Real Talent: Alex Stadnyk Draws the Line on Fencing for Stanford

Sam Chambers
From club to varsity, good fences make good neighbors for Alex Stadnyk, SJS '2009, and Stanford foils.

Head Stanford Fencing Coach Lisa Milgram had this to say about Alex.

"He walked onto the team this year and has been on our traveling team ever since.  He is a strong fencer and fits the team well.
He qualified for post season competition at the first round of the NCAAs this year. He did not qualify for the final round but fenced strong at the regionals.
He is a great addition to the team and we are happy to have him."

Alex shares his thoughts on the collegiate athletic experience as Stanford heads to the National tournament this weekend.

What was the process of walking on and making the Stanford Varsity Fencing team.

At the beginning of my first year at Stanford, I decided to force myself to take a one-year break from fencing in order to focus on academics and all the other semi-frightening aspects of freshman year. I lasted six weeks – maybe two months, tops – before I started looking around for opportunities to fence. I met with the fencing coaches, and we decided that I would join the varsity team immediately after winter break. In the meantime, I would fence nights at the Cardinal Fencing Club, which is a fencing club affiliated with the university but entirely separate from the varsity team. The club atmosphere was excellent: because the club is not restricted to the same NCAA rules as the varsity team, it is open to all fencers, regardless of age or university affiliation. I was able to fence in a relaxed environment and meet many fellow fencers from the surrounding area, including several who were also on the varsity team. In many ways it reminded me of Salle Mauro, my fencing club in Houston, which only served to ease the transition to fencing in a collegiate environment. I received my official NCAA certification just days before my first tournament, and qualified for Western Regionals through my performance there. In the end, everything worked out wonderfully. Aside from the ever-daunting prospect of morning practices, that is.


What is your training regiment for fencing?

For non-collegiate fencers, the regular season lasts roughly from August to early July, which is the permanent date set for Summer Nationals. The college season begins the first day of school and culminates with the NCAA championships just after spring break. As for extra training this past summer, I actually didn’t change anything. For several weeks in June, I attended my club’s 7-hour summer camps after continuing my regular fencing routine during the school year. That being said, fencing has slowly been taking over my life for four and a half years, and I mean that in the best possible way. The more I fence, the more I love the sport – and the more I am willing to put in the extra hours. Which brings me to my next point. In short, there are primarily two reasons I am here right now. First of all, I had wonderful coaches who were – and still are – always willing to work with me on anything and everything, and I cannot thank them enough. Fencing is both a physical and mental game; between Coach Mauro Hamza, who had been recently appointed men’s foil coach for the U.S. National Team, and Coach Dan Gorman, I had excellent instruction in both aspects. The second reason is hard work and discipline. I know it sounds terribly clichéd, but it’s true: there really isn’t any substitute for hard work.

What has been a highlight for you so far?


So far the highlight of this season was my first NCAA tournament, which was held at Northwestern University. The two-day tournament was an exciting chance to put into practice everything I have learned over the last four and a half years.