With 48 years of fencing competition and coaching tucked under his belt, Danvers resident Jack Mullarkey knows talent when he sees it.
Alongside his brothers Ed and Jim, Mullarkey owns and operates the 3MB (Three Mullarkey Brothers) Fencing Club out of Beverly's Waring School, a learning ground for future fencing champions since 2000.
The bladed combat sport has taken Mullarkey and his brothers all over the world. When he was younger, Mullarkey was ranked as one of the best at World and National championships that ranged from Spain to Russia. A champion competitor and coach in foil and epee, there isn't much that Mullarkey hasn't done or seen with fencing.
So when he spied a young Georgetown fencer by the name of Wesley Miles standing out from the pack during a Saturday morning local fencing lesson at Newburyport's Belleville Congregational Church, Mullarkey, like he has done so many times before, put him to the test.
"(Miles) came to me around December of last year through the Newburyport Youth Services program with a couple other small kids, and it's during that time that you look and wonder to see which one out of this group is going to excel," Mullarkey said. "It didn't take long."
The longtime coach offered Miles and his mother, Lisa, the chance to develop his skill set even further at Beverly's 3MB.
"I like how you really have to use your mind and how it's not all about the physical," said Miles. "You need the skill, but you need to be coachable, you need to listen, and you need to have the mental skills to do it."
After some time working with others in the class, Miles soon transitioned to intense private, 20-minute lessons. Mullarkey was impressed.
"The more I pushed him, the more he liked it," said Mullarkey. "He just took to it. He's a natural."