Carrollwood Day School senior using quarantine downtime to work on fencing skills

Sports

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A senior from Carrollwood Day School in Tampa is stuck at home like the rest of his classmates, but he is using his time wisely. He transformed his living room into a strip for fencing.

EJ James said a scene from the movie, “The Parent Trap” introduced him to the sport. Now, he is preparing to fence in college at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

“I was into movies that had swords and stuff like that,” James said.

He marveled at the characters in those movies and, suddenly, in middle school, he had a chance to do what they do.

“An intramural sport opened at my school. It was fencing and I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is what I want to do!’ So, I went and I started there.”

James has transformed into an accomplished fencer since middle school and he plans to take those talents to college.

“I am really blessed. I am really happy to be where I am at and this has given me so many opportunities,” James said.

He is optimistic about this particular opportunity. A zoom meeting, which occurs six days out of the week for hours at a time, allows him to practice in front of his coach, German Paz. Paz is the head coach at Naples Fencing Academy and he has nearly three decades of coaching experience in the sport.

“It is really really good. It is actually working surprisingly well,” said James in reference to the virtual practices. “He will tell you to go faster or slower or to move your feet.”

The moves are committed to memory and then, this game becomes a mental game.

James actually called it “physical chess” and, yes, he can play that game too.

“You can kind of break down everything that you know,” said James. “Assemble your own kind of strategy, use that against people and then if it doesn’t work, you can go back and run a diagnostic and go, ‘Alright, what did I do wrong? What did I do right?’”

Drew University is definitely right for EJ.

“I am really excited about that,” he said. “I already went up there to visit. The team is awesome. I love those guys. They are really, really cool. They are really accepting. The entire fencing community, even at the collegiate level, is really nice, just generally good people.”

He will make the move from Florida to New Jersey to start his freshman year at the end of the summer.

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