Students find their place on campus in club fencing

Students find their place on campus in club fencing

Veteran fencer Robert Gauper oversees a practice bout between two younger club members.

Football and basketball traditionally garner a lot of attention from students at MU, but those who find interest in an obscure sport also have a special place on campus.

Club sports like fencing give their members a different experience than if they were on a more traditional sports team.

“Fencing is something for people who enjoy playing quirky sports,” club Vice President Lorenzo Mortelli said. “Instead of really being a team, we’re more like a group of enthusiasts.”

Though senior Jordan Freeman joined the club because he was interested in the sport, he “stayed because I had fun doing it; it’s a different and enjoyable experience,” he said.

MU’s club fencing team is a completely student-run organization. It sets up its own competitions and attends any others that it chooses to.

“We’re a loosely run organization,” Mortelli said. “We don’t have a coach so we have to do everything ourselves.”

Not having a coach means that the role of teaching new members falls on the players themselves.

“The more experienced people have to do the coaching,” Freeman said. “Even at the competitions, you’ll rarely see a coach. It’s a very individual sport.”

Because fencing is a less popular sport than many others in America, few members have much prior experience. Usually, newcomers to the team have never played the sport at all. Mortelli, a junior, is one of the few who was introduced to the sport when he was younger.

“The team will take anyone who wants to sign up,” Mortelli said. “There’s a stereotype that it’s more of a wealthy-person sport, but really it’s for everybody.”

Though there is an $80 fee to join for the entire competitive year, members aren’t required to have their own gear. The team can provide it to anyone who needs it, but members can bring their own equipment if they choose to.

Without a strict competition schedule, it is up to the members to choose what competitions to go to and whether or not they wish to participate.

“We try to get to three or four competitions a year,” Mortelli said. “Each member decides if they want to go, and then we all drive there together. Sometimes we even host them here at Mizzou.”

Members compete as individuals rather than as a team at competitions. Sometimes, teammates face off against one another, Freeman said.

“By competing individually, we are able to get everyone involved,” junior Andrew Frein said. “Teams are only limited to a certain amount. By participating individually, everyone gets to compete.”

The club fencing team practices Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8-10 p.m. on the South Basketball Courts at MizzouRec.

Edited by Bennett Durando | bdurando@themaneater.com

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