By Briana Oldham
Before she was a Viking, freshman Abigail Barr was an honoree for the Spirit of Sport Recognition Program. Barr was one of only six members in the United States to receive this honor from USA Fencing.
Though she is a first year student, she has already accomplished a huge feat—having received this award alongside fencing head coach Andy Tulleners.
“I think what I was most excited about when learning I had been chosen was sharing that same honor [with] Andy,” Barr said. “Knowing he’s received the same recognition gives me the confidence that he is just as passionate about the sport as I am and can spread that to the rest of the team.”
Barr is originally from Bellingham, Washington, and became interested in fencing at the age of 10. What led her to the sport specifically was the desire to get involved in an activity that would fit into her mothers work schedule.
USA Fencing chooses the recipients by observing their level of commitment to the sport of fencing and to their club, in addition to the sportsmanship, leadership, teamwork and the character that nominee exhibits.
Enthusiasm unwavering, she was once the sole competitive fencer in her club. In addition to the multitude of medals she has acquired from regional competitions, the fond memories are what stick out the most for Barr.
Barr certainly embodies poise and a fervent eagerness to fence. Coupled with the USA Fencing criteria, it was Barr’s positivity and dedication that made her a stand out.
Although there is an air of seriousness associated with the sport, she offers a story that serves as a gentle reminder not to take anything too seriously.
Her favorite fencing match to date was a direct elimination at a North American Cup where her shoe slipped off during a counterattack. Barr went on to conclude the story by saying, “If my opponent had hit my shoe, would it have been a valid touch?” She remembers the question being met with laughter by both the referee and her coach.
Just a few years ago, due to changes in her own club, Barr began commuting a whopping 160 miles round trip for lessons and open fencing.
The admiration many have for her never giving up and making sure she continued to have fun in the sport is one of the reasons people look to her for encouragement and advice.
Barr had advice for newcomers with little or no experience.
“It’s never too late to start. Competition ages are from 8 to 80 years old,” Barr said.
The fencing team began their season on Sept. 1, with the Cleveland State Fall Open.