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Teen has sights set on Junior Olympics

February 13, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA.

charlestown@herald-mail.com

Karl Anderson is 14 years old and he is bilingual.

In addition to English, Anderson speaks Swedish, which he learned from his mother, who was born in Sweden.

By the time he was in second grade, Anderson was taking a liking to music.

One of his friends played cello and another played violin.

Anderson focused on the viola and has been playing ever since.

Today, the Shepherdstown Middle School eighth-grader is playing regularly in the Shepherd University Senior Preparatory Orchestra, a group of musical players who range from middle school to college students.

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Now Anderson's interests are turning to sports.

Soccer? No, he tried that but didn't like it.

Hoops? Nope.

It's fencing, and he's getting quite good.

When Anderson was in fifth grade, he went to Sweden to live with his mother, Marie Anderson, for a year.

He expressed an interest in fencing and began taking lessons in Sweden.

When Anderson returned to Shepherdstown, he found a fencing instructor in Frederick, Md., where he could continue his study.

There are three types of fencing - epee, foil and saber - and Anderson began focusing on epee, where a touch on any part of a competitor's body with a sword can score points.

He has continued to take courses, studying in Charles Town, W.Va., and Frederick, and returning to Sweden last summer to participate in a strenuous fencing camp.

Anderson said when he returned from Sweden, his instructor told him he was ready for tournament competition.

Anderson competed in a fencing tournament in Charlottesville, Va., last October and tied for third place, qualifying for the USA Junior Olympics, which begin Friday in Hartford, Conn., and run through Feb. 20.

In Hartford, Anderson will be competing in an event that will attract 1,700 competitors and if he does well, he can earn points toward entry into international fencing competitions.

Dan Anderson, Karl's father, has been watching his son develop his fencing style as he focuses more on the sport.

"I see a very quick determination," said Dan Anderson, explaining that his son is usually reserved.

"As a parent, it's nice to see youngsters stick with this type of thing to achieve something," Dan Anderson said.

Although the two avocations appear to be quite different, Karl Anderson said he can see where playing the viola has helped him to be a better fencer. The common thread is that both have very rhythmic actions, Karl Anderson said.

Anderson said he became interested in fencing after watching others participate.

"I had read about it before and I've seen it in movies. It just seemed to be a real interesting sport," Anderson said.

Anderson's family lives in Shepherdstown. Dan Anderson is an agent with ERA Liberty Realty in Shepherdstown and Marie Anderson is a teacher at Shepherdstown Elementary School.

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