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West Orange Times & Observer Monday, Aug. 25, 2014 3 years ago

Fencing-'machine' Logan Gatza takes on all foes

by: Steven Ryzewski Sports Editor


That Logan Gatza got an idea while watching television one day isn’t particularly unique.

What the idea was and where it has taken him since, though, is.

Gatza, 9, starting fencing after watching the Olympics one day. He saw the sport for the first time and was hooked immediately.

“I looked for a fencing club, and there was one in downtown Winter Garden, and I went to it, and I just stuck with it,” Logan, a Winter Garden native, said, adding that he was drawn in by “the swords and the hand-to-hand combat.”

Since then, the local youth has seen his passion for fencing take him places. 

Logan is one of the top-ranked fencers in the Southeast Region (12 states), has won several medals since he took up the sport at age 7 and has even expanded upon fencing and starting doing modern pentathlons (an Olympic sport involving fencing, swimming, running, shooting and horseback riding, though youths do not participate in the horseback events).

Most recently, Logan took home the silver medal at the USA Modern Pentathlon National Championships at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

For Logan’s parents, Jeramy and Lena Gatza, it has been a joy to watch their son dedicate himself to something at such a young age. The Gatzas have a background in martial arts, but Logan’s interest in fencing, along with ballroom dancing, among other things, came out of the blue — not that they’re complaining.

“It’s a very mental sport, and from a parent’s point of view it’s interesting because you can help them, you can work with them on training, but once he’s out on the strip — it’s [just] him,” Jeramy said. “He’s got to figure out what to do.”

Logan is quite the busy kid, another thing his parents are proud of. In addition to practicing for fencing and pentathlons multiple times each week with his coach, Omar El Geziry, Logan is an ‘A’ student at Orlando Science Charter School and a Cub Scout (with aspirations of becoming an Eagle Scout) and even speaks French.

“We try to stay up with him,” Jeramy said, referencing his son’s energy. “He’s just like a little machine. 

“Pentathlon is a good fit for him because he likes to do a variety of things already.”

A kid who dreams plenty big, Logan openly aspires to be an Olympian one day. He looks up to El Geziry in part, he says, because he was nearly an Olympian himself.

Logan enjoyed the trip to Colorado this summer and says he was inspired by many of the people he met, including plenty of former Olympic athletes.

“It was really an interesting place,” Logan said. “It was really, really cool.”

Logan keeps busy with other sports, too, and says he likes to play soccer — when he can find the time. An ambassador of sorts for fencing to other children, Logan encourages more to take up the sport because, after all, it’s rooted in practicality.

“Well, it’s not like kicking a ball around into a goal,” Logan said. “You could actually have to do that [fencing] for your life someday.”

The future is bright for Logan, whether he reaches his dream of becoming an Olympian or not. The Winter Garden youth also wants to be a video game designer when he grows up and hopes that perhaps he could fence in college.

And while he says his coach is his role model, when push comes to shove Logan gives his supportive parents plenty of credit for helping him chase his dreams.

“I think [their support] is very important,” Logan said. “They’re the ones who spend all the money for me to do this!”

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