Isabelle Pinard heads to Junior Olympics

Liz Smith
Asst. Sports Editor

As the only girl at her fencing club, junior Isabelle Pinard practices with the guys — which may have made her qualification for the Junior Olympics next week that much easier.

“Girls are more quick, but I would say boys are tougher competition for me,” Pinard said. “Fencing with both, I get to develop both sides of the sport.”

Pinard uses this to her advantage when she goes up against girls in competition.

“Izzy loves fencing camps and fencing the guys, probably because they are tougher than the girls and faster — which is perfect for her because she always pushes herself,” her father Donald Pinard said.

Pinard receives and encouragement from her teammates on the school team as well in competition and training for the Junior Olympics which are scheduled for Feb. 18 to 22 in Dallas.

“I get a lot of support from teammates even if it’s just cheering during competitions and tips during practice,” Pinard said. “In fencing, it’s important to be positive because your mind can psyche you out and you can lose it, and that would be heartbreaking. [My teammates] help me get over that barrier and tell me I don’t have to win every single competition.”

Pinard helps her teammates, but they all learn from each other, according to teammate Eliza Klyce, who is an internationally-ranked fencer.

“You can always learn something —even if it is just a new perspective on something, it is helpful,” Klyce said. “She’s taught me not to be so hard on myself by shaking off my mistakes. She sets me straight. And not only is Izzy helpful to other fencers, but they can show her new things like that too.”

Fencing is primarily a mental sport that requires decision making that goes into each move,  according to junior Nicole Hvid.

“You have to be able to make snap decisions,” Hvid said. “But even if you can think on your feet, if you don’t have the strength to follow through you can’t win. Izzy’s strongest skill is definitely her agility, but also her quick thinking. The other competitors may be stronger, but if they can’t beat her speed, they will probably lose.”

Balancing school, a social life and the demands of fencing makes even finding time to eat hard to do, according to her mother Jocelyn Pinard.

“Fencing has definitely taken up a lot of Izzy’s social life,” Jocelyn Pinard said. “She has to manage her time as well as maintain a heavy appetite to keep her energy up.”

Pinard practices for two and a half hours, six days a week and credits her parents with helping her keep up.

“I get a lot of support from my dad,” Pinard said. “He played sports in high school and he knows what it’s like.”

Donald Pinard says Pinard does the sport for pure passion, rather than to add to a college application.

“Izzy thinks that an athlete must have determination and guts,” Donald Pinard said. “You will always see Izzy smiling. She honestly cannot stop smiling when she fences.”

The Broadview will be tweeting Isabelle Pinard’s progress in the Junior Olympics. Follow The Broadview on Twitter @thebroadview.