November 29, 2010

Fencing Team Looks to Captains for Guidance

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After opening the fencing season at Temple with outstanding performances all throughout the roster, Cornell looks strong behind the leadership of its captains. Under the guidance of the co-captains senior Analise Peleggi and sophomore Beverly Yang, the Red looks to improve upon last season’s results.

As captains, the two have led practices even before the season officially started. According to NCAA rules, the fencers are not allowed to practice with coaches during the preseason, so it is up to the captains to keep the fencers in good shape.

“We strengthen our conditioning and we use our time for drills,” Yang said. “We plan out the whole week.”

“We make sure everyone has the right work ethic and attitude,” Peleggi added. “We ease everybody into this.”

As the season picks up and the fencers practice drills with the coaches, the two captains step up by leading by example.

“We make it a rule to lead by example for other members on the team,” Yang said. “We make sure we’re the first ones out to start drills or start stretching.”

They also serve as the bridge between coaches and athletes. The captains often work closely with both and help deliver messages from the coaches, even for things that may not be related to fencing. In particular, the fencing team has been more active this year in the community by supporting local families for the holidays. Although last year the team did donate money to the cause in Haiti, the captains have pushed for even more activity for service.

“We work with the coach a lot in practice and we work with the team to check that things are running smoothly,” Peleggi said. “This year, we’ve been working on more fundraising events and have been trying to get more involved in community service.”

“Whenever Coach [Iryna Dolgikh] has news or events, we organize everything so that we make sure everyone can contribute,” Yang said. “We distribute the information.”

The fencers have also grown together as a unit to build team chemistry, sometimes through events planned by the captains.

“We stress good relations among the team,” Yang said. “We meet outside of fencing, too, for team dinners, and we get everyone to bond.”

The captains themselves have been pushed to work harder and to lead by example. There has been a difference in the mentality for the two fencers this season.

“[Being a captain] is a reminder of what I believe in — our team can be good if we work hard,” Yang said. “I can enforce these believes and set an example.”

“There is a little bit of pressure but in the best way,” Peleggi said. “I’m proud to be given the opportunity to help the team out. It is an honor to contribute more to it and it pushes me to lead by example by working hard and going on the right path.”

Particularly for Yang, being a captain has taken its toll this semester as academics has been creating conflicts for the fencer.

“It has been a bigger struggle this year,” Yang said. “Our coach stresses academics as more important, but I try to make it to practice as much as possible.”

The rest of the team has helped the captains by bringing a lot of enthusiasm and excitement to practice. The athletes have also stepped up as leaders to fill in any gaps.

“Every year, it changes as we graduate a ton of extraordinary fencers,” Peleggi said. “A lot of freshmen last year had to step it up in leadership this year. … The team gets its energy and inspiration from the younger members.”

The captains have been greatly influential on the team thus far, and remain grateful to the team for such an experience.

“I couldn’t wish for a better team and a better way to end senior year,” Peleggi said. “As hard as it can be being a student-athlete, it’s worth it.”

Original Author: Wankyu Lee