When you think of Trinity University athletics, what comes to mind first?  Maybe soccer or basketball, tennis or even track and field. Whatever it is, it probably is not fencing, although a group of Trinity students is currently working to change that.

The fencing club aims to give students the ability to practice and develop their fencing skills on a regular basis.  While the club is not necessarily instructional, some of the more experienced fencers are more than willing to work with students who want to learn.

“Our primary purpose as a club is to just provide a place for people to practice their skills,” said sophomore Collin Gillespie. “We’re not really educational in the sense that we aren’t ‘Come here and we’ll teach you how to fence’ so much, but we can do that individual to individual and then at our open fencing events, which we try to host one or two of per semester.”

“Typically, you would come here, get your equipment, which we provide, and you can come and practice, if you’re new with one of the more experienced fencers so they can give you tips. And that’s about it. You just come and you bout for however long you like,” Gillespie said.

Gillespie, who is also one of the founders of the fencing club, primarily fences sabre, one of the more popular fencing swords due to the fact that it is, debatably, the coolest. Somewhat popularized by Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first ever Muslim-American woman to wear a hijab in the Olympics, the sabre differs from it siblings foil and epee in the fact that it is the only sword the user can slash.

“I tend to like sabre more,” first-year Sebastian Pretio said, who took up fencing when he arrived at Trinity through the fitness education class. “It feels more fluid, and really feels like what you would do if you had an actual sword. With epee and foil, you’re restricted while with sabre you can can make thrusts but you can also slash.”

“I’ve been fencing for eight years now and I just really love it,” first-year Ben DeBauge said. “I do sabre mostly and it’s just a lot more fun, mostly because you actually get to slash people.”

Beyond just the obvious ‘Wow, cool!’ aspect of fencing, there are some actual serious benefits to taking up the sport.  Not only does fencing engage multiple sets of muscles at the same time, leading to a great cardiovascular workout, but over the years it has gained the nickname of “physical chess,” for the sport’s ability to be just as mentally engaging as physically. (Note: that may be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever written). The sport requires the player to be constantly “en garde” for their opponents attacks and blocks, and has been shown to aid in maintaining or augmenting mental sharpness.

“It’s a great outlet and workout,” Pretio said. “I feel my legs getting stronger from all the footwork, and with everything being so busy at Trinity as it is, it’s a good way to just kind of  let off some extra steam.”

The fencing club meets every Saturday at 1 p.m. in Webster Gym, and anyone who is interested in fencing is encouraged to come out and give it a try.