The USF Fencing Club members will be wielding their foils and epees as they host their first competition of the fall semester Saturday in their fifth annual Back to School Duel. Fencers from universities across Florida and the U.S. will clash swords in the North Gym of the USF Campus Recreation Center as they battle in the United States Fencing Association (USFA) sponsored event.
“Back to School Duel, or Octoberfence, is our first tournament of the school year; fencers competing in it will fence either foil, epee or both,” said Ashley Williams a sophomore computer engineering major and president of the Fencing Club. “The two weapons that will be present have different sets of rules but the goal is the same; get enough hits or touches on your opponent to come out on top.”
Williams—going into her second year on the team—is now looking to lead the moderately competitive club to victory in numerous competitions spanning across the year, ranging from three to five home events and around ten away tournaments.
“Our most recent [competitions] after our home tournament will be hosted by UF called Orange and Blue Open,” Williams said. “There will quickly be a team tournament after that hosted by UCF where fencers are no longer just competing for themselves, but as a group.”
As if that isn’t enough of a busy schedule, some just can’t get enough of fencing and want to compete in even more competitions.
“One improvement I would love to see would be to simply increase the quantity of tournaments that we both attend and host,” said Joseph Ellis a sophomore electrical engineering major and treasurer of the Fencing Club. “The best way to improve the enjoyment that each fencer gets from our club is simply just to let them fence more.”
By increasing the activity of the club, which this year includes traveling to universities in not only Florida but also Georgia and Louisiana, Ellis hopes to continue to grow the number of members in the club.
“One of my major goals for the club this year is to make the sport as accessible as possible for new members,” he said. “At the surface level, it is a very intimidating sport with faceless, masked people swinging swords at each other, however, once you get just a little bit past that, you will find one of the most welcoming, encouraging, and jovial communities in the state of Florida.”
It turns out that “people swinging swords at each other,” is exactly why Ellis took up fencing in the first place.
“I was browsing all of the different organizations through BullSync, and when I had hovered over the Fencing Club, I had thought: I bet hitting my friends with swords would be fun,” he said. “As it turned out, hitting my friends with swords is very fun.”
This year, the Fencing Club has added new members such as Genesis Morales, a junior majoring in fine arts, proving it’s never too late to pick up a sword.
“Everyone is nice to new members and makes no one feel bad for not learning fast or not knowing anything,” Morales said. “It’s a great way to meet friends who have similar interests; it’s also a fun workout and free to learn.”
President Williams takes pride in the Fencing Club being welcoming to new members, whatever their ability.
“Everyone of any skill level is welcome,” Williams said. “The fencing club is very open to new members and strives to create the best learning environment we can.”
The Fencing Club will be hosting its competition all day Saturday starting at 8 a.m. in the North Gym of the USF Campus Recreation Center. Attendance is free, so come out to watch and show your support!
For more USF Fencing Club and Sport Clubs information, visit our website!
By Huw Morgan-Baveystock, USF Sport Clubs Marketing Supervisor