The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

The School Newspaper of Winston Churchill High School.

The Observer

Athlete of the month: Aydan Lee

Photo by Aydan Lee
WCHS junior Aydan Lee (on the left) makes his opponent fall short from lunging. Lunging is one of the most commonly used form of attack in fencing. Only skilled fencers will know how to properly be defensive and make their opponent fall short.

Every WCHS student has experienced the frustration of being stuck between two answer choices on a test, both seemingly correct, but only one can be rewarded a point. Similarly, fencers like WCHS junior Aydan Lee continuously face physical and mental battles when deciding which move to execute. Just as one point on a test can separate an “A” from a “B,” so too can one point in a fencing match separate the winner from the loser. 

Because WCHS does not have a fencing team, many students may not be aware of what this sport consists of. As an overview, it is known to be “physical chess,” as athletes must be sharp-witted when deciding which and when to use a technique that would best allow them to land a “hit” with their sword on their opponent. The number of “hits” corresponds to the number of points awarded to an athlete, contributing to a broader point system determining an athlete’s overall ranking. Therefore, fencing is all about attention to detail, as an athlete must quickly and meticulously calculate every move to the greatest extent in order to succeed. 

“During the match, there is always a feeling of regret of some movement and wishing you did another movement instead, which could have completely changed the turnout,” Lee said. “However, it is important to stay focused and block out those thoughts so they do not interfere with your following strategies.”

There may have been times when Lee regretted carrying out his chosen tactic instead of another one, but one thing he does not regret is entering the sport of fencing. 

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“I have been fencing for eight years now and know that there are many more years to come,” Lee said. “I remember being obsessed with Star Wars, especially watching the lightsaber battle scenes, which I would try to reenact. Then, my mom advised me to try fencing, and I have been doing it ever since.”

Lee’s story of how he got into fencing exemplifies how tiny, lighthearted moments can largely shape an individual’s life. Lee might have admired watching the Jedi fight when he was younger, but now it seems to be a full circle moment as he has become a Jedi of his own: he has become a Team USA member, ranking eighth in the U.S. and 26th in the world for his age group. 

“One of my ongoing goals is to continue to move up in rank,” Lee said. “I have a competitive spirit so I believe that the sky is the limit and know that there is always something I can improve upon.”

Lee practices around five times per week with his group, but he also has individual lessons with his coach to refine his technique. He understands the importance of giving his all in practice, even when times get incredibly challenging. 

“I remember the difficult challenge the COVID-19 pandemic posed on my fencing career,” Lee said. “We resorted to online fencing where we would hop on a Zoom session and fence a dummy, with our coach providing feedback based on that. It, however, is still not comparable to fencing with a human being, so I felt out of practice after the pandemic, and it took some time to restore what I had lost to continue moving in the forward direction.” 

Even when time is continuously moving forward, disruptions in life can make individuals feel like they are moving backward. Lee has experienced this through the pandemic, but when looking at the bigger picture, he knows he is meant for this sport, which is meant for him. 

“Each local, North American Cup or international tournament I attend always gives me a boost of motivation to continue to better myself and serves as a reminder of why I do this sport,” Lee said. “One of my most memorable moments was when I placed top four in a North American Cup tournament, but even with the tournaments where I placed lower, I came out of them feeling happier.”

Each individual has their own unique thing they do that makes them feel most themselves. For Lee, it is fencing, as he would like to commit to a Division I college to further his fencing career post-high school. Nonetheless, whatever college Lee may attend, he will be introduced to a new community, which he has expressed as one of the most exciting parts. 

“I am incredibly grateful for the fencing community,” Lee said. “Through traveling all over the country and world for tournaments, I have been able to meet new people with different backgrounds, but despite our differences, we all act as a single team together, supporting and pushing each other to go beyond our limits.”

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About the Contributor
Catherine Chan
Catherine Chan, Assistant Online Editor
Catherine Chan is currently a junior at WCHS and the Assistant Online Editor for the 2023-2024 school year. She is excited to work with new people this year and continue her passion for writing. Outside of school, she is a competitive swimmer and lyrical dancer.

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