By: Josh Chait & Anusha Bapat
Parashar, who “always knows how to make the team laugh,” takes a fighting stance as she prepares to duel a teammate. Photo credit: lorsstudio.com
Senior Ananya Parashar captains the girl’s saber squad; a renowned veteran fencer, she was the recipient of the sportsmanship award in her sophomore year.
Despite her evident affinity for the sport, Parashar actually developed her strong interest in fencing through literature. Parashar’s obsession with the Percy Jackson series during seventh grade served as her inspiration to fence. “In the books, Percy Jackson had his own sword called Riptide, and he would always use it to defeat the monsters. I just always found that really interesting,” said Parashar. Her fascination with the books soon transformed into a passion for the swordsmanship of fencing.
Upon joining the fencing team, Parashar selected the saber as her primary weapon. “I [liked] the fast-pace nature of the saber when I watched other people fence. For other weapons, you have to pause a little more and it takes a lot more time,” said Parashar, adding that she appreciates the aggressiveness of the saber and the swiftness of its movements. Parashar enjoys the mental challenge of fencing, explaining that “[fencing is] about what your opponent is going to do and how you’re going to control the bout.” She has learned to always think before acting and to be ready for her opponents’ moves.
Although fencing is typically considered an individual sport, the support that Parashar’s teammates provide when she is on the strip, and the support that she offers them in return, has fostered a friendly and collaborative atmosphere. “She fuels the girls team with positive vibes and she always knows how to make the team laugh,” said teammate Senior Dennis Lin. Parashar relishes the moments of camaraderie on the team, especially when her teammates cheer her on during bouts.
One of Parashar’s main inspirations is her old captain, Sofia Zhuang, who taught her to take the matches “touch by touch” or “point by point,” a line Parashar continues to recite prior to every match to boost her confidence and motivate her to succeed. Zhuang was but one of many people on the North fencing team who supported Parashar, as the team was full of excitement, support, and guidance.
Despite Parashar’s abundant skill, she has faced obstacles along the way. Parashar says that “scheduling outside of school with a hefty high school schedule is hard for me to balance.” Despite the challenge, she has learned to balance her passion for fencing with her academics, which, given her admission to Princeton University, are important to her. She also participates in a number of other activities in school, such as future problem solving, community problem solving, and mixed martial arts outside of school.
Parashar, through her six years of fencing, has learned much from the sport, including that “not everything is about winning and losing. It’s about what you learn from each bout.” At Princeton, she plans to continue fencing just as a recreational activity but she will have left a prominent imprint and legacy for the North fencing team.