Teaneck’s hometown Olympian Maya Lawrence was met with cheers and hugs from a crowd of fans at a reception in her honor Thursday night.
Lawrence, who captured the bronze medal in epee fencing at the London Games, picked up the sport on a lark when friends convinced her to fence as a student at Teaneck High School.
“Her friends kind of dragged her into it,” said her mother Pat Lawrence, who is also the high school’s fencing coach.
Since her first match in Teaneck, Maya Lawrence has overcome two torn ACLs and grueling training in Paris to reach success at the London Games. Her athletic achievements came after she also earned degrees from Princeton and Columbia.
Pat Lawrence said the school’s fencing team was “ecstatic” over her daughter’s win.
Between congratulatory hugs from friends and supporters, Lawrence called the Olympic experience “unbelievable.”
“The atmosphere was really friendly,” she said. “It was like everyone was rooting for everyone else.”
Thursday’s reception at the Richard Rodda Community Center brought young children and high school students eager to meet the Olympian. Former Teaneck Mayor Paul Ostrow and State Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg were on hand to present Maya Lawrence with official proclamations.
Through her international achievement, Lawrence told the crowd she was proud to be back in Teaneck to share her experiences.
“I’m very proud of the fact that she went to Teaneck High School,” said Councilman Henry Pruitt, a former school board member. “In terms of being a role model for the kids, she’s got it all.”