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Tar Heels Land Junior Olympian

Charlie Roth Commits to Powerhouse UNC for Fencing

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It is not every day that a Parker student commits to a college for a sport, and it is even more rare that a student commits to a Division 1 program. But that’s exactly what graduating senior Charlie Roth has done.

After eight years of fencing, Roth has committed to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and signed his National Letter of Intent. Roth is the third person in this senior class to commit to a college for a sport, after Casey Barr (to Bates for baseball) and Marc Taylor (to Williams for basketball).  

Roth is a Junior Olympian, has competed in numerous World Cups, and has faced off in other competitions across the country and in Europe. Roth even placed second at the Junior Olympics, which he said is one of the highlights of his fencing career.

Being a student-athlete at any college at any level is extremely difficult, but doing it at a D1 school powerhouse like North Carolina is an entirely different experience.

North Carolina’s coach, Ron Miller, has been there since 1967. In his 50 years as UNC head coach, Miller has created an environment that keeps top recruits coming to him year after year. Miller has over 1,450 career wins and one National Championship, though they are perennial contenders.

“Coach Miller has built something special at North Carolina,” Roth said. “He’s a fierce competitor and pushes everyone to the brink. He gets the best out of his team, though, and I’m excited for whatever he challenges me to do.”

Roth will share this adventure with fellow UNC fencing commit Joe Taylor, who could perhaps make the transition easier. Roth and Taylor have been fencing together for five years and have forged a strong relationship through being teammates and competing against each other.

Both Roth and Taylor fence for Windy City Fencing, with practices held at the Menomonee Club in the Drucker Center. Practices are held four times a week, for two hours three days a week and two and a half hours the fourth day.

When walking into the Menomonee Club on North Dayton in Chicago, one cannot help but notice the platform set in the middle of the room. When fencers step up on the platform to duel, they are focused on winning. All friendships disappear.  It’s every man for himself.

There are different types of competitions in fencing, and each requires different equipment. The foil is a light, sword-like weapon with a maximum weight of 500 grams. It may target the torso, neck, and groin, but not the arms or legs. Épée, which is what Roth fences, is a 775 gram weapon that can be used to poke at any part of the body. The last is sabre, which is 500 grams and can target any place above the waist.

Though fencing might not be as widely known a sport as basketball or football, it takes just as much athletic talent, cardio, and strategy. Fencers are constantly moving back and forth along the platform and searching for an advantage on their opponent. Anything can help, as fighters are trying to always be one step ahead of their challenger.

Roth is looking forward to continuing to fence in the years ahead. “I’m really excited to fence at UNC,” Roth said, “and being a D1 athlete will be an incredible experience.

The student news site of Francis W. Parker School
Tar Heels Land Junior Olympian