Story by Rob Curry, Assistant News Editor
UCM’s Fencing Club is halfway through a very active semester.
The club hosted its first tournament in the Student Recreation and Wellness Center Oct. 27 and 28.
The fencing took place in the opened up three-court gym, and competition began at 10 a.m. The club had about 15-20 fencers competing.
The event was open to spectators. Club Vice President Kira Samson said competitors from 10 schools in the Midwestern region were invited.
Club President Chel Hutchison, a position dubbed “dictator for life” by the club, said some fencers attended from schools including Western Illinois University, University of Missouri and Southeast Missouri State University.
The tournament is just one event keeping officers busy as the club ramps up recruiting, social and competitive activities.
Even non-students are welcome to participate in the club. However, non-students do not vote on constitutional measures or club officers.
Former club President Dylan Ashdown, who also works as an Ambassador in UCM Admissions, said he’s noticed a very active freshman class at UCM, and the rise in participation has carried over to the club.
Newcomers are also welcome anytime. “If you show, there will always be someone willing to teach you,” Ashdown said.
Hutchison said, “We’re more involved in doing things together as a group.”
The club has been planning movie watching parties of films with dramatic fencing scenes like “The Princess Bride” and “The Three Musketeers.”
After each practice, Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in Lovinger Gym, they meet at Planet Sub.
“We receive a 10 percent discount for coming as a club,” Hutchison said.
As for practices, the original founder of the UCM Fencing Club, Dusty Brooks, has returned as a fencing instructor.
Returning and senior members also act as instructors, bringing new members up to speed.
“Each year we build on a base of returning members who give new members advice, welcome them into the club, and give lessons,” Samson said.
Brett Faulkner is a student in his first semester at UCM who is a newcomer to the club.
“It’s a pretty good group with knowledgeable teachers. Everyone is super nice,” he said.
Hutchison recruited him when he brought up fencing in casual conversation, not knowing she was involved in a fencing organization.
Hutchison ran through the practice routine: announcements at 7 p.m., kinetic stretching, a game or jog, drills, timed bouts with two lines of rotating partners, one-on-one lessons with Brooks and other experienced fencers, cool down stretches, and then more free fencing.
Psychology professor Ken Carter has been instructing rapier, a heavier classical weapon not used in Olympic-style competitions, with the group for about 4.5 years.
“Fencing is a unique activity. It’s good exercise, but a very controlled exercise,” he said. “It tests stamina, flexibility, strength and intelligence. It can be a very cerebral game if you want it to be.”