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Learn to be a knight with UNB fencing

For those interested in joining a new and exciting sports club at UNB, look no further.

UNB’s fencing club was formed in 1966, and is recognized as one of the longest running clubs of its kind in Canada. Now in its 49th year, the club is introducing new programs along with events designed to bring in new participants.

Melodie Piercey has been involved with the club for the past nine years. While she first joined on a whim during her time as a UNB student, the sport quickly captured her attention and she remains with the team as the coach and equipment manager, focusing on the foil and epee weapons.

“Fencing is a great sport because it’s very technical, and people can really focus on their own individual achievements. For those who don’t really enjoy team sports, that may be something that they’re interested in,” said Piercey.

Along with the numerous health benefits — many members develop increased cardiovascular endurance and muscle development — fencing also helps bring together individuals with similar interests.

“We really concentrate on the social aspect of the club. We have many students come in who aren’t necessarily the best athletes, but they’re ready to try something different and become more active.

“The common goal really is to create a great social atmosphere and we have seen many lifelong friendships develop as a result of this team.”

The club is offering a number of different programs this year.

“The first is a beginners program, which does not require any fencing experience,” explained Piercey. “We cover the basics and go through all three weapons — foil, epee and sabre.”

Following formal training, each participant can then choose which weapon they’d like to practice. At this point, the individual may join the intermediate/advanced program, where they will be introduced to more advanced techniques.

“We focus on the skills necessary to fence competitively. We let the members decide if they’d like to stay recreational, which means competing within the club, or if they’d like to become competitive. If they choose [the competitive] path, we introduce them to the New Brunswick competitive circuit, as well as some tournaments in Nova Scotia and Quebec as well.”

This year, UNB’s fencing club introduced a youth program that focuses primarily on the sabre weapon. The program is aimed at younger fencers who are considering the high-performance route, and allows them to work closely with an experienced coach.

“This allows athletes to really hone in on their skills at a young age in order to develop into strong competitors, specifically at the national and international level.”

The club also offered an open house this Monday to kick off the winter semester. Students were invited to try out the equipment and ask any questions they may have for the coaches and current team members. The club’s doors are always open, though.

“Anyone can drop into any practice,” said Piercey. “We’re happy to show them the basics and it allows them to see what our advanced groups are doing. We have plenty of coaches on hand who can help get them started and ready to join the beginners group.”

Regular practices are held every Monday and Wednesday evening, with the beginners group going from 8 to 9 p.m. and advanced/intermediates practicing from 9 to 10:30 p.m. The group also frequently holds free fencing on Saturdays, which allows individuals to gain more experience against other members. The youth program is also held on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Further details can be found the club’s Facebook page.

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