By Nicole Ramsey
The East Field House Gym was packed Saturday morning with devoted fans, supportive coaches and eager fencers dueling it out at their first event of the year. At first sight, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell which fencers were from UCSC because of the sea of white uniforms that every team sported. But just one look at the fencers’ lime green socks and highlighter-yellow shoes might give you a clue as to who’s who in the competition.
“The shoes and the colored socks are a major style thing,” said sophomore Kathryn Kynett, vice president of the fencing club. “Fencers use it to support their school colors—it’s kind of a funny thing that people like to do.”
The sounds of the swords clanking against each other, and the jovial spectators’ cheers were enough to drown out the conversations going on between teammates. UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Cal Poly Pomona and Santa Rosa Junior College were all in attendance at the tournament to participate in various events, including Ã©pÃ©e, foil, saber, and novice foil.
The UCSC fencing club is a Tier 1 collegiate club, and hosts this annual tournament as the first event of the year and as a fundraiser to get their season off to a solid start.
“These tournaments are always stressful to run,” senior Sarah Thomson said. “But it’s always fun to fence in them and people seem to like it. Fencers from other schools even commented on how well it was run.” 	The money generated by the tournament came from fencers paying fees to participate in their individual events. The Slugs even had a bake sale set up at the event in order to gain a little more profits for the club.
“The tournament generates lots of revenue,” Thomson said. “Since we don’t have as much funding, it helps us with our finances and to buy the equipment and other things that we need.”
The tournament is used as an introduction for some of the new fencers, as well as a venue for regulars to practice their fencing techniques. 	Because the Slug fencers face the difficulties of being without a regular coach, they must rely on each other to make sure that everyone does what they need to do as a member of the club.
Although the club’s membership is relatively small, the fencers make the most of the talent they have and continue to build on it. They rely on each other for support and surprisingly, even share a bond with fencers from other schools because of their mutual love of fencing. This keeps it from being overly competitive, and maintains focus on mastering the complexities of the sport.
“Fencing is more than just an athletic sport,” Kynett said. “It’s a mental game.” 	The event seemed more relaxed than most athletic events, which put the fencers’ minds at ease, letting them not worry as much about getting a perfect score while keeping them more interested in being able to participate and hone their skills.
“It’s cool if we do well, and we hope that we do,” senior and club president Andrew Kleinerman said. “But we’re not expecting to win everything. We’re just here to have fun.”