, one fencer placed fifteenth of forty. 

The fencing team is the newest addition to a long list of competitive teams, and anyone is encouraged to join. 

The fencing club meets every Tuesday after school at the north end of the Colfax building (right below the ceramics room). Beginners are welcome, and anyone is encouraged to give it a try!

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I'm a senior interested in writing about the the arts.
Sky Lopez (She/Her), Photographer
I am a photographer for the arcade. I love to make pieces in ceramics.
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