The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

    Building a community
    Members of the fencing club parry and thrust at practice on the South Gym // Teri Barth / Staff Photographer / [email protected]

    For most people, trying to understand the sport of fencing and how it works starts and stops with swashbuckling pirates, Broadway acting, or whatever they may see briefly on television or the during the Olympics. Because of its lack of popularity it can make it hard for newcomers to gain an interest and understanding in the sport.

    Members of City College’s fencing club know that, and although the team is very successful in tournament play every semester, the general public’s lack of knowledge about the sport combined with the players’ expenses to participate in it make its growth a challenge.

    A founding member of the club, Jonathan Taylor, computer science major, explained that lack of interest can make it nearly impossible to help the growth of his passion.

    “I can’t tell you how many times, after I tell people that I fence, people think I actually put fences up for houses,” says Taylor with a chuckle. “So spreading the knowledge so that people will come [see
    us] isn’t easy.”

    Despite the challenges, the team members say they remain proud and motivated to achieve individual success as well as to keep the program viable for the future.

    Brian Gillespie, City College biology professor and faculty adviser of the SCC Fencing club since its foundation in 2007, says he has shared his passion and support with the advanced and established
    members of the club, but also heavily encourages newcomers and beginners.

    “The one area that we’ve always been most successful is in the novice division, or people in their first year of fencing because then at least we’re on equal footing with other clubs and universities,” says

    City College competes in tournaments regularly against the likes of UC Davis, Cal Poly, UC Berkeley, and UC Santa Cruz just to name a few, and City College remains the only junior college in the area with a fencing club and competes with the top-ranked schools in Northern California, according to senior members of the club.

    Gillespie says that successful tournament play is also common for City College at these events.

    “To go up against some of these more established programs and universities and to be able to walk away with wins feels good, Gillespie says. “[At] our last tournament last spring at UC Davis, our novices finished first and second, so I’d say we’ve been very successful for such a small program with almost no funding.”
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    Club veteran and founding member Stephen Crane, broadcasting major, and the most-decorated fencer in the club, says he believes a major challenge to fencing is being able to fund yourself with equipment and other necessities, which can be a turn off for some beginners.

    “Fencing is not necessarily the cheapest sport out there, so when we provide some of the equipment to beginners it’s coming out of our pocket,” says Crane. “A lot of people don’t have any previous experience in fencing because it’s not a high school sport and it’s just not very popular, so financially getting the equipment so we can get people [at City College] to do it can be challenging.”

    The club members, amid their successes, say they still have goals for the future, which include hosting a tournament for top colleges and universities in Northern California.

    Jeffrey Kwong, computer science major and founding member, believes hosting a fencing tournament at City College would be great for the sport and the college.

    “Our end goal would be to host tournaments on the intercollegiate level [at City College] for big universities like Davis and Berkeley,” says Kwong. It would show the legitimacy of our sport. It’s an Olympic sport and one of the oldest sports still active, and bringing that attention to the school would bring us legitimacy to the community and our campus.”

    Taylor says that to achieve that goal they would need to raise more money for the program and, hopefully, eventually received aid from the college’s student elected government.

    Being a strong club with longevity means getting that support shouldn’t be out of the question, according to Taylor.

    “Tournaments here would add legitimacy to the surrounding community of City College by bringing outsiders in that may not know about this college,” says Taylor. It would raise funds for the program and the school. We have a lot to go for on this, and we have a lot of support.”

    The City College fencing club most recently competed in its first tournament of the semester at the UCSC 2013 William Nakfoor Memorial Tournament in late October. At the tournament, club president Christopher Guzman earned a silver medal in the Novice Foil division and member Robert Turner tied for a bronze medal in the same division.

    Members Stephen Crane and Jonathan Taylor also finished 14th and 18th respectively in the Mixed Epee division, and Thomas Mitchell finished 11th in the Mixed Novice Foil division.

    For more information on when and where you can see the club in competition, how to get involved with the team, and everything else on the SCC Fencing Club, visit

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