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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Women’s fencing prepares for upcoming season

Published: October 8, 2010
Section: Sports

PHOTO BY Andrew Rauner/The Hoot

As Brandeis’ women’s fencing team begins training, the teammates can look forward to the upcoming season while emulating their successful past season. Last year, the women’s fencing team went undefeated at the Northeast Conference for the second consecutive year as they swept away teams from six surrounding colleges, including Boston University, MIT and Wellesley.

Although most sport teams at Brandeis are Division III, both the men’s and women’s fencing team are Division I, based on how well they compete with other Division I schools.

However, it is not just the women’s fencing team’s habit for victory that keeps the teammates so proud to be members of Brandeis fencing. Rather, the tight-knit group dynamics give teammates a feeling of support and belonging in what is meant to be an individual sport.

Kayla Cronin ’11, who has been fencing since high school, transferred to Brandeis as a junior and was quickly given a warm welcome to the fencing team.

“Because I was a transfer, the fact that they were so open and friendly made me feel like part of the team from the beginning. It really helped me transition to Brandeis well,” Cronin said.

At competitions, teammates find a level of support that each fencer finds especially encouraging. Because fencers go against each other one-on-one during bouts, fencing is considered an individual sport. However, due to the high level of cheering coming from one’s teammates, there is no feeling of solitude.

“At times it is stressful to face your opposing fencer, but you always have your team behind you for both advice and moral support,” said Ariel Gomberg ’13.

The bond that Brandeis fencers share extends off the courts as well. Teammates express a feeling of camaraderie and sometimes organize team dinners and other get-togethers. Vikki Nunley ’13 likened the fencing team to a family and said, “I trust my teammates completely for support and friendship, and everyone really pulls together to put in more and more effort as the season progresses.”

Being on the fencing team has also given teammates more than the average sports experience. They now have an insider’s perspective on stage combat, which enables them to spot the unrealistic aspects found in many sword-fighting scenes in Hollywood movies that an untrained eye would not be able to catch.

“The sword fighting you see in movies, such as even in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,’ is mostly not actual fencing. There are a lot of big sweeping motions that look cool but aren’t effective in a fencing match. For example, when you see someone making a parry (blocking an opponent’s attack) behind their back, in an actual fencing bout they would just get hit,” Cronin said.

With the success of the past season and the insider’s view on real fencing, this year’s women’s fencing team is looking forward to this season.

“It’s really nice to do what you love with people you enjoy being with,” Emily Mandel ’12 said.

The team is also looking forward to the chance for self-improvement as they prepare to continue Brandeis’ women’s fencing team’s good reputation as both a team that went undefeated at its conference two years in a row and as a team that shows its respect for each other and others. The uniqueness of the sport and the high level of support and bonding are both reasons that contribute to why the fencing team takes pride in being part of Brandeis Athletics.