By MAGGIE SPITZER
For The News-Letter
On Nov. 25, the Hopkins women’s fencing team competed against some of the nation’s best in the Elite Invitational at Pennsylvania State University. Although the Lady Jays ended up losing their five contests, history was made.
Senior Isabella (Bea) So recorded her 150th and 151st career sabre wins and advanced to fourth in the history of all female Hopkins fencers. The News-Letter sat down with So to discuss her achievements and aspirations for her final season as a Lady Jay.
The News-Letter: Your wins last week place you at fourth in school history for the most career sabre wins. How does it feel to have earned that honor?
Isabella So: It’s funny because last weekend was the hardest meet I’ve ever attended. UPenn, Northwestern, Temple, Princeton… we were up against all D-I teams, so it felt like that 150th win was one of my hardest-earned wins ever. Actually, the win right after that, the 151th, was such a huge win for me that while doing my victory cheer I jumped, lost my balance and fell on the back of my head (in front of the Princeton, Columbia, and UNC teams).
N-L: As the sabre team co-captain, how do you motivate your teammates to improve and succeed?
IS: I like to stay energetic and vocal. I lose my voice almost every team tournament when cheering for the girls but it’s great because the energy is typically reciprocated. It’s really important to communicate about every bout and every move. Even though fencing is an individual sport, the whole squad is watching every bout and ready to give feedback whether win or lose.
N-L: How has your role on the fencing team developed over your four years?
IS: Freshman year I was only an alternate for most of the year, so I didn’t get many bouts in. I didn’t have any expectations for myself at the start but I’m really happy about how I’ve grown as a fencer. I went from getting in a few touches at the tournaments if I was lucky to being a solid starter, so that’s great.
N-L: What are your strengths and weaknesses as a fencer? How have you worked to capitalize on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses?
IS: I’m pretty fast, I think… and I capitalize on that by being fast… But on the other hand, I’m also impulsive and forgetful, so I’ve worked on staying focused and utilizing game plans that my coaches have built with me.
N-L: What are you going to miss most about fencing for Hopkins?
IS: Back in high school I was one of four girls fencing for my club. I’m going to miss have a real 25-person women’s team and touring the East Coast schools with them. I’m going to miss alumnae meets and workout circuits (maybe). I’m going to miss carbo-loading pasta nights and piercingly-loud bonsais.
N-L: What goals do you have personally and for your squad during your senior year? What legacy do you hope to leave?
IS: My co-captain and I have made a point to record our squad’s bouts at tournaments and practices, and I hope it makes us more self-aware of the actions we make. Sabre bouts are so fast! They can be as fast as 20 seconds long, so it’s important to slow things down and watch things one step at a time and learn from that. I hope I leave a legacy of fostering team spirit, whether it be screaming “women’s team!” every time the guys do something dumb or making sure the foil and epee squads are constantly aware that the sabre squad is hottest on the strip (#squadgoals).
Coming off her recent accomplishment and a quick rest over Thanksgiving Break, So and her fellow Lady Jays will return this Sunday, Dec. 6 to compete at the annual Brandeis Invitational.