"Whatever Alpy said, that's what we're doing."
This has become a motto for Whitman fencers who follow the lead of epee Alexandria Alpy.
Though she is only a junior, Alpy has established herself as the leader of her team, commanding the respect of underclassmen and seniors alike.
While reluctant at first, Alpy has embraced this role, taking about as much pride in her team's success as her own.
"At first, it was a little awkward," Alpy said, "because [I was] used to having everyone tell me what to do, and I [liked] carrying it out."
Now though, coaches and teammates all speak highly of Alpy's leadership.
"She is an excellent team captain," Whitman coach Kathleen Kolakowski said. "She wants to be the best . . . but she also wants her epee [squad] to be the best."
"It's really nice to know that someone really cares that much about the team," said freshman Samantha Ruotolo, Alpy's teammate in epee. "She's willing to stop what she's doing in order to help you."
Her teammates say Alpy helps by being a strong motivator, in addition to offering strategic and technical advice.
Senior Sarah Goehring, an accomplished epee fencer in her own right who was an individual county finalist this year, said Alpy is always willing to share "the things that she picks up along the way, stuff from personal experience."
One of the things Alpy tries to instill in her teammates is the value of patience, an attribute she says is the key to her own success. "When you're patient, everything comes slower and more naturally," she said. "Opportunities open up [and] that's what fencing is. You see an opportunity and go for it."
Kolakowski said that while Alpy "wants to be the best," she is also "very humble."
Hearing Alpy speak of her fellow fencers' accomplishments is proof of this humility, as well as the pride she takes in her team.
When recalling highlights of the season, Alpy smiled and said how proud she was of her teammates who have "exceeded her expectations" this season, before speaking of Whitman epee winning bronze at January's Huntington Relay.
She said she was "so happy" for the seniors on the team who earned a medal for the first time. Alpy declined to mention that she won six bouts herself that day and earned the winning point for Whitman in the bronze medal match.
It was one of her many successes this season, which also featured her earning a second-consecutive gold medal at the Brentwood Holiday Tournament in December, and wining more than 80 percent of her bouts for Whitman.
Alpy has a received a national rating from the United States Fencing Association, and finished in second in both the under-17 and under-20 epee qualifying groups for the Junior Olympics.
She will be joining 38 other fencers from Long Island at this year's Junior Olympics, which are taking place this weekend in Portland, Oregon.
Before the junior Olympics, January's North American Cup in Virginia Beach was her most recent national tournament. There, she reached the second-knockout round and finished in 56th out of 120 fencers from around the country.
Alpy also gained experience fencing at Hills Fencing Institute for coach Dennis Daly. "Everyone knows Alpy [and] loves Alpy," said Daly, who also coaches Half Hollow Hills' fencing team. "She's just an amazing fencer."
Alpy began fencing at Hills when she was in middle school and recalls older fencers helping her along the way.
With Alpy now in the role of mentor, she wants to have a lasting impact on the younger fencers, which include her sister Anastasia, who is a freshman in sabre for Whitman.
"I'm trying to leave something behind," Alpy said, "so that they can teach other people or be good themselves" and have others look up them.
"I hope I can do that."