For some, the idea of destiny is an abstract concept, one that is often left to contemplation and critical debate. However, for Herby Raynaud, destiny has been reality. At 32, the software developer technologist for the Union Bank of Switzerland in Weehawken, New Jersey, is an avid fencer. His initial contact with the sport occurred by happenstance during his freshman year at Columbia University.
“It’s kind of a weird story,” he reminisces. “The university requires everyone to do some type of physical activity for the semester, and I am a notorious procrastinator. So, I waited until the last minute. Fencing was the only thing that would fit into my schedule.”
He proved to be a natural — which shocked his instructor. Most professional fencers begin the sport at an early age, sometimes as young as 5 years old. Raynaud was 19, and after his first semester in the class, he joined the junior varsity fencing team. He has been excelling ever since.
Raynaud is now a coach and administrator for the Peter Westbrook Foundation, the nationally renowned association that assists at-risk youth in gearing their energies toward fencing. He has been a member of the U.S. National Fencing Team for the last four consecutive years and has traveled to Europe and Asia to compete in world championships. Currently, Raynaud is training for the Olympic team. It’s the only team he hasn’t made.
“I think that on any given day I could beat anyone,” he says confidently. “I have the talent. I have the physical ability. But for me to say that I can win a medal right now is probably unrealistic at this point. But it is definitely not outside of the realm of possibilities.”
JOIN SOMETHING: If you are interested in recreational fencing, Raynaud recommends checking out the Peter Westbrook Foundation (www.peterwestbrook.org), contacting an intramural team at a local university, or joining a class at the YMCA.
INVEST TIME AND MONEY: If you’re serious about this sport, Raynaud says you can easily spend anywhere from $3,000—$4,000 your first year. Qualification for an inter-national competition requires at least three private lessons each week, a club membership, and equipment that must be approved by the International Fencing Association. From 1999 to 2000, Raynaud spent about $20,000 in training and traveling expenses.
RESEARCH THE SPORT: Raynaud suggests that you use Websites such as www.usfencing.org as a resource. This Website describes the sport as well as programs that you can join.