February 2, 2011

Hirschfeld Leads Fencers, Emphasizing Teamwork

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The fencing team has been performing very well recently especially with strong performances from the foil squad. In the last two tournaments Cornell attended, the foil squad went a combined 82-26. There have been outstanding results from all the foil fencers, but junior Rebecca Hirschfeld led the way with a dominating 15-3 record at the Philadelphia Invitational to lead the team.

The success Hirschfeld has had recently can be attributed to a combination of factors. Primarily, training time and hard work translated into results and victories. Hirschfeld’s work ethic has had a tremendous influence on the entire team to a certain extent.

“She’s really meticulous in practice and competition,” said senior captain and foil fencer Analise Peleggi. “She works very hard to improve herself. It’s very exciting to have someone like her on the team.”

Despite all the physical training Hirschfeld does, she attributes her performance to the benefits of being on a team. Hirschfeld adds that competing on a team has helped her grow as a fencer and has helped the team to perform better as well.

“The sense of team spirit that we have has really helped me individually in my mental game,” Hirschfeld said. “It always feels better for me to be representing Cornell and the team rather than just representing myself.”

“She’s a team player,” Peleggi said. “The team has built up the intensity lately and she’s been a part of that.”

The concept of “team” was not always a big factor in Hirschfeld’s fencing career. Unlike in most other high school sports, the team did not always come first in Hirschfeld’s mind — her individual competition was a bigger focus. As a result, coming into a team setting in college helped change her view of fencing and allowed her to become even stronger in the sport.

“I was on my high school team, but that was a side note to my competing individually at national or international competitions throughout high school,” Hirschfeld said. “I think it suits my personality and my fencing better knowing that I’m not out there by myself.”

Hirschfeld started fencing at a very young age. Her involvement was mostly attributed to her surrounding environment as many of her family members participated in fencing either competitively or recreationally. Hirschfeld’s father fenced for Yale and two of her uncles fenced for Harvard and one other uncle fenced for Trinity. Hirschfeld inherited this fencing blood and the constant exposure to the sport from her family helped her smoothly take up this sport for ten years.

“It helped me start without thinking it was a rare or weird sport like some people that I have met in my life think. It was sort of an everyday sport for me, and it was nice that almost my entire family and extended family had had some contact with it,” Hirschfeld said.

Even though she started fencing at such a young age and committed a lot of time to the sport, Hirschfeld still has had time to try other things. She spent some time playing lacrosse and volleyball at the middle school and high school level. However, when the time commitment got too intense, her main focus remained fencing.

“I loved volleyball, but I was better at fencing and had been doing it for longer,” Hirschfeld said.

Hirschfeld has also been able to translate some of her other talents to fencing. Because of her large interest in language and culture, she communicates well with the coaches. She also is a great leader on the team and sets the tone for the foil squad.

“She’s been great because she starts the round and takes the first position,” Peleggi said.

Hirschfeld symbolizes many of the things that not only the team has been going through lately, but also the Cornell varsity program. Her commitment to her team and the school keeps her growing both as a fencer and as an individual.

“I see what these athletes and great people are like and I try my best to be like them and to not let them or my university down,” Hirschfeld said.

Original Author: Wankyu Lee