Where it’s OK to be playing with swords

Fencing classes at Buchanan Rec Center provide socially distanced opportunity for kids

Deb Hurley Brobst
dbrobst@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 3/2/21

Few sports exist with social distancing in mind. Think of fencing where a typical 43-inch sword naturally keeps participants apart. Add in masks, and it’s the perfect sport for the COVID-19 …

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Where it’s OK to be playing with swords

Fencing classes at Buchanan Rec Center provide socially distanced opportunity for kids

Posted

Few sports exist with social distancing in mind.

Think of fencing where a typical 43-inch sword naturally keeps participants apart. Add in masks, and it’s the perfect sport for the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Evergreen Park & Recreation District offers fencing classes on Monday afternoons at the Buchanan Rec Center that teach new skills, allow kids to practice coordination, teach them the language of a new sport and provide an outlet for pent-up energy.

In the beginner class on Feb. 23, 11 students learned how to parry and circle parry, which are defensive moves, while others practiced attacks.

According to Kendra Head, recreation supervisor for programs, EPRD offers fencing to add variety to its programming.

“Fencing is a good way for kids to develop discipline, respect and good sportsmanship that can be carried through everyday life.  During COVID-19, the numbers have been really good, which is great. It shows parents want to get their kids out to try new things.”

Fencing Academy of Denver based in Littleton has provided the classes through the rec district for the last two years, and academy owner Tom Strzalkowski hopes to build the programs in Evergreen and Golden, so participants can compete against each other.

For now, it’s just fun for the kids and gives them a release from online learning, not getting to play as much with their friends and other restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Strzalkowski has been fencing since he and his family immigrated from Poland in 1983 when he was 10. Fencing turned into a passion, and he was part of the U.S. Olympic team in 1996 in Atlanta.

Bridget Yoder of Arvada, who has been fencing since she was 8, taught last week’s class. She called fencing her perfect outlet as a child because she wasn’t good at team sports. That passion as a young girl has continued.

Yoder spent the first 30 minutes of the beginner class having students practice across-the-room movements before they put on their fencing gear — definitely the favorite part of class — so students could practice parries and thrusts, advances and retreats.

It was apparent the children were having fun while working up a sweat.

Bethany Van Mill brought her twins, Levi and Payton, 9, to learn to fence, noting that it was something out of the ordinary, and the family knew little about fencing but thought it would be fun to try.

Parent Nicole Phillips watched the class as her son Joshua, 8, participated. She noted that the class provided Joshua with discipline and focus, and an after-school activity when most have been canceled.

“Besides,” she said, “what kid doesn’t like playing with swords?”

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