Grace Lozier is 5-foot-5 and fearless.
She almost has to be. On a weekly basis, she’s facing adversity in the form of competitors who are coming toward her with a nearly three-foot epee (bladed weapon).
“I wouldn’t be who I am today without fencing,” says Grace, a sophomore at Providence Day. “Fencing has given me discipline and has taught me how to really work for something that I want. It takes years of hours of practice and consistency."
Grace found the sport as a third-grade student at Providence Day during an Extended Day fencing camp. She’s been pursuing the sport seriously since and will compete against the best in the country in the 2024 Junior Olympics from February 16-19 at the Charlotte Convention Center.
“I love fencing because it’s a really cool experience, and it’s always exciting and different every bout,” she says. “It has connected me with so many new people from all over the world, and it has really changed me as a person.”
Her fencing schedule has been the biggest adjustment: she practices five times a week, along with two to three private lessons with her coach on the side. She doesn’t typically get home from practice until 9:00 p.m.; then, she has to do homework.
“It can definitely be difficult, but it’s worth it to me because I love the sport,” Grace says. “On the weekends, I practice in the morning, and on my days off, I try to stay active by going to the gym to train.”
Amanda, her mom, says they immediately began noticing the benefits when Grace started fencing and competing.
“She has worked very hard over the past two years, traveling year-round, across the country, to compete for USA fencing,” Amanda says. “She has spent the past two summers training in [Washington, D.C.] and in Boston with the Harvard coaches. She has learned so much about how to deal with adversity and is developing self-confidence. Fencing requires tremendous self-discipline and fearlessness.”
Her daughter, Amanda says, often faces opponents who are much older and more experienced. She’s also started competing against athletes from top colleges in the country.
“She is learning how to deal with the pressure of performing at the national level and dreams of maybe one day competing internationally for Team USA,” Amanda says. “Ultimately, she hopes to fence in college.”
Most of her tournaments are out of state, which means 5 a.m. wakeup calls and spans of several 12-hour days. She competed in the national championships in Phoenix last summer, and she’s qualified to compete in championships this summer in Columbus, Ohio.
She found out she qualified for the Junior Olympics, a goal she’s been working toward, in late October. She’ll be competing in the women’s Cadet division, with 270 competitors.
The only pre-match ritual she needs is a pep talk from her coaches at Triple Threat Fencing Academy in Monroe because it helps her “get in the zone.” Her coach, Oleksii Ivanov, is a national fencing coach of Ukraine and an international referee.
“I’m super eager to compete,” Grace says. “I’m reminding myself of how hard I worked to get here, and it gives me a lot of motivation to do my best.”