Armed with protective clothing over his body and a steel mask over his head, Lucas Orts holds his sword in his right hand, ready to strike his opponent at any moment. Light on his feet, Orts parries an attack, lunges forward and makes a hit at his opponent with precision in a split of a second. Orts routinely tests his reflexes as he prepares for his next international fencing competition.
His desire to achieve a childhood dream has taken him far. When he was eight years old, Orts dreamed of becoming a pirate. Wanting to engage in a sport with a lot of action, he signed up for fencing classes through the Burlingame Parks and Recreation Department. As his skill got progressively better and showed potential for growth, he switched to training at a top fencing club, the Massialas Foundation MTEAM Fencing in San Francisco, where he currently practices with Alexander Massialas, a Rio 2016 Olympic Silver medalist, Gerek Meinhardt, ranked 9th in the world, and James Andrew-Davis, ranked 10th in the world.
“Fencing challenging opponents means I'm constantly improving,” Orts said.
To be competitive, Orts has to maintain his physical conditions so that he can face challenges arising under stressful conditions during a typical match. Fencing is intense in that it tests his ability to utilize both his mind and body to defeat his opponents. He fences at the club three to four times a week for two hours a day, and when outside of the club, he cross trains through biking, swimming, and running daily.
“Core strength and lower body strength are both crucial for speed and balance,” Orts said. “Finger and hand strength is necessary for precision.”
Orts travels across the nation and around the globe to compete with the best junior fencers in the world, some who will most likely be competing at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games. Despite having to drop many interests and activities, he enjoys to focus more on fencing, training, and deep commitments has paid off. He has won regional, national, and international medals. Some of the highlights include a gold medal in a Budapest, Hungary Cadet World Cup among those under 17 years old, a medal in the Bratislava, Slovakia Cadet World Cup, and seven National Championship medals. In 2014, Orts was ranked number 64 nationally in the Junior Men’s Foil and number 50 nationally in the Cadet Men’s Foil.
As he approached senior year in high school, his top talent in fencing, as well as his strong academic performance in AP and Honors courses, has caught the attention of Stanford University, which recruited him for fencing and offered him admission to the class of 2021.
“I'm both tremendously relieved and excited to be accepted by Stanford because they have a long tradition of academic and athletic excellence,” Orts said. “I have no idea what I'm going to study at Stanford, but I'm looking forward to exploring my options. Stanford is unique as they encourage students to find their interests and declare their majors a little later.”
“My advice to aspiring athletes is to love the sport that they do because getting good requires a significant time commitment and mental discipline,” Orts said. “Be prepared to persevere through failures.”