RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Basketball, track and field and lacrosse are all sports that Trinity’s Justin Dabney has taken part in. The junior, however, isn’t afraid to try new things, which is how he stumbled upon his newfound passion.
Dabney encountered a Groupon deal that offered a beginners class at Richmond Fencing Club. In November 2018 he gave it a shot, and it didn’t take long for him to get hooked.
“I came in not knowing much about it,” he recalled. “It’s totally different. I’ve never seen anything like it before.”
“I noticed how smart he was and how quickly he picked up with action,” added Richmond Fencing Club head coach Cyndi Lucente. “I knew that he was going to be a really good student.”
Fast forward a little over a year, and Dabney is finding his groove in the fencing world. Since starting out, he’s earned two ratings, which measure a fencer’s ability, similar to belt colors in Karate. He’s also developed a reputation for trying to make those around him better.
“He’s giving fencers a hard time that have been fencing for years and years and years,” observed Lucente. “He’s doing really well.”
“I’ve been fencing for a year and I still don’t understand all the rules,” Dabney laughed. “That’s a challenge.”
Justin brought some skill acquired through his other sports right off the bat. He said his footwork, endurance and leg strength were there already, but his favorite part of fencing has been learning the mental game.
“Fencing- nothing but thinking,” Dabney said. “For instance, you have to pretty much try to, in your mind, predict what your opponent’s going to do and set them up for failure, then take over and take advantage for that.”
Dabney is more than just a talented and skilled athlete. He’s also a straight A student and hopes to be a plastic surgeon. He’ll continue to fence for the time being, perhaps in college as well, and knows that the skills he’s sharpening now on the strip will translate to the game of life.
“It helps you overcome a situation that you know if you want to get this result you have to figure it out on your own. It’s not going to come any other way.”
Dabney won his first tournament this past fall and has competed in a Junior Olympic qualifier.
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