On the upstairs floor of the Robertson Gym, one can hear the clanking of metal, the screeching of the floors, and the squeals of a buzzer machine. Here one can find the UCSB Club Fencing team training for their upcoming competition.
In late February, UCSB Club Fencing made history by winning overall in both the women’s and men’s fencing competitions at The Intercollegiate Fencing Conference of Southern California at CalTech. According to team members, this win was not an easy road, and it took years of training and dedication to finally get skilled enough for the whole team to win.
This burden was carried by seniors, who took up the role of mentors and morale leaders to lead their team to victory. Captain Emily Olander, who peers predicted to win by senior year, has fulfilled her prophecy with her team being in first place for Women’s Saber.
“I think it was just the fact that it was my final year and that I wanted to make it count,” she said. “I wanted to show that its been 30 years since we’ve done something where the whole team has worked together like this and gotten first place in both Men’s and Women’s.”
UCSB Club Fencing has been in existence since 1935. This is the first time in the history of UCSB Fencing where the team won first place overall.
Olander, a fourth year biology major, can be found mentoring her fellow saber fencers in technique and footwork while also cheering them on as a teammate and friend. Her dedication to this team stems from her start during her freshman year at UCSB as she became experienced with all three fencing techniques: saber, foil and epee.
“I want this to be what I and my fellow seniors leave behind and I want it to be what the future people of the team have to look forward to because now it’s a more doable goal and they can keep it going.” said Olander.
Both teams placed first in Women’s Overall, Men’s Overall, Men’s Saber, Women’s Saber, Women’s Foil and placing third in Men’s Foil, Women’s Epee and Men’s Epee.
Coach Tim Robinson has seen how far this team has gone from when he joined himself during his freshman year at UCSB in 1995. Robinson told The Bottom Line that he became head coach in 2006.
“We were undefeated as a team,” he said in excitement. “Overall, our women’s saber won by a few bouts points and women’s foil won by one total victory.”
The team has a total of 20 people who were carefully selected, with three to four people in each women’s and men’s team of Epee, Foil and Saber.
“There was a lot into the making,” said Robinson. “This year the students came in with little practice of fencing but with the help of the seniors and Athletic Performance Center they were able to narrowly beat UCI during the conference.”
George Fuller, a fourth year College of Creative Studies Physics major who is part of the Men’s Eppe team, took first place at the competition. “I just put in a lot of work, especially at the Athletic Performance Center,” Fuller said.
The Athletic Performance Center is a gym made for sports teams to schedule in their daily hours of fitness. Fencing requires the work of an entire body.
“Just fencing enough would not help exercise the necessary muscles that is needed to fence.” Fuller explained. “What really helped us win this season was having a dedicated program and scheduled hours in the APC, I think that’s something we’ve only had since fall quarter this year and it has made a significant improvement over the fencers as a whole.”
The next competition will be in Lansing, Michigan from April 8-9 for the USACFC College Fencing National Championships.
“We just had that sweet spot this year where there were enough people with experience to take a cadre of inexperienced people and bringing them up to the right level,” Robinson said. “If we have the right practices in place we can continue this trend.”