Where at Western can you fight with swords, wear a mask and participate in organized combat with other students? Western’s Fencing Club does just that on Mondays and Wednesdays from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m.
The Western Fencing Club is a group of students learning and perfecting the art of fencing, as well as participating and hosting tournaments during the school year. This sports club on campus stands on its own among the other sports clubs on campus like rugby and baseball, said Jake Unzicker, vice president of Western’s Fencing Team.
"We’re a little different than a lot of the other club sports on campus," Unzicker said. "We’re not just a competing team, we do a lot of lessons specifically. The club is very beginner-oriented. In the fall, I think half of the quarter is devoted to trained new fencers."
Unzicker, who started fencing last year, began the training classes in the fall, and was prepared to work on intermediate practices during winter quarter, he said.
Although though the club prefers students to join at the beginning of a quarter, anyone can join at any time. Students joining in the middle of the quarter will still be taught the basics of the sports. But at the beginning of the quarter, more people are joining and can be taught in a group, said Taha Rabbani, president of Western’s Fencing Club.
Something else that sets the fencing club apart from other sports at Western, such as men’s and women’s basketball is that fencing is a club sport, and basketball is a team sport. At Western, there is a group of sports team and a group of sports clubs, and the groups are a bit different from each other.
"Sports clubs are not funded directly by the state. They get a certain amount of money, a state allocation, every year depending on the club, how big it is and everything it involves," said Maggie Rogers, a sports club liaison at Western. "The rest of the money has to be raised by the students, so they have to figure out different types of fundraisers that can take place."
Sports clubs also have to volunteer a certain amount of hours during the quarter, ranging from 150 to 200 hours, depending on the size of the club, Rogers said. These clubs, like fencing, also have to pay dues because they do not receive the same kind of funding by the state. Theses dues cover things like transportation fees, entry into tournaments and housing while traveling.
"It’s interesting because when we talk about other clubs on campus, an example that come to mind is the hockey club," Rabbani said. "They call themselves the hockey team because they’re the only team that Western has that plays hockey. When we introduce ourselves, people don’t normally call us the fencing club, they call us the fencing team anyway."
While the Sports Clubs Office is responsible for helping organize travel, accommodations, filling out paper work and other housekeeping duties, the sports clubs’ members are primarily responsible for how the club runs, Rogers said.
The fencing club at Western started, in its current form, in 2004, Rabbani said. There is a trophy from the 1970s, but there was a period where the club was not meeting. Rabbani had previously fenced in high school, and upon coming to Western, wanted to see what Western’s club had to offer.
"I’m a transfer student, so at my old school that I went to my freshman year, they didn’t have really a big [fencing] club at all," Rabbani explained. "When I came here, I was really surprised at the size of the club."
Western’s fencing club competes against other clubs and individuals in the Pacific Northwest, but Rabbani’s goal for the club this year is to build better relationships with the clubs at other schools in the area. By finding more tournaments and finding more competition for his club and himself, he can help improve everyone’s talents.
"Fencing each other every week is a lot of fun, don’t get me wrong, but it’s always incredibly valuable to fence people that you haven’t fenced before to work on your skill and your technique," Rabbani said.