Most students at Mason use their free time outside of school to something relaxing like watching Netflix or taking a nap, but freshman Emmy Reitinger uses it to practice and compete in a sport she’s been dedicated to since she was eight: fencing. A nationally ranked member of the D.C. Fencer’s Club, she has competed in a variety of national competitions throughout the years, including the Junior Olympics and the North American Cup.

“My fencing club is basically my home away from home,” said Reitinger.

Fencing has always been a family affair for the Reitingers- Emmy’s brother Luke fences alongside her, and her brother Josh has fenced in the past. Her mom also knew her fencing coach before she was born.

Reitinger (right) with a teammate after receiving a medal. She’s been fencing with the D.C. Fencer’s club since she was eight. (Photo courtesy of Emmy Reitinger)

Fencing is not your typical American sport. She explained that in one match or “bout” of fencing, you will usually score about five points, or “touches,” when your sword comes in contact with your opponent. These points are recorded by a cord that is attached to your weapon, runs inside your jacket sleeve and out the back of your jacket, connecting to the ceiling. This cord attaches to a buzzer that goes off every time you score a point.

“Fencing is roughly about trying to make the person think you’re going to do something and then doing something else, like making them think you’re going to get point on their shoulder but you actually get it on their toe,” Reitinger added.

Being a nationally ranked fencer isn’t the only title that Emmy holds when it comes to sports. She is also an accomplished swimmer. To say she has a busy schedule would be an understatement. In addition to attending fencing practice three days a week- which is an hour away in Maryland- she also swims for Clark Swim Club and Mason’s swim team. You might think that the rigorous nature of fencing might prevent her from performing her best at swimming, and vice versa. However, Reitinger has found that fencing has actually helped her improve her swimming.

Reitinger after a bout with ice packs on her knees. Although it is hard to get seriously injured from fencing, knee pain, muscle soreness and bruises are not uncommon. (Photo courtesy of Emmy Reitinger)

“The discipline of it [has helped]; it’s a very individual sport, so it’s helping me compete by myself,” said Reitinger.

However, there are some hardships when it comes to fencing. With it being a contact sport, fencers are prone to injuries. Fencing can be hard on the knees, so Reitinger regularly has to wear knee braces and tape. It also puts a lot of strain on the muscles, so she has to use a foam roller regularly to keep her muscles loose. Bruises aren’t rare either.

“Sometimes people think I got in a fight, I have six or so bruises right now,” Reitinger said.

It takes more than pure talent to hold the title of a nationally ranked fencer; you need quick thinking, a confident attitude, and the endurance to keep practicing. Emmy Reitinger has all these things and more: she possesses the stamina needed to balance a high school workload with the hard work and time it takes to be a dedicated swimmer and fencer. It’s clear that Reitinger will be able to take on any challenge life throws at her, ready to attack it with her sword in hand.


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