News

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 12, 2020

High School Fencing Club Launches in Souderton, PA

High Schoolers Learning How to Fence - From a Safe Distance

Souderton, PA —

En Garde! The new Souderton Area High School Fencing Club kicked off its inaugural season Wednesday with their first fencing lesson. Thirteen high-schoolers and their club advisor socially distanced and wearing face masks and fencing masks, paid close attention to fencing coach Nate Hoffmann, of the Bucks County Academy of Fencing as he explained the basics.

The new fencing club is the culmination of a year of work by Skye Scarlett, an 11th grader that has been fencing for three years at BCAF. “I love fencing and I really wanted to find a way for more kids to try the sport”, says Skye. “The first step was talking to my fencing coaches and the owner of the fencing academy to see if they were willing to teach at a school club. I was nervous that they would think it wasn’t a great idea but when I talked Maestro Mark Holbrow, owner of the Bucks County Academy of Fencing, he was on board immediately.”

Next came the process of finding a teacher to be the club faculty sponsor, and getting the club approved by the school. Skye explains, “We were really lucky that French teacher Madame Cushmore was interested in learning to fence and was willing to be our faculty sponsor.” Once the club was approved, Skye had one last problem to solve, how to fund a typically expensive sport. “I wanted to find a way that students in the club could learn at no cost to them or their families so that everyone could participate. I talked to a lot of people about it and in the end, I decided to start a not-for-profit organization. It’s called “En Garde! Souderton” and it raises the funds needed to pay for a fencing space, gear to use, and the fencing instructors.” With the help of some adult volunteers, En Garde! was formed and received their official status as a 501 (c)(3) in March, just when Covid hit! Skye reports that it was really crazy for a while with schools being closed but she was not discouraged. Fundraising was tougher than anticipated because the fencing equipment suppliers were hit hard by tournament cancellations and could not provide any support. However, by September, En Garde! had raised all the money needed for the first year of the club. Skye explained that many of the senior fencers at the academy stepped up and made donations because they were excited to see kids getting to learn to fence. Others that work with kids in the area also donated because they wanted to support the opportunity for all kids to participate regardless of individual family’s financial circumstances.

The club will meet weekly at Bucks County Academy of Fencing-West in Hatfield, PA. Owner Mark Holbrow, a nationally recognized fencer and fencing coach opened BCAF-West in 2010 as a second location. It has 12 Olympic-size fencing strips and a large area that easily accommodates the high school club even with social distancing measures in effect. BCAF’s original location in Lambertville, NJ is one of the largest in the country and 2021 marks the 40-year anniversary of BCAF’s founding. Opened in 1981, it was located in the basement of an old stone building in New Hope, PA, until it moved across the river to a larger space in Lambertville, NJ in 2003. Maestro Holbrow is happy to see the Souderton club take off. He notes that fencing teaches focus, self-respect, respect of others, paying attention to detail, and the importance of hard work and perseverance, all skills kids will use for a lifetime. Skye says she has learned a lot from fencing and from starting the club. She plans on spending the next year developing the organization and encouraging the younger members who will take over as the club leaders when she graduates next year.

For more information about the club or the not-for-profit organization that supports it, contact Skye at 215-721-0365 or email engardesouderton@gmail.com

If you would like to learn more about fencing, visit BCAF at www.bcaf.com