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In basketball gyms, cafeterias, hallways, and field houses, over 2000 New Jersey students are competing against each other with swords. Fencing for the Edge is a feature-length documentary capturing the 2013-2014 High School Fencing season in the state of New Jersey, the most active high school fencing league in the country. With many students beginning as freshmen, fencing is one of the few sports kids can start at a later age and still become champions within four years. The students who fence are outliers, geeks, shy, incredibly smart, specialized athletes. Once the Marching Band season ends, the Columbia High School fencing team reaches full attendance. On the Bernards High School team, most of the fencers are in AP classes and have the highest GPAs in the school. These students find comfort in a sport that lets them be who they are with other like-minded peers. The team camaraderie among fencers is strong and welcoming for such an individualized sport.
In an individual sport like fencing, competition is direct with one other person. The fencer may have a teammate or a coach near their strip, but in the end it is the fencer who makes the actions and decides what to do in the moment. Important decisions must come quickly and with confidence for the fencer to succeed. Like in high school, how a person responds to confrontation or the stress of a test defines their character. Fencing is not just a high school sport for these students, but a way to shape the rest of their lives. It gives them the opportunity to face adversity and decide what they will do in the moment. And without fencing, many of these students would not have that opportunity in their formative years.
This was not only my story as a artsy-jock high school student, but the story I will share for thousands of kids in New Jersey in Fencing for the Edge.