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The original articles can be found with a picture at .... http://www.snponline.com/articles/2010/09/22/westerville_news_and_public_opinion/schools/wefencing%20_20100922_0253pm_4.txt

Instructor wants local thrust of fencing enthusiasm

* Without an active school program, the private instructor aims to spark interest in the sport -- and help students win college scholarships.
Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 3:38 PM EDT

Isabel Alvarez (left) provides fencing instruction to Evan Wessels, 11, during a class at her studio in Uptown Westerville on Monday, Sept. 20.

A local fencing instructor hopes that her new training program can put Westerville students in the national spotlight.

Isabel Patricia Alvarez of the Profencing Sports Club in Dublin and Westerville said she wants the new training program, targeted specifically at Westerville high school students, to increase awareness of the sport and eventually prepare students for national competition.

High school students, she said, have typically had lower rates of participation in the sport than other age groups.

"There is a huge gap in participation for ages 16-19," she said. "The main goal is to increase those numbers."

Alvarez wants those students to be ready for the first ever National High School Championship tournament, to be held next May in Independence, Ohio. The United States Fencing Association has long hosted national competitions for all ages but the new tournament is a targeted effort to attract students, Alvarez said.

She said that communities like Westerville, which has no school fencing teams and had no local fencing programs until last year, make it difficult for young adults to get involved in the sport.

In the Columbus area, only Dublin and Hilliard schools have fencing teams.

Alvarez, who has been fencing for more than 30 years, said she hopes her new programs will create a lasting fencing community in the region. She operates the Westerville Profencing club from 131/2 E. College Ave., a second floor studio in historic Uptown.

"I hope that I can start preparing kids from Westerville and nearby areas, and start to create a great tradition," she said.

The new high school program will begin with three introductory classes in October to gauge interest and solidify practice schedules.

Increasing local participation, and thus opening the door to increased success on the national level, will reflect positively on the character of the community, Alvarez said.

"Bringing these kids to national recognition would be very good for the image of the schools and the image of the city as a whole," she said.

The new program for high schoolers will be flexible enough to accommodate students with busy schedules, Alvarez said -- but it will also be rigorous.

"Fencing is a sport that requires continuous practice and dedication in order to improve," she said.

The fencing instructor said she hopes her program will inspire Westerville students to stay involved with the sport well into their college years, and prepare them to earn fencing scholarships to top schools.

And in getting Westerville residents of all ages and economic realities involved, Alvarez said that she hopes to dispel some common misconceptions about her sport.

"A lot of people think it's an elitist sport that is only for wealthy people," she said. "My program is designed to bring it to the common people, and help them see how fun and rewarding it is."

For all her efforts churning out top-quality competitors, the Westerville resident said that she is equally motivated simply to spread her love of fencing to the city she calls home.

"I love this town," she said. "I would really love to see my program grow here, and to attract as many from the community as possible."

Profencing can be reached on the web at profencing-proesgrima.com. Westerville residents interested in registering for classes can contact Alvarez at profencingsportclub@gmail.com or 614-256-8503.





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