The screech of clashing metal can be heard most Sunday afternoons and Wednesday nights inside the Pepsico Center as the fencing club practices hard for their tournaments throughout the year.
Drew Mayu Oya, senior and fencing club president, was watching the professionals perform at the Olympics the summer before her freshman year.
“I’ve never fenced before coming here [Augustana],” said Oya. “Over the summer, I was watching the Olympics, and I saw the fencing. I thought that was really interesting and unique. It’s something I’ve never considered myself [doing] because we never had it at my high school and I never really knew about it, not many people did it.”
Since then, Oya has remained in the club and is happy to see the growth the club has seen throughout the years she has been here at Augustana.
“It’s something that has been really small in previous years, and this year we’ve gotten a lot more freshmen which is great because we need more fencers so that we can keep this up along their college years.” Oya said.
Fencing Club holds practice every Sunday and Wednesday in PepsiCo for four hours a week. The executive board with four students are in charge of helping new fencers learn techniques.
The executive board is comprised of Oya as well as Vice President Zachary Cook, Treasurer Alina Lundholm, and Secretary Katie Laschansky.
First-year Marley DeVoss is one of the new club members who found out about fencing through the Sports Fair and has enjoyed her experience so far.
“I came the first day kind of nervous because I didn’t know anyone and I’ve never fenced before,” said Devoss. “I was really scared to come in with all of these experienced fencers and be awful. When I got here, so many people didn’t know how to fence either. They’re super nice and super cool.”
Oya, wants to get the newcomers to love fencing as much as she does.
“This is the first year for most fencers here,” said Oya. “We basically start them off with teaching them the very basics like engard and advance and retreating, your stance and your movements. From there, we teach them more basic techniques especially the hand and the weapon.”
Sometimes the club hosts informal tournaments with schools interested in the area to practice for the big tournaments.
“We usually like to invite other schools from around here for example, Knox College, to have them come and do an informal tournament.” said Oya, “We’re hoping to get the first year students to see what a tournament is like, how long the bouts are, and to really get them to see what fencing is like.”
Until their next tournament in January, the club will be practicing and sharpening their skills.