This month, Rampage is highlighting two captains of the girl’s fencing team at Ramapo. This past winter, seniors Mariam Tinawi and Meiliu Merchant made quite the impact on the Ramapo fencing team. Mariam fences epee while Meiliu is a sabre fencer. For those of you who don’t know what fencing is, Meiliu has found it easiest to describe it as “‘sword fighting,’ like in the movies. Or ‘knights in shining armor.’ It tends to spark people’s interest the most, and then they learn it’s much more modern and proper than as shown in the media.” Mariam brings up the point that “What people don’t know is that fencing is very mind intensive, it’s about assuming your opponent’s actions and reacting on time and correctly.” Both Meiliu and Mariam had little – to – no prior experience fencing when they decided to join the team during their freshman year. Since then, they have both completed four years on varsity.
When asked who they owe their success to, both Meiliu and Mariam were quick to mention their guide and mentor, Coach Cummings. Meiliu says, “I definitely wouldn’t be the fencer I am today without his constant wisdom and support through the years”, and Mariam remembers the countless private lessons she received from him stating, “I wouldn’t be where I am without his teaching and encouragement to push myself.”
Mariam and Meiliu’s teammates push them on the strip during every competition. “Sometimes it’s very nerve wracking to go up on the fencing strip by yourself to compete, but hearing your team’s cheers for you is enough encouragement to go out there and win” Mariam says. While you do fence alone at a competition, all the wins are totaled together, and the whole team must do well in order to win. Meiliu describes fencing as “the perfect mix of team and individual play.” Through the constant support of their teammates, the epee squad and sabre squad made it to the state championships this year! This is the third time Meiliu’s squad had qualified (they qualified during 2017, 2018, and 2019) and the first time in Mariam’s high school career her squad had qualified. Meiliu has even qualified as an individual to the state championships during 2018 and 2019 brining her total wins to 179.
Meiliu, class of NYU 2023, and Mariam, still undecided, hope to continue fencing in college next year. Mariam reminds her teammates that she “will be there for them beyond high school if they ever need to talk about fencing or life in general. We have a strong bond and graduating won’t change that.” Meiliu and Mariam were amazing assets to the team, not just as captains, but as friends. We will miss them very much.
By: Eden Osiason, Assistant Editor
Featured Image: Meiliu Merchant (right)fencing. (Photo courtesy of Corinna Collins)