Fencing at Fox
Reported Jen Wright
There aren’t many places on campus you can go to see a sword fight, but on Wednesday nights in the Hadlock Student Center, there’s one every week.
The Fencing Club was started in 2014 by Connor Thompson and Chris West, and it’s still going strong. Now Laurelle Ramsey runs the club, but she’s only been a member — and a fencer — for two years.
When the club was founded, Thompson and West were just two fencers who wanted to teach other students how to fence and continue fencing themselves.
“We basically had five jackets and masks and no swords, so I was like ‘okay, we’ll get this going’. But I love fencing swords, so I just wanted to see other people get involved in it,” Thompson said.
Now the club has a few boxes of equipment: jackets, plastrons, gloves, masks and a stack of fencing foils.
What started as a two-person club has grown into a great place for students to find friends and community, while also learning how to fight with a sword.
Thompson and Ramsey focus on the basics, teaching proper stance and posture, but they’re not too strict about it:
“We’re trying to create a fun atmosphere, where people learn the martial art and the discipline, too,” Thompson said.
The club is welcoming to fencers of every skill level, and all the regular members started fencing this year, with the club. Erinn Miller joined the club because she already has experience in side-sword fighting, and she wanted to give fencing a try. Brenten Harmon is in the Dungeons and Dragons Club, but joined the Fencing Club a few weeks ago and plans to stick with it until graduation.
“It’s really easy to join in, you just have to stick with it through the difficult start,” Thompson said. “You’re going to look like a dork for the first few times, It doesn’t come naturally. Standing in a straight, board-like fashion, it’s not a natural motion. You really got to be fluid, you just go with it, and once you get through that initial phase of working through it, you’ll see that it’s a ton of fun.”
Ramsey has been teaching other people all throughout her life, so she feels pretty comfortable teaching other students. After learning the basics, she relied on watching YouTube videos to help the club improve. Now, with more club members, she hopes to be able to find a replacement leader before she graduates in 2020.
“I’m enjoying it, and it seems like a lot of people are enjoying it, too. Last, year, we didn’t have very many people coming. And then this year, we put more effort in advertising, and more people have come,” Ramsey said.
For most of the club members, the most valuable aspect of the club is the friendships they build.
“I made a lot of friends in the fencing club, and being an engineer, making friends outside my major is a big thing to do, like, you don’t really unless you try to go to other clubs, and a lot of people that don’t, won’t know others outside their major because they don’t do anything else,” Ramsey said.
Matthew Seegobin just started this semester, and the club provides a fun community for him to belong to.
“Everyone here is so awesome, and so cool,” Seegobin said. “I’ve never met anyone I could just be myself around, in any kind of class setting. Here, I can say all kinds of weird quotes, and just fully express myself. It’s wonderful. The atmosphere is great.”
Seegobin also loves the art of fencing and enjoys how similar to martial arts it is.
“What I like about fencing is that it’s kinda like dancing,” Seegobin said. “Although you can know all the moves, you always put yourself and your personality into it. So everyone fences differently, everyone moves differently.”
Seegobin encourages anyone to join and to not be put off by not having experience in fencing, or even sports in general.
“I joined mid-semester. It’s very easy to pick up,” Seegobin said. “You don’t need to have any athletic training, you could pick it up in two weeks, three at the most.”
The Fencing Club currently has about eight regular members, and they meet every Wednesday night from 8-9 p.m., in Hadlock room 104.