When some of Jake McGillion-Moore’s friends learn he’s a fencer, they assume he builds fences.
The Staples High School sophomore is an athletic fencer.
But he does a lot more than parry and thrust.
Jake — who has dual citizenship — is on the Irish junior national team. This week he’s in Verona, Italy, for the cadet (Under-17) world championship.
He competes in Cancun, Budapest and Paris. This summer he vies for the US title in St. Louis. He’s already a 2-time state champ.
Not bad for someone who has been fencing for only 3 years. And who got into the sport only because his younger, “more athletic” sister Katie was doing it.
Jake is a well-rounded young man. A lifelong Westporter and Life Scout (his Eagle Scout project is renovating the backyard of Caroline House, the Bridgeport youth center where he volunteers 2 days a week), he also plays bass in the Staples orchestra (and classical piano).
But fencing has become an important part of his life.
Jake loves the challenges — mental as well as physical.
“You have to make fast decisions,” he explains. “You figure out what your opponent is going to do, and then manipulate him.”
You’d think upper body strength is important, Jake says that leg strength is key. Fencers are in constantly motion, getting close to or away from their opponents.
At the Fairfield Fencing Academy Jake practices footwork and lunging, in high-intensity intervals. He also does weight training, and works on fitness.
Fencing is not mainstream. It attracts “people looking for a technical sport,” Jake says. It also appeals to young kids. “They think it’s sword fighting. They realize pretty soon it’s a refined sport.”
Jake’s route to the Irish national team runs through his father, a Dublin native. Luke was born in the US — but, he notes, “my dad plays Irish music, and uses Irish words.”
Right now, Jake is competing for a world championship. There really are no words for that.
(Hat tip: Jennifer Jackson)