Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern


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Q & A with Sarah Gravlee (Women’s Fencing)

By Daily Sports’ Brian Regan

Q: How did you get into fencing?

A:In high school I played basketball and volleyball pretty competitively, but junior year I started to take some AP (classes) and didn’t have time to be on the varsity teams. It was nice to be on something that didn’t take up too much time, but that quickly changed when I started to spend 30 to 40 hours a week fencing with travel.

Q: How long have you been fencing?

A: I started my sophomore year in high school, but didn’t get competitive until my junior year, so six or seven years.

Q: What made you choose your weapon?

A: I do epee, which is full-body target without priority, unlike foil or sabre where scoring is based on who has priority. I picked up my first epee at a local tournament and ended up winning. It was beginner’s luck, but I liked the weapon.

Q: What makes a good fencer?

A: Being mentally strong helps. A lot of fencing tournaments have a lot of downtime, followed quick bursts of competing. It is important to be physically and mentally ready at a moment’s notice. It is also a momentum sport – it is easy to feel good about yourself when you are getting a lot of touches, as well as being able to focus when you aren’t.

Q: Do your plans after college involve fencing?

A: I would like to do it recreationally. I’ve earned my ‘B,’ whereas Olympians are ‘A,’ which means I will be able to go to national tournaments. Fencing is also a very social sport.

Q: Speaking of Olympics, you carried the Olympic torch (in 2002 before the Salt Lake City Games). What was that like?

A: It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I ended up carrying it for two legs because the lady before me couldn’t make it all the way through, but it gets your adrenaline flowing. It was dark, but there were lots of people cheering and yelling. It was as close to being a professional athlete as I could ever be.

Q: Do you have any interest in watching sword-fighting movies?

A: I didn’t until I became a fencer, but now it’s fun because they are so inaccurate. Fencing is very linear, but they are all over the room, which makes for better cinematography, but I appreciate the art form. When they were in the rafters in the blacksmith’s shop in “Pirates of the Caribbean,” that was real fencing.

Q: Favorite class at NU?

A: Social Inequality: Race, Class and Power. The class made me look at the world differently, instead of a kind of Republican point of view of, “They need to work it out for themselves.”

Q: What was your academic experience at NU?

A: My sophomore year I got a concussion on the first day of classes Winter Quarter. I had trouble remembering things and still have a week of total memory loss.

Q: Marry, Kill, Hook-up: (Zorro, Luke Skywalker, Jack Sparrow)

A: I’d kill Zorro because he’s old, marry Luke Skywalker because he is a romantic and Johnny Depp might be good in bed.

Reach Brian Regan at [email protected].

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Q & A with Sarah Gravlee (Women’s Fencing)