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Seneca Valley gives OK to new fencing club

Seneca Valley DME

JACKSON TWP — The Seneca Valley School District can add one more sport to its long list of teams and clubs, which range from football to ice hockey to Ultimate Frisbee.

At their monthly action meeting on Monday night, Sept. 18, the Seneca Valley School Board unanimously approved fencing as a club sport. This will allow the fencing club to use the district’s logo and facilities.

Before the issue officially went to a vote, Daniel Cox, president of the newly formed club, spoke on its behalf. He said he was inspired to start the club thanks to his son, Ryan, a 10th-grader at Seneca Valley High School, who has taken up the sport for a year and a half.

Since January, Ryan has been part of the Tiger Fencing Club in Pittsburgh. The Cox family tried to find a fencing club closer to home, but were unsuccessful.

“Right before COVID, he had a desire to seek out and begin fencing, and we really weren't able to find anything outside of the school system north of Pittsburgh,” Cox said. “It was a bit of a haul to go on a Sunday afternoon to go fencing.”

That was when Daniel and Ryan got the ball rolling to start a new fencing club at Seneca Valley. As early as July, the proposed club started a Facebook page and began circulating flyers to gather interest.

On Aug. 12, the still-embryonic fencing club met at the Cranberry Public Library, signing up its first six competitors, with four parents signing on to take officer roles. According to the elder Cox, six more students have shown interest in participating in the program over the past week, which would far exceed the minimum number of four required to field a competitive team.

“It's really a one-on-one competition, so you really can have as little as four to make a competitive team,” said Seneca Valley athletic director Heather Lewis.

According to Tim Yultchiev, who is lined up to be the coach of the new club, fencing will be a coed sport at Seneca Valley. The club will compete with 10 other schools as part of the Pittsburgh Interscholastic Fencing Association, joining school districts such as Pine-Richland, Fox Chapel and North Allegheny.

Competitions take place January through May, with practice beginning this fall. Competitive fencing will be open to students in grades nine to 12 only, although the club will recruit students in grades seven and eight.

“It's a new sport here, so we’re trying to generate interest in younger grade levels so that they can learn the sport for a couple of years and then be ready to compete when they're in ninth grade,” Lewis said.

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