Inspiring Latina: Fencer Natalie Vie Has the 2016 Olympics on the Brain

Inspiring Latina: Fencer Natalie Vie Has The Rio De Janeiro Olympics On The Brain

Natalie Vie grew up dancing, not fencing. But in high school, she found herself inspired by the adventures of Holden Caulfield, the protagonist in The Catcher in The Rye and the manager for the fencing team at the fictional Pencey Prep. 

"I thought that sounded so cool. Fencing? What's that all about?" she says. "I looked up a club, and the fencing coach answered me that day. I did a summer camp, and I just got hooked." 

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At the age of 18, Vie found her true passion in life. Now, she fences competitively — but she acknowledges that discovering her sport so late has come with a serious set of challenges. Most competitive fencers begin training between the ages of five and eight years old. 

"I felt I had to work so much harder than everybody else," she admits. "I was 10 years behind. My work ethic was different than everybody else's. If everyone else's training was two hours a day, I felt I had to train four hours a day. I always felt like I had to do more than everybody else."

Her hard work has definitely paid off. The athlete served as a fourth alternate on the U.S. Olympic Team for the London Summer Olympics in 2012, and next year, she hopes to compete at the Rio De Janeiro games. 

We chatted with this Inspiring Latina about her life as a professional athlete, her hobbies outside of the sport, and more. See it all below: 

You started late for a fencer — at age 18. At what point did fencing stop being a hobby and start being something you wanted to pursue professionally?

I started fencing the summer after I graduated high school, so it was a big transitional period in my life. I was about to go to college (Arizona State) in the same city where I was fencing and where I live, so when I did that first camp, I had a really open schedule. From the very first week that I started fencing, I was fencing five days a week.  I don’t know why I was so motivated to fence, but I kind of just got obsessed. I don’t think I really knew why I was obsessed. I knew that I loved it, and I knew that it was a passion. It was something that I wanted to do, and I have a little bit of a obsessive personality anyways.

Did anybody ever give you flack because you started fencing so late? 

When I first started fencing, I was told I was too old and too short to really make anything out of myself. So, from the get-go I don't think anyone took me seriously when I first came in. But there was one coach that really believed in me. They told me I was talented, that I could do it, that I was the real deal.

I also didn’t tell my teammates that I was 18 when I started fencing. Only recently did I begin telling people I started so late. I was kind of embarrassed for some reason. Sometimes the stories that are the hardest to tell are the ones that really should be told. So recently, I'm like, 'Yeah, I started fencing when I was older. Yeah I had a lot of haters. Yeah people really didn’t believe I could do it.'

We have so many limits in our minds. As humans, we are very self-limiting. Sometimes, you just have to push past that.

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