“On guard. Ready. Fence.”
With that cue, Logan Smith ‘16 and Ryan Morris ‘18 spring forward and clash swords. In less than a minute the electronic scoring machine beeps, signaling that contact has been made. Jiayi Lu ‘19, the director for the match, awards the point to Smith. The bout is over within minutes, with Smith winning 5-1.
Smith and Morris are the president and treasurer, respectively, of the Denison Fencing Club.
“It’s the second fastest sport in the world behind shooting,” Smith said. The scoring is done electronically because of the speed of the sport. The director uses the machine as a guide and decides which fencer should win the point. The first person to five wins.
The team is coached by Peter Grandbois, an English professor. Grandbois has won numerous fencing awards, including the gold medal in the 50-59 age group for foil at the 2014 USA Fencing National Championships.
“My favorite part is fencing with Coach because it’s very nice to have someone who can consistently and regularly beat me quite handily,” said George Malloch-Brown ‘19, a member of the team, who recently went to the Junior Olympics qualifiers.
Malloch-Brown explained that he started fencing because of his dad’s bedtime stories.
“I was the main character, and I always won by swordfighting people. And one day I was like ‘Hey Dad, could I do that in real life?’ He was like ‘you know, what? You can. I’ve got just the sport for you.’ Then we found a fencing academy near where we lived. Now I’ve been doing it since I was eight.”
Other members join the team with no experience. Cesar Barraza ‘19 began fencing at the start of the school year.
“There are a lot of friendly people who are really happy to show you the ropes,” he said.
The team eats meals together and hangs out after practice. “A lot of the guys honestly just clicked,” said Smith.
In addition to meeting interesting people and making good friends, Morris said fencing is an adrenaline rush. “Your brain shuts off and you fly on instinct – it’s a lot of fun.”
The Fencing Club meets Sundays from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Mondays 5:00 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. and Fridays 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.