Sophomore Carlos Santos Reflects on Success in the Fencing Piste

Many East Grand Rapids students participate in sports, however Carlos Santos ‘24 may participate in one of the most unique sports at East: fencing.  Santos began fencing in fifth grade when a family friend introduced him to the sport. Santos hasn’t looked back since. 

Thank goodness he was introduced to the sport, because Santos has excelled. In addition to the competitive aspect of the sport, Santos loves the community and finds joy in the sport itself. “It’s just something that I enjoy, it’s been there ever since fifth grade,” Santos said.

There are three unique types of fencing which an athlete can compete in, or even specialize in called foil, épée, and sabre. 

It is common for fencers to specialize in one form of fencing once they understand their strengths and weaknesses and also what they enjoy most.

“I do foil- the target is just the person,” Santos said. “Then there is an épée, where it’s your whole body. Then, there is sabre and you can hit anywhere above the waist.”

Just like most sports, fencing requires hours of intense training to prepare for competitions. 

“I practice 3 to 4 days a week,” Santos said, “we usually warm up then stretch and start practice bouts.” 

In fencing, athletes typically compete individually at tournaments. However, there are team events at the larger competitions.  Santos competes as an individual, but travels with his team.

There are tournament opportunities almost every weekend. 

“You can choose which tournaments you go to,” Santos said, “and most tournaments are in the Midwest.” 

The competition structure of these tournaments sometimes varies, but athletes become very accustomed to the format. 

“There are pools, right, and then preliminaries, and then the elimination brackets after that,” Santos said. 

As Santos continues his career, he looks forward to the time he gets to spend on the fencing strip each week making memories with teammates and developing as both a person and athlete.

 “My favorite part about fencing is probably the friends that I have made over the years,” Santos said.

Like athletes in any sport, Santos credits his years of fencing with invaluable lessons which he will carry through life. 

“Fencing has taught me how to calm myself really quickly and how to use patience,” Santos said.