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The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Homegrown culture and emphasis on competition lead club fencing to new heights

Photo by Mikey Severson
Marquette club fencing practices in Humphrey Hall three times a week.

The thrill of fencing is dodging your opponent’s attacks and finding the gap to strike your opponent while adrenaline rushes through your veins during the bout.

Marquette club fencing looks to foster this same feeling in its members through competing and building strong relationships through shared experiences.

The club meets in Humphrey Hall’s practice space on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 6-8 p.m. The club provides protective gear and swords for all its members, but individuals are welcome to purchase their own equipment.

Having lost a fair number of competitors from previous seasons, recruiting new members has been a priority for new coach and Marquette alum, Eric Nassos, who fenced for Marquette’s club during his time as a student.

“The goal has been expansion for years. There was a very large senior class that graduated in 2023, so I think that roughly 80% of the club left in that graduating class,” Nassos said. “That only left a few people, one is traveling overseas to study abroad, a couple are injured. It really hurt our numbers for this semester, but we’re still looking pretty good in terms of how we’re competing.”

Additionally, the intrigue of the sport itself and encouragement from friends led Grace Kay to try her hand at fencing; and she has also appreciated the group’s welcoming atmosphere.

“I thought it was interesting, but my friends actually pushed me to sign up,” Kay, a first-year student in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, said. 

“I’m very close friends with everyone in the group, and they’re basically like family to me. It’s a very tight-knit group and love the community aspect.”

Club president Amaya Ibanez-Baldor said although she enjoys fencing, she also makes it a personal priority to spend time with her teammates outside of practice.

“I got the opportunity of social chair my first year here, I always wanted to be a part of a club that hung out outside of practices. I was able to do that, get my feet wet in different leadership roles, and grow through fencing,” Ibanez-Baldor, a senior in the College of Engineering, said.

Nassos said he hopes the team continues to take the next steps to improve under his watch. With this mission in mind, Nassos had the team join the Midwest Fencing Conference, which consisted of 19 collegiate fencing clubs across the region.

“We’ve already had two that qualified for the conference tournament, we should be getting everybody on the team through that at the next tournament, possibly even nationals this year. If not this year, definitely next season,” Nassos said.

The group has partnered with the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s fencing club to fill certain events come competition day.

“We only field part of the team, we show up with only enough people to fill the men’s and women’s epee event,” Nassos said. 

 “Because there are three events in fencing — ‘epee, foil and sabre’ — we lean on some of the UW-Whitewater team to fill in some of the gaps, especially (in the sabre event),” Nassos said.

The club socializes through team travel to and from tournaments., and especially looks forward to tournaments. as they get to further gel with each other socially. The team drove down to Nashville, Tennessee and stayed in a large Airbnb vacation home for one of last year’s tournaments.

“Tournaments are my favorite part, and the (Nashville trip) was a blast,” Ibanez-Baldor said. “We have five competitions a year for the Midwest Fencing Conference, we travel to different schools and spend one to two nights there.”

Joining the Midwest Fencing Conference has provided an incentive for club members to improve their skills from one competition to the next.

“Through filming our competitions, we physically and numerically see improvement. This has really encouraged people to get better at fencing,” Ibanez-Baldor said.

This article was written by Mikey Severson. He can be reached via email at [email protected] or on Twitter/X @MikeySeversonMU.

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About the Contributor
Mikey Severson
Mikey Severson, Sports Reporter
Mikey Severson is a first year from Saint Charles, Illinois studying journalism and minoring in sports management. He is a Sports Reporter for the Marquette Wire for the 2023-24 school year. At St. Charles East High School, he played football, tennis and managed the boys' basketball team. Outside of the Wire, he enjoys professional football, playing tennis, trying new foods and meeting new people. He is excited to cover Marquette athletics, go to games and interview players & coaches post-game.

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