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02/12/2023 08:32 AM

Kumar’s Positive Attitude Helps Lead Guilford Fencing

Shivai Kumar helps his team in a variety of ways as a senior captain for the Grizzlies fencing squad this winter. Photo courtesy of Shivai Kumar

For many kids as they enter high school, fencing is a sport that may be unfamiliar to them. With obscure rules and various disciplines, people aren’t always comfortable trying it. Shivai Kumar moved past the uncomfortabilty and skepticism that always comes with trying something new and has proven to be a quality athlete for the Guilford fencing team.

Shivai started fencing when he was a freshman in high school when his curious mind decided to learn more about the sport.

“I had a lot of free time on my hands as I was not involved in other sports, and I heard that our school had a fencing team. It intrigued me a lot because I had never heard of something similar before, so I went to the informational meeting, and I tried out for it,” says Shivai. “I also knew a lot of people, upper and underclassmen, that were on the fencing team. Once I actually started going to practices and meets, the family feel and bond that the team had is what kept me there.”

Not only is Shivai a dedicated member of the Guilford squad, but he also fences for the Shoreline Fencing Club when not on the strip with his fellow Grizzlies. Having the added experience has helped him to continue to improve his game and has given him added insight to be able to effectively offer advice to the underclassmen as a captain this season for the saber squad.

“I can help them out with their techniques and blade work because it is very important to get those things down first,” says Shivai. “Also, keeping the team morale up and getting everyone acquainted with each other is important. We have a very novice team right now.”

Grizzlies assistant coach Mark Kissinger sees the work Shivai puts in day in and day out and knows he makes a valuable impact on the rest of the team.

“He has a positive attitude and never gives up,” says Kissinger. “He motivates and helps the whole squad get better.”

The Grizzlies are comprised of mostly novice fencers this year, and Shivai has been looking to bring his team closer together and help the younger fencers who are newer to the sport get acclimated, especially after losing their head coach partway through the season.

“This year, there has been a little instability on the team due to losing a coach. Getting everyone back to that same form of unity and same form of respect for each other is a little difficult,” says Shivai. “I think that we can work towards that by team building, which can get us closer to that team bond that we shared at one point.”

Kissinger applauds Shivai’s ability to stay organized while constantly relaying messages to his teammates to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

“I think that he stands out from the squad by being a leader and helping them both during bouts and after,” says Kissinger. “Overall for the team, his organizational skills have been valuable in helping communicate all of the details during practices, meets, and scrimmages.”

As Shivai looks towards the remainder of his final season on the fencing strip for Guilford, he hopes to continue to train just as hard as he has been so he is at his best come postseason time.

“Personally, for me going towards the end of the season, my goal is keeping up with drawing the line with my training and also helping the team,” says Shivai. “Keeping up with your conditioning and training so that you are not burnt out by the time we get to states. For the team, it is about emphasizing how important every touch is, instead of looking at a bout as a whole.”

Despite being so focused on his personal and team goals when it comes to postseason competition, Shivai also knows there are things to look forward to along the way.

“What I am looking forward to most is celebrating the small things throughout the season, like every meet, every day,” says Shivai. “Spending time with people that I have gotten close with, spending the remainder with those I have known for two or three years, and ending the season on a high note with them.”

For Shivai personally, he would like to place first at states with his squad but also acknowledges that he tried his hardest and put his best foot forward throughout his last season as a Grizzly.