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Andrew James has fenced sabre at North Haven for the past four years. This season, Andrew led the Indians as one of their senior captains. (Photo courtesy of Andrew James )
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Andrew James is a four-year fencer who’s a key member of the boys’ sabre team at North Haven. Andrew competed for the Silver City Fencing Club in Wallingford when he was in 5th and 6th grade, then took a break from the sport. When he joined the cross country squad at the high school, Andrew’s friends encouraged him to return to the fencing strip with the Indians.
“What stood out to me was the team, because I had friends on the cross country team that wanted me to join. I always found fencing really interesting, but my friends were the main reason I joined,” says Andrew. “Although I did end up dropping it for a couple of years, the team aspect is the reason why I came back.”
Andrew says he made a great decision by getting back into fencing. The senior captain really enjoys analyzing the finer details of the sport.
“It’s such a unique sport, because it combines a lot of physical with a lot of mental. You really have to think about what you’re going to do and memorize certain actions,” Andrew says. “It’s all muscle memory, and then you have to think about the actions you want to perform. The physical and mental side is what drew me into it.”
Andrew started off with the foil sword when he first took up fencing. However, he went straight to sabre after signing up at the high school. Andrew placed second for sabre at the state’s Novice Tournament in his freshman year and then won the JV Tournament as a sophomore.
“At the time, the sabre squad needed people, and I just decided to go with it,” says Andrew, who is also a member of the Indians’ Ultimate Frisbee team. “It’s a pretty jarring change, because sabre is more aggressive and a faster pace. I wasn’t used to it. I definitely had to get used to thinking faster.”
First-year Head Coach Robert Dickens has seen Andrew make some crucial improvements during the past few months. Dickens says that Andrew has a good grasp of the moves that he’s executing on the strip.
“He’s been figuring that out this year,” says Dickens. “He’s been finding the formal way of doing it and repeating actions he wouldn’t always be able to repeat.”
Andrew agrees that he’s honed in this season. Andrew likes learning about the technical aspects of fencing and embraces the mental chess game that’s such a big part of the sport.
“I really enjoy very fine detailed actions that can make a big difference in what happens. So, when on guard, there are so many things I can do off the line,” he says. “The whole mental game of getting in an opponent’s head, thinking what they’ll do, seeing what they actually do, I love that part of it.”
Andrew is also as a senior captain for the Indians this winter. He’s taken several of North Haven’s younger sabre fencers under his wing.
“I always wanted to be a captain since the start, because most of my friends were in that position,” Andrew says. “I definitely enjoyed the leadership role, because I enjoy teaching other people new stuff and refining their techniques.”
As the season comes to its conclusion, Andrew says that North Haven is primed to turn in a solid showing at the State Championship.
“My goal for us is to win states,” says Andrew. “We came in second last year, but I feel like we’re pretty strong this year.”
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