Twin sisters find their sport in competitive fencing

Nine-year-old twin sisters Andrea and Cassandra Dilibero began fencing two years ago after their parents, John and Line, looked for a sport they would enjoy.

They signed the girls up for lessons with the Fencing Academy of Nevada at the Las Vegas Sports Park.

“Dad used to play indoor soccer at the sports park,” Andrea says. “We had tried different sports and we never liked them.”

Fencing was different, though, and the sisters have excelled. They both earned medals in their first national event at the United States Fencing Association Summer National Championships in Miami last summer.

At the event, Cassandra placed third in youth 10 women’s epee and Andrea placed sixth. (Medals are awarded to the top eight finishers.) Cassandra also finished 12th in youth 10 women’s foil and Andrea was 28th.

Cassandra and Andrea competed in the Dawson Challenge Youth competition at the Alexander Dawson School in September. Cassandra and Andrea placed first and second, respectively, in the youth 10 mixed foil event and second and third, respectively, in the youth 10 mixed epee event.

In foil, fencers can hit only the torso for a touch, which is when the sword makes contact for a scoring point; whereas in epee, fencers are allowed to hit the whole body for a touch.

“I like a challenge,” says Andrea, who is coached by four-time Olympic team coach Yves Auriol. “Fencing is a challenge. You have to guard the torso and the whole upper body.”

Andrea says Auriol has taught her to “always concentrate and to be focused.”

“I love to compete, and really, the fun of the sport is just to have fun,” says Cassandra, whose coach is Susan Jennings, a four-time All American, All-Ivy foil fencer.

“It’s not just a game,” Cassandra adds. “You have to work at it a lot.”

Between epee and foil, Cassandra prefers foil “because it is more of a challenge.”

“You have a smaller target to work with,” she says.

Cassandra and Andrea’s parents and elder sister attended the championships in Miami to offer their support and enjoy a summer vacation.

“I was a little shocked to see them do that good at the competition under the stress and pressure,” says Line. “It was a shock to both me and the coaches. We were all very happy.”

Andrea and Cassandra are preparing for their next national event in Pasadena, Calif., in January.

In other news:

* The Saville Middle School Concert Choir will represent Nevada in the American Musical Salute to New York City Remembering 9/11 on Sunday. The concert will be at the Javits Center near the site of Ground Zero. Rossana Cota, the choir director, says the 45-member seventh- and eighth-grade choir will perform four songs at the concert with other middle school and high school choirs from across the country. In addition, the choir will perform the national anthem at Fire Station No. 10 Saturday. The choir is the only one selected from Nevada to participate in the concert.

If you know of a worthy candidate for this column, mail information to Youth Spotlight, Las Vegas Review-Journal, P.O. Box 70, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0070, or send faxes to 383-4676.

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