Featured Athlete: Gabriella Acevedo

Gaby+Acevedo+holding+epee+and+helmet.

Gaby Acevedo holding epee and helmet.

There are many sharp athletes at Mendham, but Gaby Acevedo cuts through them all. Gaby is a senior at Mendham and joined the team back in her freshman year. She had no prior experience, but she says, “I knew I wanted to do a sport in high school. I just wasn’t sure which one and I had friends who were doing it too so I thought why not give it a try and I loved it and I stayed with it.” She tells me she is very “academically oriented, still enjoys doing sports and exercise.” It is also a great de-stressor and it helps her to “forget about everything during practice.” She dedicates nearly 10-12 hours of her week to fencing in addition to her studies and after-school violin lessons. It is clear she is an avid student and well-rounded participating in many areas of interest. She describes that fencing is “like human chess because it’s very strategic when you’re trying to get a point on the person. The basics are you’re carrying a sword that’s not sharpened and you’re trying to get a point on the other person without them hitting you.” She reminisces on her very first bout saying, “One of my most memorable ones would be freshman year on the varsity strip. I remember I won that bout and I’ve never forgotten that one. It was a reminder that I can do this. I can continue fencing. I’ll be okay.” She has come a long way since freshman year where she struggled with pre-meet jitters, but now has “a healthy amount of nerves”.  She adds “I’ve also learned to be more strategic in my fencing. Applying the skills I’ve learned more strategically to hopefully get a point.” In order to prepare for a meet, Gaby says “Mentally I have to calm down because everyone gets nervous. Physically to prepare I’ll do stretches at home do a little running and then at the meet I try to warm up and keep my heart rate moving so I don’t focus on any nerves because it’s always nerve-wracking and talking to people helps to calm down but I always practice fencing beforehand.” She also says, “Even though it’s an individual sport it’s also a team sport because having everyone there to support you makes it all the more fun and enjoyable. Because when you do it by yourself there’s no one there it’s just you, but when you have a whole team behind you it gives you the energy to keep going.”

Each person has their individual wins and as a team as long as we cheer each other on and try our best it’s a type of win.”

— Gaby Acevedo

She comments on the dynamic of the team this year saying, “All the people from last year it’s the same dynamic obviously we miss the seniors who graduated last year, but it’s the same dynamic and now we’re involving the new fencers and the team’s becoming like a family again which is really nice. ” She also predicts how the season will go saying, “I think we have a very good shot of winning many meets but I also think that just because we don’t win a meet doesn’t mean we did a bad job. Each person has their individual wins and as a team as long as we cheer each other on and try our best it’s a type of win.” When asked how fencing has changed her life she says, “It makes winter much more enjoyable at least at school. It’s given me a big friend group outside of typical school friend groups. It’s more so the community aspect of it than the actual sport because obviously, the sport keeps you in shape it’s exercise, but anything can do that. Fencing gave me a whole mini family.” She advises those looking to start fencing “I would say if you want to do it go for it. Obviously, like any other sport it takes time, and work, and dedication, but as long as you love whatever you’re doing you don’t feel it. So do what you love and if it’s fencing amazing.”