Club sports: fencing seeks newcomers for expansion
Stress relief with weapons — that’s Carnegie Mellon’s fencing team. After forming in the early ‘90s, the club’s size has fluctuated between a few members and dozens. With about 30 students as of this year, the club attempted to start expanding their impact on their member’s lives and return the club to the glory it was considered to have been in ten years ago.
Fencing is exactly as it sounds — members try to hit each other with swords. Still, there are very distinct parameters fencers stay within: they chose weapons and respect the right of way, or the system for determining how points are awarded. The weapons players can choose to specialize in include foil, sabre, and epee. Currently, epee, the weapon with the fewest rules, is the most popular in the club, but members can spend their entire time in the club without choosing a weapon.
“We don’t really have too much of a structure when it comes to choosing a weapon. The objective is to come here and have fun and that’s what we try to foster,” said senior business major and president of the club Alexander Yu.
The club is always welcoming to new members and emphasizes the ‘fun’ aspect of the club as opposed to competition. One of the ways they are doing this is through altering practices to focus on the connections between players rather than just fencing; for example, on Saturday, Oct. 28 they hosted a fencing competitions among club members in place of their regularly scheduled practice. Additionally, the club reinforces the idea that fencing is focused on providing students with an outlet to relieve stress through keeping their dues low — $50 per year — and requiring neither attendance to competitions nor a set number of practices each semester.
“We’re not trying to be one of those teams that really relies on stressing you out and you having to perform well. You can perform as well as you want to; if you want to perform like garbage, that’s okay,” said Yu.
For competitions the team will travel together. The cost of these events is covered in a fencer’s dues and allows them to participate in team and collegiate competitions with their peers. The only time a fencer would have to cover their own entry fee is if they were to participate in a competition which the club is not attending together. The club also has about two scrimmages per semester with the University of Pittsburgh fencing team, as well. There is no skill level required to attend any of these events.
“Fencing, and sports in general, are just really good stress relievers. Everyone sort of needs an outlet. If you’re having a bad day, you get to literally stab people and it’s okay,” said fifth-year architecture major and vice president Annabelle Swain.
Currently, the club is trying to once again host more USA Fencing (USFA) sanctioned events at Carnegie Mellon. Until then, they will focus on planning the annual Grail event — the largest fencing competition in the Pittsburgh area which allows fencers of any age or skill level to participate.
How can one get involved? Just show up, according to Swain. Practices are Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Skibo Gym Arena; all gear will be provided so wear athletic clothing and be ready to train.
“New people should not be afraid to reach out. While you can at Carnegie Mellon or while you’re an underclassman just take the time to explore the clubs before you get super busy. It’s just a great time to explore your interests; I think that’s really helped me a lot throughout my time here at Carnegie Mellon,” said Yu.
The team can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org for questions or for those interested in joining.