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Imagine my surprise, driving along, flipping channels, to hear the unique voice of John and Suzanne’s high school history teacher, long retired. And he was on Only a Game. I know the show’s host is eclectic, but I couldn’t see how Bill Littlefield was going to work into his sports show Eliot Lilien’s expertise in World War I or Russian history.

Well, what do you know! It turns out Only a Game was focusing on the high school’s 50 years of a sport that Mr. Lilien started there: fencing.

Littlefield writes that 50 years ago, to get the program started, Mr. Lilien “found a few opponents at other secondary schools in the Northeast, and some at colleges, and some at clubs. …

“ ‘When you first began the program 50 years ago,’ I asked, ‘did you ever imagine that it would still be going strong in 50 years?’

“ ‘I didn’t think about,’ he said. ‘But I’m very grateful that it has been, and that this high school has been willing to support it.’

“Some of Lilien’s first recruits showed up hoping to bring Dungeons & Dragons to life with swords. He had to teach them that the sport required not fantasy but discipline, balance, tactics, psychology, and brains — most of the time.

“ ‘Of course, if you’re faster than anyone else, and stronger, it becomes less important,’ Lilien said.

“ ‘The mental part of it?’ I asked.

“ ‘If you can launch a gigantic attack, it doesn’t make any difference how smart the other person is. He’s gonna get hit,’ Lilien answered.”

Listen to the interview at Only a Game.

I wonder if the 50-year mark at the high school as anything to do with the local resurgence of interest in fencing. The space across from my hairdresser, where the wonderful craft shop Dabblers used to be, has morphed into a fencing studio. Fun to watch when you’re getting your hair cut.

Photo: Jesse Costa/Only a Game

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