Lowell student foiling field of competitiors

Stefani Kahookele recalls being captivated by the fencing competition during the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing.

“I played other sports, but none of them really appealed to me,” the 4-foot-11 San Franciscan said. “Fencing was pretty cool. I wanted to try it; you get to use swords. The weapon was appealing.”

Kahookele, who lives with her parents and younger brother in the Golden Gate Heights section of The City, signed up for the San Francisco Fencers Club’s summer camp. She soon discovered that the weapon, and the sport, was indeed very appealing.

The 14-year-old swashbuckler had won three or four local tournaments, but it was at nationals in Cincinnati on Oct. 3 that she locked up her spot as a legitimate force in the sport of foil fencing.

Ninety-one fencers battled. After dropping just one of her six bouts in pool competition, Kahookele found herself in 26th position. Five direct elimination bouts later, the surprised and exhausted foilist ended the day as the Division II bronze medalist.

“In two years, to have these kinds of results is pretty amazing,” said Oleksiy Fortunatov, the popular Ukrainian-born coach of S.F. Fencers. “She is a very hard worker. She trained and prepared hard the whole summer.”

While juggling her studies at Lowell High School, where she is a freshman, Kahookele manages to attend four classes and two private lessons each week at the San Francisco Fencers Club.

Launched in April of 2006 with only three fencers — the two sons and niece of manager-owner Miriam Khoshnevissan — the club has grown to more than 200 kids.

Males wishing to be Zorro are predominant; thus, Kahookele spars primarily with what Fortunatov terms, “mean, tough boys” while adding, “the boys are saying, ‘Wow, it’s not so easy fencing with Stefani like it used to be.’”

Her style is a defensive one. Playing a game of strategy, she will lull her opponent into thinking that Kahookele is in attack mode while she quickly and confidently changes gears, confusing the opponent and scoring points.

Citing world history as her favorite subject in school, Kahookele may see and experience much of the world as her international competitive fencing career begins in February. She’ll be traveling to Paris to compete in the 14-and-under category in the world finals.

“I think that it’ll be good results if she makes top 32 in the world,” Fortunatov said.

 

San Francisco Fencers Club

WHERE: 4000 Balboa St., San Francisco

INFO: (415) 668-3623, www.sffencers.com

FENCING STYLES: Foil, thrusting weapon to the torso area; Sabre, cutting, thrusting, slashing above the waist; Epee, heavy thrusting to the entire body, head to toe

KAHOOKELE RANKING: Unranked entering nationals, she jumped to level B, skipping E, D and C

Other SportsPersonal BestsportsStefani Kahookele

Just Posted

Niners defensive lineman Joey Bosa played a major role in stopping the Eagles in a Week 2 San Francisco victory. (Courtesy San Francisco 49ers)
What we learned from Niners beating the Eagles

By Mychael Urban Special to The Examiner Is your glass half-empty? Niners… Continue reading

If he secured a full term in the Senate, Newsom would become the most powerful Californian Democrat since Phil Burton at the height of his career, or maybe ever. <ins>(Kevin Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Artist Agnieszka Pilat, pictured with Spot the Robot Dog from Boston Robotics, has a gallery show opening at Modernism. (Courtesy Agnieszka Pilat)
Screenshots of VCs, Kanye and tech parties by the Bay

In this week’s roundup, Ben Horowitz’s surprising hip-hop knowledge and the chic tech crowd at Shack15

San Francisco Giants manager Gabe Kapler, pictured in July at Oracle Park, says team members simultaneously can be “measured and calm” and “looking to push the accelerator.” (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
How Gabe Kapler sets the tone for Giants’ success with strategy, mindset

‘There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s the hands-down manager of the year’

Firefighters extinguish burning material near Lake Tahoe on Sept. 3 in the wake of the Caldor Fire; environmental scientists say the huge fire is bringing to light deficiencies in forest management. <ins>(Max Whittaker/New York Times)</ins>
Cal Fire, timber industry must face an inconvenient truth

We are logging further into the wildfire and climate crisis

Most Read