NT student fencer putting Glencoe on the map

As Jack Gillman watched each top-8 finisher receive their medal at the USA Fencing National Championships in July, he heard the announcers read a laundry list of cities.

He remembers hearing places like the host town, Columbus, and Salt Lake City. But when he walked to the podium, the Glencoe native paused when the announcer read his hometown aloud.

“Almost everyone’s heard of those places, but no one’s heard of Glencoe,” Gillman said. “I’ve been to national tournaments in Milwaukee and Minneapolis, and this was my third. It was kind of neat being far away and representing your town. It’s a good feeling.”

Gillman finished tied for sixth in the 2014 Division III Men’s Epee Tournament, his best finish at a national tournament. Of the 125 fencers who competed, he was just one of two athletes from the state of Illinois, and the only one from the area to place as a finalist.

“It was great. It’s so competitive at nationals,” his father, Glenn, said. “You don’t generally think you’re going to do great. Maybe you want to, but he kept knocking guys out and advancing and it was really neat, just to see him up there.”

Gillman is no stranger to success, however. As a junior at New Trier High School, he was a Great Lakes all-conference selection, finishing third in the Illinois divisional and third in the conference championships. Now heading into his senior year, he’ll be the captain of this year’s epee squad.

All of that’s not bad for a kid who happened on the sport by chance. He’s been fencing for five years, but didn’t start until his mother suggested he try the sport at random.

“I did a sports camp in New Trier the summer before my seventh grade, and I started with the normal sports I’d done previous years, baseball and tennis.” Gillman said. “My mom told me to do one more. She said, ‘Oh, why not do fencing?’ and I thought it was pretty cool. It’s made all the difference.”

At this point, he’s looking at continuing in the sport in college, and, hopefully, beyond that. If it’s not in college, he’s hoping it’s for a competitive club; he’s a member of the Illinois Fencers Club.

His college choice won’t likely be local. He’s looking at schools on the East Coast, in areas such as Boston, New York or the Washington, D.C. area. But no matter where he ends up, or what tournament he’s competing in, he’ll always be representing Glencoe, as he did in Columbus.

“There’s a lot of pride,” his father said. ”He’s really coming along, he’s made it, and got pretty far in all of this.”

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