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O'Connell fencer prepares for Junior Olympics

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Fencers are hard to come by in Arlington’s Catholic schools. One exception is Bishop O’Connell High School senior Daniel (Danny) Campbell who has been fencing since he was a third-grader at St. Mark School in Vienna.

Campbell — a nationally ranked competitor on the USA Fencing Senior Points List for epee — became interested in fencing because of a TV program. “I saw fencing featured on a Nickelodeon television show,” Campbell said. “I thought it looked cool, and I wanted to give it a shot.”

Fast forward nine years, and Campbell is preparing to go to Denver in February for the 2019 Junior Olympics as an epee fencer.

This preparation process has not just begun. “Over the summer, I have been doing a lot of extra training camps, and I have been seeking out some new training partners,” Campbell said. In addition to practicing against international training partners, he’ll also fence with a coach at his club, a two-time Olympian.

It’s easy to pick out a 6-foot-7 inch guy walking through the halls and think, “that guy probably plays basketball.” It’s a little harder to do that with fencing. Not many people are aware of the fact that Campbell fences, and at an exceptionally high level. He doesn’t boast about the accomplishments of his fencing career, but keeps that to himself.

The O’Connell senior practices and trains around five times a week from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. These sessions are not walk-throughs. Each session starts with 15 minutes of stretching, followed by an hour of conditioning and agility training. He then works on strengthening with squats, push-ups and sit-ups, followed by another hour of footwork. He wraps up his training regimen with fencing against opponents. Exhausted after reading that? It’s okay, he gets Mondays off.

When asked about his work ethic, Coach Guillermo Madrigal of Fencing Sports Academy said, “He has good talent, but he’s also a hard worker. He’s smart and can figure out how to beat his opponents.”

Going to the Junior Olympics is quite a feat. However, it’s not the first time Campbell has participated in a renowned competition such as the Olympics. In eighth-grade, he was selected to represent the United States in the Pan American Games in Aruba. When discussing this, the senior rushed through an interesting detail. “And I won.”

His accomplishments don’t stop there. In the past three years, Campbell has represented the U.S. in Bratislava, Slovakia and Cuba — all while juggling six Advanced Placement courses and playing lead saxophone in the O’Connell Jazz Band. “My life is taken up by homework and fencing right now,” Campbell said.

So, if this fencing thing doesn’t work out, he might have something to fall back on.

As for making it to the Junior Olympics, Campbell said, “I just like competing. It’s fun.” He laughed in a kind of embarrassed and humble way and said, “It’s fun being, you know, good at something.”



© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018