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U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

Through classes, art teachers aim to grow art appreciation

Dual Commitment: Tate Nguyen brings passion to both school and club teams

Miles Wilczak
For Tate, fencing is more than just a physical activity. He said the sport involves a lot of mental perseverance, making it rewarding.

Mondays and Wednesdays, it’s U-High fencing. Every other day except for Sunday, it’s club fencing. But even on Sunday, it’s the weight room. 

After school every day this year, junior Tate Nguyen can be seen going to Lab’s gymnasium building for practice, to his house, and shortly after, downtown for more training, all while carrying an oversized, full bag. He’s going to fencing practice, a hobby that takes up almost all of his free time. 

“I’m always carrying this fencing bag,” Tate said. “I think it’s pretty indicative of my love for this sport.”

Fencing has allowed Tate to form a community with other Lab students and the broader Chicago community, and this serves as an avenue for him to constantly challenge himself and improve his mental state.  

He began fencing when he was 7 years old and has since received many accolades. He has been on the High School All-American First Team two times and is 69th in the country for junior fencers. Most recently, Tate qualified for the USA Cadet Epée Team.

Tate fences épée, one of the three disciplines of modern fencing. He has participated in club fencing all his career but decided to join U-High’s fencing team this year. He said he joined Lab’s team because he wanted to be a part of a community at school. 

“I have been doing a lot of stuff outside of school,” Tate said, “but I think it’s time I do stuff in the community where I live and get my education.” 

For Tate, fencing is more than just a physical activity. He said the sport involves a lot of mental perseverance, making it rewarding. 

“The most rewarding experience is losing because it makes you grow as a person,” he said. “Strangely, more than winning. It makes you reflect on your mistakes and areas of improvement. On top of that, it’s 50% physical and 50% mental because you must also have mental capabilities to stay calm under pressure.”

Although Tate has faced challenges balancing his fencing and academic careers, he said he’s continuously drawn to the sport because he loves the nature of it.

You’re in a team, but at the end of the day, it’s an individual sport,” he said. “There’s that team aspect, but it’s all up to you.”

But more than anything, Tate values the community and relationships fencing has created. In particular, he said he has formed close bonds with the people at the club he fences at year-round, Windy City Fencing.

“My club coach, Tsanko, is literally my second dad,” Tate said. “He’s seen me grow up and has seen and will see me at every stage of my life. He’s given me a different outlook on life and is such a big inspiration. It’s nice to see how other people, especially him, view the world.”

Tsanko Hantov, a Windy City Fencing owner, said Tate is extremely dedicated to the sport. 

Mr. Hantov said, “He has been showing consistency since he started.”

Tate said fencing has become a large part of his identity, so bonding with others who also fence is inevitable. 

Junior Ben O’Donnell, who fences at Windy City Fencing and is a member of U-High’s team with Tate, said he feels similarly.

“We see each other a lot more because of fencing, and there are more chances to talk, and it’s a huge topic we can connect about,” Ben said. 

Outside of fencing, Tate has found an interest in fashion. 

“Clothes can be expensive, so I like to save money to buy pieces,” he said. “I love seeing how different pieces can come together. I feel like clothes are like a canvas.”

Tate said he plans to continue to fence in college, though he does not see himself pursuing it afterward. 

And while Tate’s fencing bag is heavy and the sport requires large amounts of dedication, it’s all worth it for him because of the experiences and people the sport has generated. 

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About the Contributors
Audrey Park, Editor-in-Chief
Audrey Park is a member of the Class of 2024 and serves as an editor-in-chief. She began writing for the Midway in the 2020-21 school year when she was in ninth grade. Her favorite story she has written is about University of Chicago nurses seeking solutions for the uninsured. She loves journalism because of its ability to represent and reflect multiple perspectives. Audrey also enjoys reading, traveling and playing card games. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, San Francisco convention: Honorable mention, online package 2023 Scholastic Press Association of Chicago, news story: excellent 2022 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, St. Louis convention: Honorable mention, editorial writing 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Gold Circle Award: First place, sidebar writing, “Misinformation solutions rely on regulation, media literacy”
Miles Wilczak, Photographer
Miles Wilczak is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2026. His favorite part of photojournalism is the creative freedom. Outside of class, Miles likes to go to concerts, watch movies and hang out with friends.

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