After finishing 4-5 on the first day of the Ivy League Championships held in Princeton, N.J., sophomore epee fencer Christie Robinson did not waver and came back optimistic for day two of competition. Her positive attitude gave her a 6-3 finish last Sunday, which led the epee squad and Cornell to a 2-1 finish. Even though the Red lost all three matches on Saturday, Cornell returned to win two matches against Yale and Brown to finish the second day, 2-4, one of its best performances in many years.
“I always stay in the right mood,” Robinson said. “The team always tries to cheer me on and because of that, I stay focused.”
The team did not have a lot to cheer about at the conclusion of the first day after facing its three toughest opponents in the Ivy League — Princeton, Harvard and Columbia. Although the Red was not expected to win against these teams, the losses were still draining to the fencers.
“Obviously we weren’t perfect,” said sophomore captain Beverly Yang. “We fell very hard against those three teams.”
However, just like Robinson’s turnaround, the Red was able to overpower opponents Yale and Brown before falling closely behind Penn — trailing the Quakers by only one point.
“Compared to ourselves and our history and hard work, we did great,” Yang said. “At the beginning of every match everything in the past is in the past and we start at 0-0. We learn from our mistakes and use it, but we don’t worry too much about losing.”
Robinson took Yang’s advice to heart and finished with better results than she expected, as did the entire team who finished with better results than in previous years.
“The team was pretty spirited,” Robinson said.
Robinson began her fencing career with a positive outlook during her freshman year in high school — a start considered late compared to other professional fencers. After trying various other sports and searching for the perfect fit with the help of her mother, Robinson discovered fencing and it wasn’t long before she was performing at a professional level.
“I tried a lot of sports and nothing stuck,” Robinson said. “My mom then sent me to high school courses on fencing.”
That modest beginning set up a great career with Robinson winning two district championships in a row in 2008 and 2009. As a member of the Modeo Fencing Club, Robinson was a Top-16 fencer in 2009 in the Division IA Summer Nationals. She also finished second in the 2008 Division II North America Cup. Robinson took this list of accomplishments to Cornell, where she improved further and became a leader of her epee squad as a starter as a sophomore.
“The program here [at Cornell] is very rigorous and has helped me improve a lot,” Robinson said. “They emphasize getting better on your own while also getting better on a group level.”
As part of the squad, Robinson leads her teammates not only as a fencer, but also as a great motivator for the team’s spirit and energy. Her passion for the sport and for her team continues to drive her as a fencer, which can be seen in her actions both on and off the floor.
Robinson is always among the first to congratulate and hug her teammates after matches.
“Every fencer on the team contributes something, even if it’s just the spirit from the non-fencers,” Robinson said. “Each fencer really matters and it is important to cheer everyone and not just the individual.”
Yang and Robinson, who have known each other since sophomore year high school, have fenced together in New Jersey on the same club team. Even after so much time with Robinson, Yang still cannot say enough about Robinson’s enthusiasm and drive.
“[Robinson] is very optimistic and is like a ball of energy,” Yang said. “She is never down and is always ready for the next match.”
As one of the starting fencers, she leads silently by example. Robinson is not the loudest on the team, but she certainly commands a lot of respect.
“She is a leader to everyone,” Yang said. “Everyone looks up to her. She is someone who is a role model.”