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September 21, 2023

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Fencing club on point

Belonging to a club for a combat sport involving sword fighting may seem intimidating to many people, but not to sophomore Ali Fisher.

“It sounds kind of like a weird sport but there’s a great group of people there,” Fisher said.

Fisher and a few other club members are getting ready to compete in the first ever Midwest Fencing Conference to be hosted by the University on Feb. 9, she said.

The team will be competing against other college fencing teams such as Case Western Reserve University and Xavier University in the Union Multipurpose room.

To decide who gets to compete in the tournament, the club has a little tournament of its own between its members, Fisher said.

“We have a fence-off two weeks prior to the tournament,” she said.

There is a woman’s team and a men’s team, Fisher said, and three different weapon groups: foil, sabre and épée.

“The top four people from each weapon who have scored the highest will go on to the tournament,” she said.

Each weapon has different weights and rules, Fisher added.

Fisher, who belongs to the women’s foil team, said she is looking forward to the upcoming tournament.

“This will be my seventh,” she said, “The more you fence, the more you experience techniques and sometimes you learn something new and take it back to the club.”

Fisher joined the University’s fencing club during Campus Fest as a freshman, looking for something to do to occupy her time.

What she found was a group of students who enjoyed each other’s company and sense of competition, she said.

The team will be competing for the University instead of on an individual level, said senior Andy Vernacchia.

Vernacchia, who also joined the club as a freshman, said he considers fencing to be a good way to deal with stress.

“Personally, and especially this past year, I’ve been doing less academic work and making more art projects, which can be stressful,” he said. “Fencing kind of helps me stay sane. It’s a place where I can go to blow off some steam and exercise, but also where I know I have friends who are just as fun or quirky as I am.”

Vernacchia will not be competing during this tournament in order to allow less experienced members the opportunity to compete.

While he’s not sure if the winner will receive a trophy or medal, Vernacchia said the winner can enjoy seeing their win in the official record of wins and losses as well as having “bragging rights.”

Robert Stepp, treasurer for the fencing club, said the club is always looking for new people to join, including those with little to no fencing knowledge.

“We’d love to see more people come to our practices,” he said. “We like teaching new members the basics – how things work and what to do.”

Stepp said students are welcome to come and watch the tournament for free to get a feel of the club.

“We have that competitiveness, which is a good, healthy thing to have, but it’s also a laid back, fun thing,” he said. “It’s a bunch of fun.”

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