Bringing fantasy to real life 

It was the mythological that brought Jonathan Spivack to fencing, but his ability to handle the practical mental and physical challenges of the sport that have kept an epee in his hand.

As a sixth-grader, Spivack’s childhood interest in knights inspired him to pick up a sport that conjures up images of jousts and King Arthur. Now, as a senior at University High School, he is still adding to his own legacy that began when he started the Red Devils’ fencing team two years ago and continued when he won this year’s San Francisco Section individual title. University has yet to lose in its two years in the Academic Athletic Association and Spivack has served as the driving force to its success.

"I first tried fencing because I liked the romantic image of it I guess," Spivack said. "And now I love the athleticism and mental sharpness you need to do well."

His final high school meet is set for Saturday at 9 a.m., when Lowell hosts an invitational that will feature the top prep fencers in The City along with competitors from The Harker School of San Jose and Palo Alto High. And while he will likely be the favorite heading into the meet, Spivack admits he wasn’t always the polished fencer he is today.

"It definitely took some time," Spivack said. "I was pretty uncoordinated [when I started] and this sport requires a huge amount of that. But I kept working hard and practicing and wound up getting better and really liking it."

Peter Burchard coaches Spivack both at University and the Halberstadt Fencing Club and has been impressed by his leadership and dedication. Spivack organizes difficult stair-running training sessions at University and has patiently helped tutor newcomers learning the ropes in an extremely technical sport.

His passion for fencing even inspired his father, Robert, to pick up the sport a few years ago in his 50s.

"He’s been a leader his whole way through the school and just has great strength, endurance and dedication," Burchard said. "At this point, he’s the model."

After Saturday’s meet, Spivack will turn his attention to deciding between his top two college choices — Stanford and Brown. The sterling academic reputations of the schools is not a surprise, considering Spivack missed last year’s San Francisco Section finals to compete in a chemistry competition. But fencing will also factor into his choice and Burchard thinks he has the potential to develop into an excellent performer at the college level.

"He has such an enthusiasm for the sport," Burchard said. "Wherever he goes, I think he’ll do extremely well."

melliser@examiner.com

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