TRAVERSE CITY — En Garde!
Fencers from around the state will wield foils, epees and sabers Saturday in the first local fencing competition hosted by the Three Swords Fencing Club.
The Traverse City-based club has come a long way since its inception three years ago to host a United States Fencing Association-sanctioned competition. The event fulfills a major club vision and organizers hope to hold another competition before fencing season ends early next summer.
"We feel that the clubs share the responsibility of hosting these events and we're happy to be able to do our part," said Doug Schultz, a devoted fencer who helped create the Three Swords Fencing Club. "We thought that we might be able to host a competition last year but we just didn't have the scoring equipment and support."
A competition also is a way to share the sport with the public and build interest in both the sport and the club.
"Our goal foremost is to maintain a membership base that will allow us to keep the club running," Schultz said. "Beyond that we are hoping to branch out into the community and offer more demonstrations and lessons."
The club moved almost 18 months ago into a facility on Cass Road. The space includes a shock-absorbing floor painted with four fencing strips, overhead electronic scoring system, and an armory room to store club equipment.
Club members traveled downstate to participate in tournaments. Saturday's local meet will draw fencers from clubs in Livonia, Howell, Grand Rapids, Saginaw and other downstate cities.
Three Swords Fencing Club member Brad Ochs of Williamsburg hopes to earn a rating during the competition, a reflection of skills he attained. He's also excited to face new opponents.
"It makes you work a little harder," said Ochs, who began fencing a year ago and has traveled to competitions downstate and in Indiana. "Club members, they know your weaknesses and you know theirs."
Emily Lyons, a ninth-grader at Traverse City West Senior High, is eager for the tournament and hopes to learn from her matches. She loves everything about fencing's physical and mental challenges.
"Where else do you get to hit people?" Lyons said, adding, "(fencing) is also very, very strategic and very athletic — it's like chess at 100 miles per hour."
The competition will feature events in the three weapons for seniors — fencers ages 13 and up — as well as youth. Younger fencers can really grow and learn from a competitive event.
"It teaches them to handle the pressure of competition, to trust themselves and use what they've been taught," Schultz said. "Over time this can make them better fencers and get them better results."
Fencing Club hosts first local sanctioned competition
TRAVERSE CITY — En Garde!
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