After a two-year wait, teen fencing sensation Foof Baksa wins gold at the Sunshine State Games
Frances “Foof” Baksa is only 15 years old, but she has already spent almost half of her young life as a competitive fencer, winning numerous titles – oftentimes defeating much older opponents – and steadily building a reputation as one of the best young fencers in Florida. In June, Foof captured her third Sunshine State Games gold medal when she took first place in the Open Women’s Épée division. She first won gold in 2016 at age 10 and won another in 2018 at age 12.
Foof, now a 5-foot, 11-inch sophomore at Lake Mary High School, has amassed a huge collection of fencing trophies and medals over the past seven years and has dreams of competing in college and beyond. And, while parents Carolyn and Lou are extremely supportive, they are almost baffled by their daughter’s success. In fact, Carolyn admits, she knew so little about the sport when Foof started fencing at age eight, she had to wait until her daughter removed her mask after each match – to see Foof’s expression – before Carolyn knew whether or not to clap. She couldn’t tell until then whether or not Foof had won or lost.
“We have noticed over the years that a lot of kids in fencing had parents who fenced in college or older siblings who fenced,” Carolyn says. “We don’t have any of that. This has been 110 percent her thing.”
While her parents continue to learn about the sport, Foof has become one of the best young female fencers in Florida. At the 2021 Sunshine State Games, she proved it once again with her gold-medal victory. It was a long time coming since the 2020 Games were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This was a really big deal for me, because in 2019, I lost to a girl in the finals who I had beaten in the past, and that was very frustrating to me,” says Foof, who went on to win silver medals in the Youth 14 divisions in both épée (a defensive style of fencing) and saber (the quickest, most aggressive style) that year. “In 2020, I didn’t get a chance to – quote, unquote – redeem myself. So, to win it again after waiting so long, that was really exciting.”
Another big deal event for Foof this summer was attending a weeklong fencing camp at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado. Ever since she started fencing, Foof has made it a goal to attend the Academy and compete for the Falcons.
She was inspired by her dad, a retired engineer, who enlisted in the Air Force when he was 18 years old.
“Government service has always been a big part of my life because that’s what my dad did,” says Foof, who is a member of Lake Mary High’s Junior ROTC program and was recently honored for having the highest grade-point average (a weighted 4.3 on a 4.0 scale) in her class. “So, I really want to go there. It’s the Air Force, and they’ve got a fencing team, so it’s everything I could possibly imagine.”
In addition to her excellence in both fencing and academics, Foof is also an outstanding bowler (with a 170 average), is a member of Lake Mary’s water polo team, and plays French horn in the marching band. In addition to working toward qualifying for national fencing events this coming season, Foof is also looking forward to having a normal sophomore year at Lake Mary High.
“I’m really looking forward to everything that didn’t happen because of COVID,” Foof says. “We didn’t have a homecoming dance, there was no marching season, my sports seasons got cut in half because of COVID. We had no pep rallies, and I was very excited for pep rallies. So I’m just really happy that people are getting vaccinated, and hopefully everything will get back to normal for the most part.”
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