Exploring The Mamaroneck Fencing Team

A hidden athletic gem shines through at MHS.

Fencers practice to prep for upcoming events.

Photo Courtesy of the Mahiscan

Fencers practice to prep for upcoming events.

Samantha Rosuck, Sports Page Director

The Mamaroneck High School Fencing team has been a part of our school for at least 47 years, but it has never gotten the recognition that it deserves. Since it first became a sport, fencing has always been underrated and has not received much attention from the world of sports. This has directly translated to the community of MHS. People tend to forget that fencing is a prominent activity  at the high school, with impressive success every year. 

The fencing team has even been here beyond its 47 years, with its first coach being the Assistant Superintendent Doctor Calvert Schlick. Before coming to Mamaroneck, Schlick was a fencing coach for the US Navy team, while leading them to the NCAA championships and producing members of the team that would make it to the US Pan American Games and the Olympics. Our current coach, John Wilhem, has been coaching the high school team for six seasons, while previously serving as  an assistant coach for Stony Brook,Yeshiva University, Hackley, and Hewlett High School. Wilhem loves coaching at Mamaroneck because of all the new fencers he gets to teach. Specifically, he said, “It is wonderful to introduce the sport and see athletes develop into accomplished fencers.” Part of what makes the fencing team special is all the members that have never had real fencing experience. 

Led by Coach Wilhem, the team practices Monday through Friday, from 2:45pm – 6:15pm. At the beginning of each practice, the team does 30 minutes of conditioning, before suiting up for action. The boys and girls practice at the same time, with the three different types of fencing; foil, epee, and saber. In the middle of the practices, everyone joins together to practice saber. They split up to specialize in foil or epee at both the beginning and the end of the practice. In those blocks, there is both group and one on one instruction, with the more experienced fencers helping out. 

This system of practicing clearly works very well for the team, considering they have achieved great success this season. As fencing wins and losses are calculated as percentages, for the girls, Captain Ellie Zeballos (‘24) is leading the girls to victory, as Girls’ Foil is winning 67% of their matches this season and Cynthia Yang (‘25) is topping the team with 75%. In addition, girls epee is also doing well, winning 52% of their matches, led by Captain Marina Varghese with 67% and Melanie Lopez-Ramirez with 78%. 

In addition to these impressive girls’ results,, boys’ foil is undefeated, including Captain Robbie De Jager (‘23), who was named Section One’s best fencer. Plus, boys epee has won 67%, with Captain Leif Hurdal (‘22) winning 86%. 

While the fencing team is extremely successful, it is still not very well known at the high school. To combat this, Coach Wilhelm requests that there be a feeder team at the middle school because it would be “vital to the growth of the high school team.” Hopefully, Wilhem and the rest of the fencing squad will achieve this, so that their program can continue to grow at Mamaroneck.