While not usually competitive, the SIUE Fencing Club plans on hosting a casual tournament in March where fencers can compete for fun.
Senior David Wickman, a computer science major, has been the president of the Fencing Club since his sophomore year.
“The Fencing Club is a club to learn and enjoy casual fencing,” Wickman said. “We don’t fence competitively.”
Wickman says that if members wish to fence competitively, then they will be supported completely by the club and its members. There are divisions based on location through which members can compete.
“We mainly fence for the fun of it,” Wickman said. “We put up strips to fence on and we just have a round-robin of who fences who. We fence as much as we can in the two hours allotted. If you’re new to fencing, we’ll give you a one to two hour basic training and once you’re aware of that stuff we’ll allow you to come onto the strip.”
Zoe Dilks, a sophomore nutrition and dietetics major, is the vice president of the club and helps coach players alongside Wickman. Both Dilks and Wickman are professionally trained fencers with years of experience.
“Me and [Wickman] have the most organized training,” Dilks said. “We’ve gone to fencing clubs outside of college, and everyone else has been taught by me or [Wickman].”
The Fencing Club experienced a growth in numbers since SIUE’s return to in-person learning. While not every person has stayed, the growth has still given way to a few new members.
“Within the first couple weeks we had 18 new people show up,” Wickman said. “Now we have a steady stream of people who come at least once a week, so we’re doing pretty good.”
Wickman hopes that this may give way to sustainable membership in the future, whether the number of people increase or stay the same since it would allow the club to do more things.
“I’d like to see fencing grow in the metropolitan area, in both the Missouri side and Illinois side, right now there’s not too many clubs around outside of the college clubs,” Wickman said.
The Fencing Club is going to host its first tournament this semester thanks to the Amateur Fencing Association, though they’ve been having trouble finding a space to host it at.
“We were not aware that we couldn’t put tape on the floors in the courts, and the only court we could put tape on is going to be under construction,” Dilks said. “We either need to figure something out for here or rent out the YMCA.”
The tournament is going to be casual, with no rankings and a use of all three fencing blades — the épée, the foil and the saber. The tournament is going to be hosted on a weekend in March either at SIUE or a rented space off-campus.
“I’d really like to have us go to more tournaments,” Dilks said. “We’re getting there already, and I’d like to get people into other weapons. Right now we mainly do épée, and I’ve been getting more people to do foil and I’m hoping to get that to be a more mainstream thing in the club.”
The Fencing Club hosts practices every Thursday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., and every Friday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, David Wickman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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