Athlete Profile: Jose Samora Jr. - Talented fencer puts team firstAthlete Profile: Jose Samora Jr.
Talented fencer puts team first
Every year in late fall Hunter holds its annual Homecoming day festivities. On that day, all the winter sports teams play at home. There are always big crowds, even some purple and gold face paint, to go along with the abundance of school spirit.
For standout senior fencer Jose Samora Jr., participating in the homecoming games has been among his most memorable moments as a Hunter athlete.
Samora likes to represent the fencing team during this time to let people know that Hunter does indeed have a thriving athletics department, with over 20 teams.
When approached to conduct an interview for this profile, Samora had just as much to say about Hunter athletics as a whole, as he did about his personal achievements in his fencing career.
Samora has been on the fencing team for the entire three and a half years he has studied at Hunter. His fencing career started in high school, at the Frederick Douglas Academy in Manhattan, where he found that he had too much downtime between school letting out and his curfew. To fill the time, he began rigorous training and competition schedules as he learned to be a foil fencer.
There are three types of weapons in fencing each constituting different rules and plays. The three types are sabre, epee and foil. The foil sword is constructed with a button at the tip. Upon contact, that button causes the light to go off, signaling a point. Jose explains that in this variation of fencing, the plays, or phrases, are done in a type of cat and mouse action.
In Samora’s senior year, the 2010-2011 season, his season highlight was when Hunter was invited to participate in the U.S. National College Championships at NYU. Since the team had not been invited to this event in the past, they relished the chance to show off what they could do. Samora and his team went in with an attitude of, “We’re gonna come in, we’re gonna show ‘em what we got and we’re gonna beat the first school.” This is exactly what they ended up doing when they went against Haverford, from Philadelphia. Haverford is a division three squad, like Hunter.
Although Haverford is strong as a squad and may have more experience than some fencing athletes at Hunter, Samora led his foil team with positivity. He works off of the idea that because it is a team effort, if something goes wrong for one, others on the team will pick up the slack.
With this mentality, Hunter’s fencing team beat Haverford and went on to compete against top schools like Notre Dame, Columbia and Brown; all division one schools, and all in one day.
At this event, the foil team went up against the fencer who would go on to win the NCAA tournament for the season. Of the contest, Jose says, “We were able to score X amount of points on this guy who won, and I’ll tell you it was not easy.” But thanks to the Hawks’ team mentality, they were able to make a respectable showing against that fencer and other high caliber opponents.
The team concept continues outside of the immediate context of competing. It branches out to all Hunter athletics. Jose says: “We all go to each others’ games and support each other. There is a family type of atmosphere.” Players tend to hang out in and outside of the classroom. He says that although some may be participating in different sports, they might be going through the same problems or situations and will typically listen to each other’s woes and give each other advice.
Athletes often participate in leadership meetings and enrichment programs, which showcase motivational speakers. Each speaker comes from a different walk of life and speaks to the students about hardships they’ve faced being an athlete and in life. These meetings can get in depth with personal horror stories of disease and being mistreated by peers. But in the end Jose says, “They teach us how to live healthy lifestyles as an athlete and as a student.”
Despite the recent struggles of the fencing team, Jose continues to lead his team. He has noticed, in his teammates and himself, that the only requirement for success, more important than skill and results, is a proper attitude. If everyone has the same attitude of wanting to get better, than the team will succeed. He says, “As a team, you don’t have to be really good, but that you just have to know how to get to where you want to go.”