By Charles Elmo
When she thought she needed to play a sport at Clarkstown North High School in order to graduate, Gabriel Watson joined her high school fencing team.
“I was one of the few people in my school that didn’t play a sport,” Watson said. “I thought I needed it to graduate so I joined fencing. It turns out I am pretty good.”
A sophomore here at Fairleigh Dickinson University, Gabriel Watson describes herself as a fun, energetic person who is very social and approachable. Born in New City, New York, Watson enjoys reading and exercising in her spare time.
Although she realized she had the potential to be very good, Watson said that her first try fencing was very difficult. But once she won her first bout, she was hooked.
“I lost my mind,” Watson said. “I was completely into it from that point on. It was an awesome moment.”
Her high school experience led her to joining the Fairleigh Dickinson University women’s fencing team as an Epee. Watson credits the university for finding her and bringing her in on a scholarship. At that point in time, the team was losing by default because they had just one Epee on the team. FDU wanted her, and she wanted FDU.
“I was getting the opportunity to be the one to tip the scale for them,” Watson said. “I was star struck that I could keep doing this.”
Watson appreciates the art of the game and the little things about the sport. The feeling of having a blade in her hand, making contact with another human being, and being allowed to legally hit someone with a sword.
Although Watson’s passion for fencing is clearly evident, she said that her major goal in fencing is to just have fun and enjoy her time at FDU as a fencer. However, it hasn’t been all fun this season for Watson as she has sat out due to medical issues. She is medically red-shirted, but will be given a fifth year of eligibility. It hasn’t been easy for her.
“I have gone through so many stages of loss not being able to fence,” Watson said. “I want to get back into as soon as possible. It has been very hard to just sit back and watch.”
Watson credits her teammates for helping her get through this tough time. Watson detailed a struggle in overall team bonding, but that hasn’t stopped her teammates from being there for her.
“We just have to start understanding each other better,” she said. “Other than that, we are a pretty cohesive group. Individually, we need to stop beating up on ourselves to take that next step.”
Watson believes as a team, they’re still working on dealing with failure. She expressed playing a sport that feels overlooked isn’t always easy. With three new people coming in, new people brings new issues.
“Fencing isn’t really on most people’s radar,” Watson said. “We are a small team that doesn’t have 15-20 people on it. Competitions are away from the school most of the time so it is hard to keep up. I understand it.”
Their matches are an all-day affair from the early morning, not finishing up until the evening. Watson said that it is a grind and can be physically and mentally draining. Keeping team morale up to reach a second gear and finish strong is always a challenge, she said.
“I like to help my teammates as much as possible,” Watson said. “It is important for me to relay messages and be there for them as a team player.”
Watson sees fencing as a hobby. Her ultimate goal is to create animation for movies through working in a TV studio behind the camera and in the control room. “I wanted to take a different path in animation,” Watson said. “Possibly making games or short films that fly under the radar.”
By a member of the COMM 3432 Sports Journalism class.