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MACFA C Round Robin 2021 Recap

After a year and a half of COVID-19, the William & Mary fencing team finally returned to collegiate fencing in late November, participating in the MACFA C Round Robin at Haverford. After socially-distanced practices and many tournaments being postponed or cancelled, the team was incredibly excited and grateful to have the opportunity to fence again. Facing off against Haverford, Navy, and Johns Hopkins University, W&M brought six squads in both genders. Each individual squad’s recap is as follows:

Men’s Épée

It was the first collegiate tournament ever for Jake “Merlin” Schapiro ’24, Nolan “Titan” Coughlin ’25, and Henry “Falcon” Hermes ’25 of Men’s Épée, but you wouldn’t know it from the way they fenced at MACFA Crr. With his explosive lunges and relentless pushing, Titan crushed it against four varsity fencers, two from Johns Hopkins and two from Haverford. Falcon, who only began fencing seriously at William and Mary, continued his streak of having won a bout at every tournament he’s ever fenced in, making use of his long reach and long legs. Merlin snagged two varsity wins, both against Haverford, including one that went into priority; employing quick parries and lots of energy, Merlin was able to bring it home for the last WM bout of the tournament. Having acquired lots of experience, Men’s Épée is ready and excited to fence next semester.

Women’s Épée

For the first tournament of the semester, the women’s épée squad consisted of two fencers, Gwyneth “Penne” Smith ‘23 and Katie “Sparrow” Richardson ‘24. This was Sparrow’s first ever collegiate tournament and Penne’s first since early 2020. The two were happy to get back on the strip and grateful for the opportunity to fence after a year of COVID. While Johns Hopkins University proved to be a tough opponent that they struggled against in the first round, both fencers found victories against Navy in the second. In the third, using precise footwork and a well-placed foot touch, Sparrow achieved two varsity wins against Haverford fencers – an amazing accomplishment for her first-ever tournament! Penne didn’t get a varsity win this time around but came close to it, bringing a Haverford fencer to 4-4. They worked well together as a team and are looking forward to competing in more MACFAs in the spring!

Men’s Saber

Men’s Sabre, comprised of Nickolas “Gero” Boylan, Michael “Slate McCoy: Noir Detective” Zessin, and Connor “Lancelot” Cassidy stormed MACFA Crr. At his first collegiate tournament Lancelot earned his first two varsity wins Vs. Haverford and Hopkins making use of his swift box actions and sharp decision making. Slate slid onto the strip and scored many touches, slicing through opponents parries with sensational blade actions, and saucy footwork. Despite an injured ankle, Gero was able to surprise opponents with his sly counter attacks and steadfast parries earning a varsity win against Hopkins. William and Mary men’s sabre learned a lot of great experience at this tournament and are excited for our tournaments next semester.

Women’s Saber

Women’s Saber, comprised of Cassandra “Calypso” Brackett and Clara “Jooniper” Magner, stormed MACFA Crr. At her first tournament, Calypso displayed a lot aggression and solid blade work, but sadly was injured as she was getting into her groove. Jooniper bravely avenged her fallen teammate and finished put the tournament alone, continuing to score against varsity fencers. This was a great learning experience for all and they’re hungry for more tournaments in the next semester.

Men’s Foil

Men’s foil squad, Zahl ‘Kraken’ Azizi, Jeffery ‘Ragnarök’ Gu, and Nick ‘Osiris’ Reeder, stormed Haverford for the first collegiate tournament of the tournament. Ragnarök settled in quickly, stomping across tournament, securing his first Collegiate win and then some. Kraken, smiling through sickness, slew opponents with consistent distance and powerful attacks. Osiris seized his first collegiate win with dramatic feints and precise parries.

Women’s Foil

The women’s foil squad may be made up of only two members but what they lacked in numbers they made up for in heart. Rachel “Tex” Vasan ‘24 and Lucy “Gecko” Kasper ‘24. While alternating between strip coaching/cheering on each other and fencing, both women were active and focused throughout the whole tournament. Tex displayed incredible adaptability throughout the tournament and Gecko used speedy attacks against her opponents. Together the two fenced valiantly against JH, beat the Navy team with just enough wins, and gave Haverford a run for their money with 2 varsity wins from Gecko and excellent fencing from Tex. Both look forward for future events to come!

The team looks forward to the spring, where the tournament season will kick off in full swing! Stay tuned for more recaps and check us out on Facebook and Instagram!

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Senior Sendoff and End of Spring 2021

(Seniors receiving their gifts, from left to right: Morgan “Ghost” Blackwelder, Eva-Mariam “Willow” Ssekibenga, Greg “Twain” Quigg, Cassandra “Kalypso” Brackett, Jennifer “Muse” Chen, and Mary “Prim” Mccants, ’21)

As May draws to a close, it brings with it both the end of William and Mary’s spring semester and the graduation of the Class of 2021 seniors. The spring season for the William and Mary fencing club is also over, and marks the first season in many years in which the team has not attended a single tournament, or even fenced a single bout. However, as vaccinations become more widespread and COVID-19 restrictions ease, it seems as though the team will return to a normal fencing schedule in the fall. At the very least practices will return to their normal schedule, and once travel restrictions are lifted, hopefully the William and Mary fencing team will be on their way to competing again as well!

IMG_2963 (Seniors distributing advice, from left to right: Cassandra “Kalypso” Brackett, Stuart “Zest” Thomas, Greg “Twain” Quigg, and Julianne “Hazel” Cook, ’21)

Right now, though, it is most important to recognize the contributions of the seniors on the team who have now graduated. On the last day of classes, the team gathered together to celebrate our seniors and also the end of the season as a whole. Organized by our social chairs, each senior received a personal gift to thank them for their time on the team. After receiving their gifts, they administered advice to individual members of their squads, before addressing the team as a whole. It was a wonderful senior send-off before moving on to the rigors of exams and graduation, and voting in our new executive board.

To the class of 2021: thank you for the time you have spent with the team! William and Mary fencing wishes you the best of luck in your future endeavors whether in Williamsburg and beyond. And to everyone else reading, whether a member of the team, alumnus, or anyone else: thank you for supporting the William and Mary fencing team throughout one of its most unusual semesters. Admittedly there has not been much content to update this blog with for the past year, but look forward to the fall where we will hopefully be able to resume our normal activities with lots of fencing to follow!

For more information, contact us on Facebook or send us an email at fencingwm@gmail.com!

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Start of spring 2021 semester and team update

As the spring 2021 semester begins and more students begin to return to campus, the William & Mary fencing club is also returning to action! Practices started up this past weekend now that most juniors and sophomores have returned to campus, and both sessions of practice were well-attended. While there have been few changes to team protocol regarding social distancing and mask-wearing, team members are grateful to be able to practice at all and hopeful for the gradual return of tournaments and bouting.

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The fencing team is still practicing every Friday (4 – 5:30pm) and Saturday (2 – 3:30pm) in the basement of Kaplan Arena. And just like last semester, practices are still 45 minutes long and consisting of only eight people at a time. The members of the team have had plenty of time to get used to this new format and are now taking advantage of the time to improve footwork, stamina, and control. The addition of new practice equipment that the team acquired last semester, like the targets, has also made practice easier and more enjoyable. As well as that, the club has also managed to attract new members since the fall who, despite the limitations placed on practices, are eager to learn more about the fencing and become part of the team.

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Ultimately, it is a shame that this update could not be a longer one. Usually the spring would be full of tournaments and travel, and new and old members alike would practice every day to hone their fencing skills. While it is unfortunate that this semester be different, the fencing team is still doing its best to stay as active and close-knit as ever this semester. Small-group social events, bigs and littles, and Zoom calls between current fencers and alumni attempt to fill the gaps left by COVID-19. It is yet another strange semester coming off the heels of a very strange year, but we will do what we can to preserve William & Mary’s fencing community!

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For more information on the William & Mary fencing team, email fencingwm@gmail.com or visit us on Facebook!

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COVID-19 Update and Mid-season Recap

This has certainly been one of the most unusual semesters experienced by the William & Mary fencing team in many years. Normally, this post would be a recap of one of the many tournaments taking place in the fall. However, given that all tournaments are suspended until further notice, it will instead provide an update on how the team has been functioning amidst the pandemic. While this year’s schedule is obviously very different from those past, the William & Mary fencing team has continued to operate to the best of its abilities. The team has gained a number of new recruits with a wide range of experience, and practices are still happening this semester, albeit with new COVID-19 restrictions in place.

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Practices are still held in Kaplan as usual, now taking place every Friday (from 4-5:30pm) and Saturday (2-3:30pm). As the fencing room can only support eight people social distancing at one time, they have been divided into 45-minute sessions in order to allow more members the opportunity to practice. This means that members must sign-up in advance every week, and there are only a limited amount of slots available. As well as that, masks must be worn the duration of practice, and the room must undergo frequent sanitation.

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However, this has yet to deter the team, as new and old members alike continue to show up ready to learn at every practice. In line with new COVID-19 guidelines, bouts are no longer allowed, so practice has adjusted accordingly. The team now focuses more on conditioning and footwork, and getting in shape for the (hopefully) upcoming tournaments next semester. As well as that, the team’s recently-acquired targets have helped fencers with their bladework and point control. Remember, never sacrifice precision and accuracy for speed!

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Though this semester was likely not what anyone had anticipated, the team has done its best to adjust, and the bonds between teammates and the dedication to the sport remain strong. Hopefully the fencing team will return strong next semester with regular practices and tournaments resumed; for now, please enjoy this unconventional recap during unprecedented times!

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For more information about William & Mary fencing team and how we’re operating this semester, contact us at fencingwm@gmail.com or check us out on Facebook!