As a sophomore at Democracy Prep Endurance High School, Dominique Revander didn’t know much about the sport of fencing, but she decided to try out for the school team in 2016. Less than a year later, she was nationally ranked and competing in an international training camp in China. But her journey from amateur to multi-tournament winner didn’t come without its challenges.
After struggling to learn the basics, she improved and began doing well against her team. Dominique’s first experience competing against other schools was at the largest fencing tournament in the United States. She lost most of her matches and placed very low. Nevertheless, she persisted.
After taking time to participate in extra practices, Dominique’s confidence increased as she began improving in each tournament and winning matches. Her growth ultimately earned her a national ranking as a U.S. fencer. She later received an invitation to Olympic silver medalist, Tim Morehouse’s fencing gala. She was also in the running for the Tim Gunn Award which gave winners the opportunity to travel and participate in a training camp in China.
Even though DPEHS fencing Coach Mike Martinez and many others at her school had known for weeks that Dominique had won the award, they kept it a secret.
“Once they announced who won, I thought, ‘oh my god, no way,” Dominique said. “It was very exciting and it didn’t settle in with me that I was actually going to China until I went to get the visa and passport.”
Competing in China was intimidating for Dominique. Despite her rapid improvement, she was competing against boys who she says were, “taller, stronger, and faster.” But she prepared for the tournament with the same humble approach she took when she first began facing tougher competition and moving into a higher ranking.
“Sometimes you just have to remind yourself that you’ll progress over time,” she said. “Even if right now I’m not the best at what I’m doing, I’m better than where I was when I started.”
Dominique used the opportunity to learn different fencing techniques from other competitors, while also enjoying her time outside the tournament experiencing many different cultures.
“I think as an athlete, and as a person, I’ve grown more confident and mature,” she said. “If I had to describe the trip in a word, and this is cheating because it’s two words, I’d say, ‘life changing.’”
While Dominique continues to amaze her coach and teammates with her potential, she’s also inspiring the scholars around her. Mr. Martinez said scholars have shown increased interest in fencing after hearing of Dominique’s accomplishments.
“Thanks to people like Dominique, just in this school alone, we have people already asking about tryouts,” said Mr. Martinez. “I think our numbers are going to grow tremendously. I think they’re seeing what is possible through this sport.”
Dominique walked into the gym at DPEHS an amateur, but is now an icon. Her determination to succeed has inspired her to pass on her knowledge to her teammates.
“I’m looking forward to bringing back what I learned in China and teaching others,” Dominique said. “I hope to be more of a leader and pass on what I learned to someone else.”