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04/02/2024 11:40 AM

Takyar Took It All the Way as Multi-Year Captain for Hand Fencing

Senior captain Arianna Takyar capped off her career with the Hand fencing team by serving as a second-year squad leader for the girls’ épée squad, which finished runner-up at the Team State Championships this winter. Photo courtesy of Arianna Takyar

Right from the get-go, Arianna Takyar fell head over heels for the fencing strip. Yet it was the infatuation via the atmosphere of her team and the encouragement of her coaching that kept her dedicated to her dueling craft all the way to top achievements for the Hand fencing team.

The senior grew up with her two main sports being volleyball and fencing, joining both as a freshman. Arianna served as an influential leader this year for the girls’ épée squad, helping to pilot the club to a second-place finish at the Team State Championship and runner-up placement overall for the girls.

“I like the individual aspects of the sport, but the team here has helped keep me in the sport; it is like a family,” says Arianna, who also served as a senior captain for the Tigers on the volleyball court. “My family at home has also helped me, because my sisters and parents come to every meet, and I feel so supported by them. My teammates and coaches also keep me going when I am not feeling at my best. They really help pick me up.”

The camaraderie within the close-knit fencing community goes well beyond team boundaries, per Arianna, as she and the Tigers are quite friendly with other schools. With respect to her main discipline, she felt right at home with épée, due in large part to its balanced pace of play and cerebral component.

“I love the fact that everyone within the sport is so friendly. We are also close with fencers on nearby teams we face often, like Guilford and Morgan,” Arianna says. “I joined épée my freshman year, and I liked it because it is less aggressive than the other two. You have to put more strategy into it, and it takes more time.”

Arianna’s individual showings within her postseason performance may not have turned out as she desired. Still, she and the remainder of her group turned it right around a week later at the team competitions to cement some major steps for the girls’ program as a whole.

“I think at the Individual State Championships, I had an off day. I finished 12th and 15th overall in past seasons, but this year I was 29th out of 64,” says Arianna. “But then at Team States, we did quite well for épée and finished second, and then the girls finished second overall. It was a big deal for us.”

Across her dual athletic avenues, Arianna realized a big path to prominence was a road paved with a sound mind. The clear head came from her stemming the valves of personal pressure.

“I am personally so hard on myself when it comes to fencing. I used to put so much pressure on myself,” Arianna says. “I realized that I can and have to count on my teammates a lot. I have also gotten better mentally, because when I get in my head about things, I get out of it quicker now.”

Hand Head Coach Michael Ginsburg explains that Arianna’s determination to succeed could not even be denied by a pandemic. It is thanks in large part to her brimming optimism and passion for the competition that filters throughout the remainder of the roster.

“Arianna started with the Hand fencing team back in the fall of 2020 during the COVID restrictions, but not even that could stop her light from shining through. Even as a freshman, she went 5-0 in her varsity bouts for our épée squad and has never looked back,” says Ginsburg. “I cannot think of a single day Arianna has not brought her positive attitude to a practice or meet. While she has helped the women's épée team finish second in the state, it is her leadership that makes Ari such an integral part of our team. She was elected épée captain as both a junior and a senior for fencing and has helped form such a tight group amongst her peers. They simply just keep moving forward throughout all of the ups and downs a long season can bring. While I am certainly not looking forward to Ari graduating this year, still her path forward is limitless, and the foundation she has left behind for our team will undoubtedly carry on for years to come.”

The feeling is mutual with Arianna, who credits Ginsburg for fostering a foundation for true enjoyment of the game–growing the Tigers’ reach that much more. Arianna explains that she longs to see Hand continue its upward trajectory after being leaps and bounds better than when she arrived on campus.

“We were not that good four years ago,” says Arianna. “Coach Ginsburg put in a lot of time to help us with our techniques. He also helped make practices so enjoyable. He has really done a lot for the team.”

Arianna notes that after her several campaigns as a captain, she discovered that you are not only responsible for managing several individuals, but also their issues and shortcomings. She expands on that by feeling that a strong leader lends a helping hand and an empathetic ear and heart.

“One of the biggest things I have learned is that if you are a leader, you have many people counting on you,” Arianna says. “You have to put your difficulties and desires aside sometimes. It is not all about you, and you have to understand the difficulties of others.”