North Texas Daily

A sneak peek at the UNT club fencing team

A sneak peek at the UNT club fencing team

A sneak peek at the UNT club fencing team
October 26
10:00 2018

The North Texas fencing team is a part of the United States Fencing Association (USFA) and competes at fencing tournaments locally through the organization. Fencing isn’t a vastly popular sport in the U.S., with only 46 NCAA programs.

Despite this, the North Texas team has grown to almost 30 people.

“We have a surprising number of people who have fenced beforehand come in, but we get a lot of people who come in and think fencing and sword fighting sounds cool and are interested,” club president Wyatt Johns said. “We have about 20 to 30 people show up regularly, which is pretty good since we had about 20 last year. We’re steadily growing.”

For Johns, his reason for joining the team initially stems from an old stereotype surrounding new college students.

“I joined the fencing team because [during] my freshman year I heard of the ‘freshman 15,’” Johns said. “I decided I didn’t want to gain [weight], so fencing club sounded like a really cool way to lose those 15 pounds.”

Sophomore Zac Hacker is one of the members with previous fencing experience and has always been intrigued by the sport of fencing simply from visually watching the sport.

“Years ago I saw [a little bit of] fencing on TV and read about it in books,” Hacker said. “From there I was already hooked”

Fencing matches are called bouts and individual bouts are played within tournaments.

Tournaments are separated into two sections: pools and direct eliminations. In a pool, five to six people face off against each other to reach five points. Following this, the winners are separated into direct elimination bouts, which go to 15 and act like a normal bracket. 

One member of the UNT Fencing Club advances on another in a bout during practice. Jordan Collard

For a sport that has been in the Olympics for over 100 years, technique is key to success in bouts. Despite being enacted entirely with the upper body, success stems from the lower body.

“People kind of think it’s just whacking people with swords, but the most important part of fencing is the footwork,” head coach Angela Ferris said. “You have to stand a certain way, move a certain way. You can’t be too heavy with your movements — your upper body has to stay still. You’re just trying to score a point, you’re not actually trying to hurt the other person.”

Hacker expressed a similar sentiment in terms of the technical aspect of the sport.

“It’s really fast-paced, so there [are] things like intense footwork, [and] you have to have a good core because then that changes your inertia and your momentum really quickly,” Hacker said. “You have to have your legs in good shape, of course, to be able to execute the footwork. You have to be quick with your arms, do proper blade-work and be accurate with it as well.”

The Mean Green club fencing team is one of the older organizations at UNT, but for the first time since around 1996, they went to nationals this past season. The team is adding on to last season’s success with one of their individuals earning their “B” at a recent a tournament.

“One person got their ‘B,’ which is the second- highest rating you can get,” Johns said. “‘A’ is your Olympians and top-notch people, so that’s really cool.”

Hacker stressed the fact that fencing requires a strong mental state.

“At the end of the day it’s just you on the strip with your opponent, and if you don’t get a point then that’s on you, and that’s a huge thing to think about,” Hacker said. “It’s a battle everyone has to always be fighting with because it can get discouraging really quick if you let it get to you.”

Hacker had to take time off the sport before heading to UNT due to the overall competitive nature of the game.

“I had to quit for a couple years competitively because [the competition level] got to be too much overall,” Hacker said.

Hacker was waiting for the right opportunity to come back to fencing and saw an excellent opportunity in the North Texas fencing team.

“When I came out here for college and saw that there was a fencing club, I figured this would be a good way to start again,” Hacker said.

Featured Image: Two members cross blades during a match at practice in the Ken Bahnsen Gym. Jordan Collard

About Author

Jacob Solomon

Jacob Solomon

Business student at the University of North Texas and sports writer at the North Texas Daily.

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1 Comment

  1. Tiff, 2016 -2018 President
    Tiff, 2016 -2018 President October 31, 21:36

    A correction: our trip to Summer Nationals this year was not our first in history, but it was the first time we went as a club since circa 1996.

    Reply to this comment

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