Aquinas Academy fencer Sam Everson wins Western Pennsylvania Positive Athlete award

Thursday, July 23, 2020 | 4:11 PM

When the Western Pennsylvania Positive Athlete award winners were announced earlier this month, Aquinas Academy’s Sam Everson was honored as the boys alternative sport recipient.

Everson was the team captain of Aquinas’ fencing team, and the rising junior was named the Team MVP this past season after recording a bout record of 19-5 for the Crusaders. Everson was ecstatic about receiving the honor, but said he was honestly a little surprised.

“It was pretty incredible, but I really did not expect to be a winner,” Everson said. “As soon as I got the email, I was forwarding it to everybody.”

Although Everson was surprised, his coach, John Carroll, who nominated him for the honor, was not.

About three years ago, Aquinas Academy, which has had a fencing team for five years, decided to open its program to middle school students. Everson was an eighth-grader at the time and decided to join, but he also brought along about six or seven other students. Since then, Carroll said Everson has had an impact on the team, both as one of the best athletes and as a leader.

“What Sam was able to do was keep everyone focused on having fun and staying in the zone to keep fencing,” Carroll said. “There were a lot of situations where I felt, throughout the year, that he was able to rise to the occasion and keep everyone moving in the right direction. I think that is a really strong sign of leadership and being able to lead through adversity.”

When Everson joined the fencing team three years ago, he wanted to be involved in a team sport. He had participated in kung fu since he was younger and thought the sports matched up well so he decided to give it a try, not knowing how it would turn out.

Before long, Everson, who has a 4.24 GPA and was named to the U.S. Fencing Association All-Academic First Team, was hooked to the sport. Outside of high school, he also started to compete on the club circuit with Pittsburgh Fencers and has aspirations of competing at the college level.

“It was just the combination of just the physical and the mental aspects, that aren’t really present in other sports,” Everson said about what reeled him into the sport. “In fencing, there are a lot of fine techniques and strategies. It was very difficult to pick it up and I had a lot of bad habits from kung fu that I’m still working to get out of my game.”

While learning the sport was difficult for Everson, Carroll called him “one of the most responsive athletes I have ever coached” in regards to how he’s able to take direction during a match, or even in practice. With those attributes, Everson has been able to excel at the sport as he’s continued to learn over the past two years.

“Sam has a unique ability for his age, in terms of being mature as an athlete, to identify what strategy and tactics he should be applying and to make those changes during the bout,” Carroll said. “He responds to coaching exceedingly well, so you can cue him to make a change or adaptation within a bout or match, and he usually responds almost instantaneously.”

Carroll’s talented captain still has two years of high school left, but he’s already set on what he wants to do when he gets older. Everson said he has goals of fencing for one of the military academies when he goes to college and already got to experience the atmosphere when he visited the Naval Academy last year.

“I got to sit on their bench during one of their meets and talk with the team,” Everson said. “That was really amazing and I’d really love to fence for them. I was trying to visit the Air Force this spring, but it didn’t happen. I’d really like to continue fencing though.”

Until then, Everson is looking to improve his game and have a positive impact on his team over the next two years.

Greg Macafee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Greg by email at or via Twitter .


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