Humans of Harker: Parries and counterattacks

Kishan Sood lunges ahead in life by soaking in each moment

%E2%80%9CThere+was+this+point+in+sophomore+year+during+Mr.+Hurshman%27s+poker+tournament%2C+where+he+asked+us+about+%5Bthe+point%5D+of+school+%E2%80%94+%5Bit%E2%80%99s%5D+to+learn+%E2%80%94+not+about+any+numbers+or+anything+else.+And+it+just+resonated+with+me.+That%27s+what+I+want+to+do.+I+want+to+learn+%E2%80%A6+%5BGo%5D+into+classes+with+the+mentality+to+really+learn%2C+no+matter+what+grade+you+get%2C+you%27ll+come+out+a+better+person+in+life%2C%E2%80%9D+Kishan+Sood+%2812%29+said.

Esha Gohil

“There was this point in sophomore year during Mr. Hurshman’s poker tournament, where he asked us about [the point] of school — [it’s] to learn — not about any numbers or anything else. And it just resonated with me. That’s what I want to do. I want to learn … [Go] into classes with the mentality to really learn, no matter what grade you get, you’ll come out a better person in life,” Kishan Sood (12) said.

“En Garde! Prêts? Allez!” With those four words, the contest of survival begins.

On an elevated stage, two fighters, both garbed in silver and white outfits and armed with foils, tense for a split second. Within a split second, one speedily advances, charging his arm and foil ahead in the direction of his opponent. Reacting instantaneously, the other fighter retreats backward with a single bound and clashes steel against steel, parrying his opponent’s swipe. In quick response, the retreating fighter lunges forward for his counterattack, plunging his foil into the soft cloth of his adversary’s target area. And just like that, in a quick blur and a span of mere seconds, the bout is over.

The winning fencer drops his foil onto the ground and grabs his mask with both hands, prying it off, shaking his head loose and tossing his hair. A grin breaks out onto his face, stretching from ear to ear, as the announcers recognize Kishan “Kish” Sood (12) the victor.

When a friend introduced Kishan to the sport of fencing in middle school and encouraged him to give it a shot, figuring his lankiness would give him an advantage, Kishan was intrigued to say the least. After taking up a few classes, he was sold. The rest is history. Just ask anybody who knows him they will tell you how devoted Kishan is to fencing.

“Kishan’s been super passionate about fencing for a while — the past six or seven years now. Usually, he practices about two and half hours a day, three days a week, and he’s gone to more national tournaments than I can count. He’s extremely dedicated and just has this drive to do the best he possibly can,” sister Ishani Sood (9) said.

Yet, it was not always this way. Reflecting on the sport now, Kishan confesses that “fencing never came easy for [him].” But despite his early struggles, his ability to look failure in the face and determination was what fueled him to tackle fencing with double the effort, eventually going on to compete in the Junior Olympics each year from 2017 to 2019.

“Everything I start always goes poorly for me in the beginning — fencing included. I lost literally every bout 0-5 … but I was never disheartened by loss. After that, I put in more time to assess my strengths and understand my weaknesses. That’s what I think helped me ultimately improve as a fencer, and also life in general — getting back onto the horse and keep riding no matter how many times I fall off — and I fall off a lot,” Kishan said.

Longtime friend James Pflaging (12) lauds Kishan for his determination even after being faced with near certain failure. He recollects one of his favorite memories teaming up with Kishan in the “Flawless” mode of the player versus player Trials of Osiris, when they were handed their only forgivable loss early in the game.

“In our miracle run, I remember doubting the other [random] person we were playing with, after we spent our free loss early, only having won a couple of the seven required matches. But not Kishan — he refused to give up, instead focusing in, which actually kind of inspired me to elevate my play,” James said. “I thought we would lose for sure, but Kishan just brushed it off and his desire to get back in and win and his skills elevated our [group’s] play to a new level. And, in the end, it paid off, his determination was contagious and helped us secure a win.”

Ultimately, the dedication that Kishan brings to his craft translates over to his life at school. Unlike others, he refuses to let any of his dislikes and biases color his pursuit to learn all that he possibly can as a student.

“I feel like so many people approach school like ‘I want an A’ just because it’ll allow them to climb to the next level in college [where] it’ll be the same thing again. To me, that just seems miserable; I don’t want to do that the rest of my life,” Kishan said. “There was this point in sophomore year during Mr. Hurshman’s poker tournament, where he asked us about [the point] of school — [it’s] to learn — not about any numbers or anything else. And it just resonated with me. That’s what I want to do. I want to learn … [Go] into classes with the mentality to really learn, no matter what grade you get, you’ll come out a better person in life.”

Close friend Ray Wang (12) speaks on how Kishan’s gritty determination and refusal to be bogged down by any one thing is what makes him such a great person to be around.

“Kish and I have been friends for as long as I can remember, so I can say with confidence that he’s one of a kind. He’s a guy who goes all out in everything he does. Kishan joined us in playing CS Go pretty late, but he grinded crazy hard to the point where now he’s the best out of our whole friend group,” Ray said. “Even when we both failed our calc tests, he was the guy who didn’t let it bring him down; instead he joked about how Mr. Silk’s fat curve saved [us].”

At the end of the day, Kishan wants to be remembered for his laidback attitude, but during this pandemic, he’s taken the opportunity to reflect on the way he lives life, and realized where he wants to focus more of his energy towards. 

“One thing that I learned from quarantining at home is how little we really appreciate the moments we have and the beautiful environment around us. I just wanna ride the wave and soak in our surroundings and live in the moment. If someone tells me to jump in a pool with my clothes on, I’ll do it because that’s how I want to be remembered – not as an idiot, but as someone who brought a smile to people’s faces and lived each and every single one of life’s moments,” Kishan said.