Aaron Lester, the Swordsman

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Aaron Lester, the Swordsman

By Emma Shields

En Garde, fleche, lunge, and parry. Some may have heard these terms in movies, others may have no idea what they are, and a select few know that they are fencing terms. Sophomore Aaron Lester can collaborate these moves into a fierce attack – he is a fencer.

Once a week, Lester goes to fencing practice for one-on-one lessons with his coach, Ted Eckersdorff, who participated in the World Championships for modern pentathlon. This includes pistol shooting, fencing, swimming, horseback riding, and cross-country running. Eckersdorff offers private one-hour lessons at his house in Mill Valley. Since Tam does not have a fencing club of it’s own, Lester found out about fencing by chance. “I never really thought about it as a sport until one day I was walking down my street when I saw my coach fencing with a student. I was curious about [fencing] and it looked like something I might be interested in,” he said.

Training for fencing is a rigorous affair, and Lester often finds it difficult to keep good form after a long day of training. “During practice me and my coach do a variety of drills, practice [matches], and conditioning to get us in better shape and more adept for fencing,” Lester said.  Eckersdorff has been working him especially hard recently, to get him in the best shape for up-coming competitions. “I have seen a lot of improvement in Aaron’s fencing over the past 6 months,” Eckersdorff said. “His footwork is much smoother, he doesn’t get tired as quickly, and he’s been going out of his comfort zone to try new moves.”

Lester has been fencing for more than two years now and has competed in tournaments all over California. He believes that once you get over the stage-fright of being in an official competition it becomes much more fun. “The first time you go to a competition it is terrifying. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, I was like a lost little kid,” he laughed as he recalled how nervous he was. “I also had butterflies in my stomach and my adrenaline was pumping, so when I got on the strip to fight my opponent, I was jumping and falling all over the place.” Now, after attending more competitions, Lester has been less nervous and more comfortable with the thought of hundreds of people watching him fence.

When asked about his favorite memory of fencing, Lester pondered for a moment and smiled. “I really enjoy when I do unofficial fencing meets at the Branson School. My coach also coaches their school team, so me and some other Tam fencers go over there and fence against their team. It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

With all of this practice and training, Lester believes that he will make his goal of competing in the Junior Olympics will come true. “This past year I’ve been practicing hard and I hope to qualify for [the Junior Olympics] next year.” Eckersdorff believes that with a little push and confidence Lester can make the cut. “Fencing is all about taking risks and the confidence it takes to do a move,” he said. “Good fencers can see an opportunity, but great fencers can act on it.”