Fencing is a sport that is competed in across the world, and Penn State makes sure to tap every resource for new talent.
These fencers from other countries are interested in Penn State for its academics, but the fact that the fencing team has won 15 national titles helps a little bit with recruiting, as well.
In total, there are seven international fencers on this year’s roster and it’s no coincidence that they are some of the top fencers on the team. Senior Margherita Guzzi Vincenti, from Italy, won the national title in epee her freshman year at Penn State, and senior Daniel Gomez-Tanamachi fenced for Mexico in the Olympics this past summer.
Coach Emmanuil Kaidanov knows that Penn State fencing does not necessarily need international students to win, but he knows that having them definitely makes the team stronger.
“We had several championships where we won without them, but usually the foreign athletes kind of lead us in their respective weapons,” said the head coach. “They definitely help to create good atmosphere of competitiveness and camaraderie.”
Many of these fencers who come from different countries first hear about Penn State while competing in international competitions when they are in high school.
Kaidanov said that it is really the academic opportunities offered at the school that helps make Penn State stand out to these foreign athletes.
“I can succeed in school and learn more techniques and improve my fencing as well,” said Vincenti.
Freshman Shaul Gordon, who is from Canada, said that visiting the school and seeing the academic program sealed the deal for him.
“I saw all the facilities and all the resources that [the] program at the school provided to international students,” said Gordon. “That was just the cherry on top.”
Going to college can be an intimidating experience for anyone, especially when a person is coming from a different country. However, the international students said that being apart of the fencing program really helped to ease their transition.
“I’m part of the team so when I came here I knew that I was going to be welcomed,” said Clarissa Luminet. “You have friends for sure.”
Luminet, who is from France, is only a freshman but has already shown promise in this early season.
The foil fencer said her favorite part about Penn State is all the pride that students have for the school, which she said is not that common for French universities.
Vincenti said that Penn State is the first team she has been on where teammates are always striving to make each other better.
This support from their teammates and pride for universities helps make it so that Penn State becomes a second home for these international athletes.
“Penn State for me is like a family,” said Guzzi. “All of my teammates are amazing and especially the parents they always come to our competitions…it’s great because we’re never alone and we cheer for each other.”