By Samantha Thompson
If you closed your eyes and walked into a room and heard the swift step of a sudden lunge and the echoing of intense screams after a loud crash of metal, it would sound like you have just walked back into a childhood dream of medieval duels and swashbuckling pirate sword fights. Upon opening your eyes, you would find yourself in the modern day version of that dream come true, but in the much more familiar setting of the East Field House gym. Though you won’t find Captain Jack Sparrow or the Three Musketeers, you will see masked figures, clad in white uniforms, interspersed with brightly colored socks and bearing weapons. These real life duelers are the men and women of the UC Santa Cruz Fencing Club, whose history stretches back decades."In the ’70s, the fencing team was Division III in the NCAA," junior and club Vice President Sarah Thomson explained. "Those were kind of the ‘glory days’ for fencing here."Due to budget cuts, in 1992 the team was cut from Division III and has since remained a campus club that runs mostly on club dues and tournament entry fees. Thanks to the passing of Measure 26 last spring, charging students $4 per quarter, there is now more support backing the fencing club."We are able to buy new equipment and outfit our fencers," Thomson said.Last weekend, the UCSC Fencing Club, as a part of the Northern California Intercollegiate Fencing League (NCIFL), hosted and competed in the first of four tournaments of the year. UCSC placed first in the team foil event along with the team saber event, which are two of the three types of weapons used in fencing, the other being the epee. The club this year consists of about 15 fencers, a few of whom started fencing only a month ago, and are already placing high in tournaments. The club encourages students to come out and give fencing a try.Junior and team president Andrew Kleinerman, who is also a nationally-ranked fencing referee, has significant experience teaching fencing classes and does a lot of the training for the students who come to the club. "You can come without experience or without equipment and just show up," Kleinerman said. "If you commit to us, then we’ll commit to you and train you."Junior Amanda Primes joined the team after taking a fencing class through OPERS last year."We’re really like a family," Primes said."If it’s something that you’ve always wanted to try, then there is no better time like the present to try it out," Primes said. "It’s a fun form of exercise and a great way to stay fit."The fencing club holds practices every week in the East Field House on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and will be defending UCSC’s honor once again at their next tournament in Cal Poly San Luis Obispo Nov. 18. En garde.