County fencer Reese
is at the top of her class
from the area learn the skill at Louisville club
Helen E. McKinney
(October 2006) At just 16 years old, Haley
Reese has achieved national recognition for a sport often referred to
as a game of physical chess. Through fencing, she has gained
a tight hold on an extremely mental sport.
Haley Reese recently
competed on a National
level in Chicago.
After moving to Oldham County from Anchorage, Ala., Reese
picked up a newspaper and read an article about fencing. She decided
this was the recreational sport for her, and she has been fencing for
the last five years.
Fencing has its roots in ancient combat. Around 1200 BC, Egyptians began
fencing for sport. During the Renaissance era, it gained a reputation
as a high art form.
Fencing is definitely a game of tactics, said Reese. You
have to give false impressions to your opponent in order to outsmart
them and win.
The objective of fencing is for two competitors face off in a bout.
They compete to score points on each other with their weapons. To beat
an opponent, a fencer must use bladework, footwork, strategy and tactics.
What Reese likes best about fencing is a combination of qualities. The
intensity of the sport makes it appealing to her. It is you versus
your opponent. Its very personal, said Reese.
Fencing is also a fast and emotional sport. If you win, you win
because you deserve it, Reese said. If you lose, you only
have yourself to blame.
Haley is very dedicated as far as practicing goes, said
her mother, Michelle Reese. Having twin sisters who are athletic was
an encouragement to Reese to try her hand at sports.
Reese practices at the Louisville Fencing Center five days a week, two
to three hours a day, said her mother. It is a very easy sport
to get into, said Michelle Reese of this highly competitive recreational
When first getting into fencing, equipment is provided. An introduction
course generally lasts once a week for eight weeks. If you remain with
it, you must buy the equipment, said Michelle Reese.
Reese spars with an opponent
at the fencing club in Louisville.
Regular fencing equipment consists of weapons, masks,
jackets and gloves. It has been included in Olympic programming since
1896. Reese practices every week at the Louisville Fencing Center, located
at 1401 W. Muhammad Ali Blvd., Louisville.
The (center) is the most successful competitive fencing facility
in the state of Kentucky, said center volunteer Michael Gauss.
His own daughter, Samantha Gauss, is also a fencer.
Fencing appeals to a child or adult on a more individual level rather
than as a team sport, said Gauss. Fencing requires some real attention
to technique, he said.
Reese traveled to Chicago on May 27 to compete against many of the top
national fencers at the Hutchison Open, hosted by the Chicago Athletic
Association Fencers Club. She placed first overall in the mixed
(men and women) competition, which featured 41 fencers from as far away
as New York and Nebraska.
In July 2006, she went on to compete in the National Championships held
in Atlanta. She placed sixth in her age group (known as cadets, ages
17-under), and 13th in the age group above her (ages 20-under).
Im very competitive when fencing. I have to prove myself
and what I can do, said this Oldham County High School senior.
Reese has had the same coach since beginning her career in fencing five
Leszck Stawicki formerly ran the Polish National Team from 1973 to 1990,
and participated in six Olympics as the Polish coach. He has been with
the Louisville Fencing Center for 16 years. His athletes have won 17
National Championships. He now participates in the U.S. National Paraplegic
A coach always wants to be very proud of their students,
said Stawicki. He called Reese an exceptional student, who works extremely
hard to hone her abilities.
Certain skills are needed to excel at fencing. Stawicki cited bravery
as topping the list. You have to know how much to put into it
and never give up, he said.
Many colleges have extended official visits to Reese, based on her outstanding
merits as a fencer. She has been invited to visit Penn State University
and the U.S. Air Force Academy, said Michelle Reese.
Fencing classes are currently being offered through the Oldham County
Family YMCA in Buckner by the Louisville Fencing Center, said YMCA Executive
Director Peggy Kilgore. Classes are limited to 18 students and filled
up fast, said Kilgore.
A new class will begin in January 2007. Youth classes are for ages 6-12
and adult classes for ages 13-older. Equipment is provided. Cost is
$85 for YMCA members and $100 for nonmembers.
For more information on the YMCA classes,
contact Peggy Kilgore at (502) 222-9358. For more information on the
Louisville Fencing Center, contact Michael Gauss at (502) 419-4137.
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