While many children play fight with swords, sophomore Rob Rountree takes that childhood game to a new level.
Rob has been fencing for seven years now at Richmond Fencing Club (RFC) in Scott’s Addition.
When he was younger, Rob tried other sports before fencing, but he enjoyed fencing the most.
“I tried a lot of normal sports with teams and never really enjoyed them,” Rob said. With fencing, Rob said “there’s a lot of nice people and it’s fun to do.”
Wendy Rountree, Rob’s mom, believes fencing has taught Rob many life lessons. “Fencing has taught Rob to focus on the things that are in his control,” said Mrs. Rountree.
Rob attends two to three hour practices three days a week. A typical fencing practice involves taking a class and then having some open fence time to practice new techniques and skills.
Classes consist of “doing a lot of footwork and drills and just practicing your bladework” said Rob.
“[Rob] is the type of student you want to coach, as he is open to feedback and willing to adjust in order to improve his fencing,” said Cyndi Lucente, Rob’s coach.
In addition to practices, Rob participates in fencing competitions every other weekend. While some competitions are local, Rob also competes at national events. In the past, Rob competed at Summer Nationals and the Junior Olympics in fencing. In the next few weeks, Rob will be traveling to compete in his next Junior Olympics.
Although Rob is a fierce competitor, Rob’s mom said “win or loss he remains a great sport.” Rob’s coach agrees that Rob “has a lot of fight and never gives up, no matter what.”
In fencing there is a system that rates fencers on a scale of A-E and unrated. Rob is currently a C rated fencer, but Coach Lucente said “my goal for Rob is for him to earn his B rating.”
When Rob was younger, he earned his E and D rating within 24 hours. Rob’s coach said “I feel that weekend was the catalyst for him to become more competitive and motivated.”
Since then, Rob has been “a great competitor [who] learns from both successes and failures,” said Coach Lucente.
Rob also coaches an intermediate class at RFC. Rob’s coach said “he is a big help…he brings a friendliness and enthusiasm that makes students comfortable and happy to be there.”
Looking forward, Rob hopes to continue fencing in college.
“I’d like to be on a D1 team,” said Rob.
Coach Lucente said “I am certain Rob will be in the sport of fencing for a long time to come.”
As for now, Rob remains “the type of student that makes coaching rewarding and fun,” said Rob’s coach. She continued, “he is one of my favorite students to coach.”