UNION, NJ — Alanna Clayton remembers how, as an eighth-grader at Montclair Kimberley Academy, she was simply looking for something new to do during the winter months.
Then she discovered fencing.
The dedication she developed for the highly disciplined sport has led to new vistas, both in athletics and academics, as her success in fencing has resulted in her earning a scholarship at Wagner College.
The Union resident made it official on the NCAA’s National Signing Day on Wednesday, Nov. 9, when she put ink on the necessary papers to finalize her commitment to the Division I program at the Staten Island, N.Y., school.
“Back when I was in the eighth grade, they had just started an after-school fencing club at MKA and I was looking for something to do activitywise in the winter,” Clayton recalled. “I figured I had nothing else to do and I thought, ‘Let’s try this!’
“I then started going to club fencing, training at the Lilov Fencing Academy in Cedar Grove and just kept working at becoming a better fencer.
“My coaches were all encouraging, and, when I came to the upper school at MKA, I joined the high school team with coaches Derek Mohr and Mike Alexander and just kept training.”
The MKA epee fencing standout then made a connection with the program at Wagner, which was also a nice fit academically for the student-athlete and Union resident. Clayton’s verbal acceptance of the scholarship offer by the Seahawk fencing coaches came just a few days before her official signing.
“I first heard about their physician assistant’s program, and there are only a few of them in the country,” continued Clayton. “Then I realized that Wagner also had a good Division I fencing program, and I knew that there was a combination there with the major I wanted to pursue, plus I could continue to fence at a high level in college.
“It’s all worked out well and I’m excited about my senior season here at MKA, where I’ve developed some great relationships with the other fencers, both on and off the strip, and I’ve been able to continue to grow in the sport.”