DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke fencing team returns to action at the Philadelphia Invitational January 26-27. Recently, GoDuke.com sat down with senior saber fencer Sean Cadley to learn more about the New York, N.Y., native.
GoDuke.com: What is the most misunderstood thing about fencing?
Sean Cadley: So I think when most people think about fencing they think it is a lot of blades hitting together, pirates, a lot of violence, but actually I think it's most like boxing where the sport has most to do with the distance between you and the other fencer than anything else. One stereotype about fencing is that it is like pirates swashbuckling. The other stereotype is that it is a mental chess, which, a certain extent I think is true in terms that, yes, there are tactics involved, but there are also tactics involved in every sport. There's a lot more physical responding to stimuli in fencing that you see again more in boxing than anything else. Also the last thing is that everyone seems to think that fencing is all the same, but in reality there are three different types of fencing. There is foil, epee, and saber, and I equate this most to racket sports; whether it is tennis, badminton, and ping pong. You are using a racket in all of them, and you have a forehand back into the serve, but they are completely different. In the fencing weapons, the same is true.
GoDuke.com: What's it like to fence for Alex?
SC: It's fun. I mean the whole coaching staff is so, so supportive of everyone on the team, and knowing you have that support behind you is really, really great. Knowing that you are a part of one of the best-run programs in the country is, again, a great thing. So it's really nice knowing that he'll always have your back, (assistant coaches) Stephen (Kovacs) and Darius (Wei) will always have your back, and just having that support is just a really great thing.
GoDuke.com: What's been your favorite or most interesting class that you've taken at Duke?
SC: So I have a couple. The first was I really enjoyed Movement for Theater with Dana Marks. That was a really fun class. I just ran around the room for a while. But actually my favorite class at Duke, it is kind of embarrassing, was Econ 51 with Professor Fullenkamp. I think he is one of the most interesting characters on campus and I just loved the class. Also, Russian Revolutionary Cinema with Martin Miller; kind of diverse. I am a Russian major with an Econ and History double minor. So in the grand scheme of things it kind of makes sense, but I'm kind of a weird anomaly. My fencing coach from home actually spent three years in Poland after he graduated from Vassar, and so he speaks Polish fluently. The fencing community is very eastern-European heavy, so all my friends growing up all spoke Polish or Russian or Ukrainian or whatever. So I grew up always being really jealous that they could speak to each other in a different language. I came to Duke and was thinking about taking Polish, but the right level wasn't being offered for me so I got into Russian 1, loved it, and have continued on. I have always been interested in Russian history and culture in general so it was a good fit for me at least.
GoDuke.com: So what are you goals post-graduation?
SC: So I am kind of all over the place again. I am looking into different sales opportunities, in addition to kind of marketing stuff. Eventually, I am really interested in going into international business. Using foreign travel skills, language skills, but we'll see what happens.
GoDuke.com: What's your favorite book?
SC: On the Road by Jack Kerouac.
GoDuke.com: If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?
SC: I would give it to my Dad to invest it. Then I would probably save it, but if I was very wealthy and didn't have to worry about anything, I would buy a really, really big black car or Escalade.
GoDuke.com: What sport other than your own would you like to play?
SC: I think soccer. I played soccer when I was younger. I loved soccer, and I really wish I was good at it. I think that boxing would be really fun. If I could play football, I think that would be really fun too.
GoDuke.com: What's one thing that always puts you in a good mood?
SC: Music. I am kind of all over the place. I am one of the people who latches on to a song and plays it on repeat for 48 hours straight. I drive all my friends and my roommate insane. Right now the song I'm listening to is I Need Your Love by Ellie Goulding and Calvin Harris. It's my cardio jam right now, but it changes. Taylor Swift has been in there.
GoDuke.com: Who's been the biggest influence in your life and why?
SC: It would definitely be my fencing coach from home. I started fencing with him when I was 13 and not only did I fall in love with the sport, but just his influence on my life really can't be measured. I think he's my dad, my best friend, he's my uncle, he's my brother, he's really changed the course of my life in such a positive way. I really don't think I'd be here without him. He has a great club that I watched him build. Still to this day, I go home for breaks and I fence there every day. He's my best friend. I am not sure if I am his best friend, but I think I talk to him more than my parents. He's really just been an incredible influence on my life.