Here's a story from Town & Style Magazine:
When most kids were starting basketball or soccer leagues, Priory senior Alexandre Amice was interested in fencing. After seeing a demonstration at school in second grade, Alexandre wanted to try his hand at the sport. It was a good choice. He’s been consistently ranked in the top 20 in his age group in the United States since he started actively competing at age 9 and was just named the junior Midwest Regional Champion for the 2015-2016 season.
“After I told my mom I wanted to try it out, she started looking for coaches,” he says. They found Hossam Hassan, the former National Egyptian coach who qualified his country for the Olympics in 2004. “His club, The Fencers Academy, was the closest to our house and it turns out he was the only competitive coach in town,” Alexandre says. “I still train with him five days a week.”
The 18-year-old maintains a stringent schedule, adding in weight lifting two to three times a week. “I train a minimum of around two hours during the week, and on Saturdays, it’s around four hours,” he says. Each day is a set routine, some focused on fencing and others including footwork and reflex drills, defense/offense strategies and tournament practice. This kind of dedication gets him where he wants to be: last year, he finished 14th in the nation.
There are three types of weapons in fencing: foil, épée and sabre; Alexandre competes in foil. “I have to hit my target in the torso with the tip of my blade,” he explains. “It’s not illegal to hit off target, but it will stop the match. There are rules governing who has the right of way, who is protected.” In his efforts to explain tournament play and the skills involved, Alexandre notes that the concept is simple, but the application is complicated. Tournaments involve five-touch battles (the first person to reach five wins) until the elimination rounds, which are 15-touch battles.
Alexandre competed for the first time when he was 8, but says he became really competitive by age 9, when he ranked among the top 10 in his age group. “I was bigger than most kids, which made me pretty good,” he says. “As you get older, it becomes more competitive. In the 15 and under category, people fight to get in the top three because that’s how you compete in the World Championship tournament.”
Both national and international tournaments affect U.S. rankings. “I fence in one national tournament a month between October and February, which are all over the country,” Alexandre says. Certain international tournaments are designated to affect national standings, and he has traveled to France and Italy for two of them. Alexandre competes in the 20 and under category and the Seniors division, which is reserved for players of any age who meet a minimum rating. “You have to be in at least the C category, and I compete in A, the highest category,” he says. “The top three players in the Seniors division make the Olympic team, so technically I’ve fenced in the Olympic trials.”
With all of his rankings and success, there is a simple reason Alexandre stuck with the sport: it’s fun, he says. “I love the speed. You have to be focused and very disciplined. If you’re not, someone who isn’t as good can make you look ridiculous.”
Alexandre makes sure to note that his success would not have been possible without the support of his coach and the Priory community. He will continue his battles at the University of Pennsylvania, where he will join the fencing team this fall.