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Home News-Telegram Sports En Garde -- Local teenage strikes national level in fencing

En Garde -- Local teenage strikes national level in fencing

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Ashley-Marie Gregory competes in a rather unusual sport, especially for a girl.

“When I tell my friends that I compete in fencing, many think of an actual wooden fence,” said Gregory, a Sulphur Springs High School freshman, with a laugh. “I like to fence. It requires stamina with all the moving around, balance, and hand-eye coordination.”

Gregory has auto-qualified for the Youth 14 Women's Saber Division for the third year. This will be her first trip to the Summer Nationals to be held at the beginning of July at the Texan Gaylord Resort in Arlington.

“Something always seemed to come up when it was time for Nationals in years' past,” recalled Gregory, ranked first in the Texas Southwest Division and 22nd Nationally. She has qualified due to her previous achievements that have earned her the points needed for the Youth 14 classification.

Fencing is a family affair for Ashley-Marie Gregory's family. “I am my brother's shadow,” she admitted. “My brother (Andrew Gregory) and I had been in karate at the time when out-of-the-blue he decided to try fencing. It was back in 2005, I was about 10 years old.”

Recently, Andrew, a SSHS junior, added to his resume by receiving coaching certification from the Olympic center. He has extensive saber experience in tournaments along with coaching Ashley-Marie; he will also be competing at Summer Nationals.

Andrew is the only coach Ashley-Marie has had for fencing and said their coach/student athlete relationship doesn't seem to affect the sibling relationship at home, as tempting as the thought sounded. She said he expects more from her and pushes her to do her best.

The roots of fencing go back to ancient times. There is evidence in Egypt of sword fighting with protective masks and blunted sword points going back to at least 1,000 B.C. Greek and Roman civilizations taught their young men to use light swords and spears in 500 B.C. Fencing has also found roots in the Gregory family. In addition to running a family ranch/home in Sulphur Springs and employment at Pilgrim's Pride, parents Marvin and Cindy Gregory have been the proud owners of The Rockwall Fencing Academy since August of 2005.

“My parents have always promoted our love for fencing. My dad is one of my biggest fans. I can hear him cheering, 'go forward not backwards-Ashley'. They even fence some just for fun,” Ashley-Marie said. “So when the fencing school we were attending dissolved, my parents purchased it and have kept it alive.” It has proved successful boasting over 25 students with ages ranging from 6 years to over 80. They offer Beginning Fencer and Intermediate Fencer classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The monthly tuition is $75 per month with additional equipment fees (equipment is provided for free for the first 30 days). More information can be found at the Rockwall Fencing Academy website at: rockwallfencing.com.

Is fencing a dangerous sport? Well, it seems like a sport with the primary purpose is to wield a sword at another person for points might be, but Gregory disagreed. She said that the protective gear only allows for some minor bruising or possibly a cut to the hand but nothing major.

In fact her other hobby of breaking and training her own horses worries her parent more than fencing. Gregory does seem to have an apparent adventurous side. Last year she competed in the 100 and 300-meter hurdles on the school track team. This year she went with a less impact sport, lettering on the cross country team.

Her participation in fencing has included travels to various areas of Texas from Houston to Dallas. Lately, she has been competing more with the Senior Women's Division in saber. “I have many medals, ribbons, and trophies,” explained Gregory. “I usually finish in the top three in tournaments for my age group.” She and her brother are currently preparing for a FIT tournament on April 4 in Farmers Branch. She was undecided still on her future goals in fencing as far as working towards Olympic status. “I'm not sure if I could get or would want to get to that level,” Gregory said as she has a few years before reaching Olympic competition age. “In fact, I am kind of interested in boxing as well,” she said with thoughts on veering into another unusual sport.

 

NOTE: The Rockwall Fencing Academy Fencing Camp!


When: June 15th thru June 19th
Who: Fencers 8 to 16 years old
Price: $125.00 per student
(discounts for family members are available)

A Beginners session will be held from 8am-12pm and will present an introduction to the basics of fencing.
Fencers will further their knowledge of competition, refeering and more during the Advanced class from 1pm-4pm.


What is Fencing?

The sport of fencing is fast and athletic, a far cry from the choreographed bouts seen in film or on the stage. Instead of swinging from a chandelier or leaping from balconies, two fencers perform an intense dance on a six-feet-by-40-feet strip. The movement is so fast the touches are scored electrically.

http://www.rockwallfencing.com/

 

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