Two students laid the groundwork for fencing at Auburn after they got together to form an on-campus club for fencers at all levels of experience.
There are currently two fencing clubs in the area — Auburn Fencing Club, which is located in Opelika, and a fencing club that was already established at the University. Jack Riley Armistead, sophomore in political science, said that when he came to Auburn, he couldn’t get in contact with the club on campus.
“I tried to contact them when I got here and never heard anything back,” he said.
After hearing from his coach that another fencer from Georgia would be attending Auburn, Armistead said he decided to reach out to Jay Parcelewicz, freshman in pre-business, about creating a new organization.
“We were like, ‘All right, we’ll have to do it ourselves, I guess,’” Armistead said.
Parcelewicz is currently serving as the president of the club. He said that he also serves as a coach and captain in order to help keep the other members organized.
“I know it’s a lot, but it will all pay off when Auburn gets its very own recognized fencing club,” Parcelewicz said. “As the coach, Jack and I come up with ideas and drills to teach the sport to beginners while helping the more competitive guys grow in their skills. As the president, I plan leadership meetings and make sure everyone knows what materials they need to bring to practice, and as the captain, I attend tournaments regularly and do my best athletically for the school.”
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Parcelewicz and Armistead both have years of fencing experience. Last year Armistead competed in the AAU Junior Olympic Games, and this year Parcelewicz qualified and will be competing.
“Junior Olympics means a lot to me,” he said. “I’ve been trying to qualify for it since I was a sophomore in high school and never could quite make it. It’s a huge tournament that four hundred fencers from across the nation and world will compete in.”
The club is currently within a provisional period, which will last a year, before it can become an official organization. After meeting certain University requirements, the organization can eventually become a club sport.
While fencing can be an expensive sport, Armistead said that the club has been working with Blue Gauntlet, a fencing company, to lower the cost for some equipment.
“We’ve spoken with Blue Gauntlet and have gotten a 20% discount from them,” he said.
Armistead said that they will also have a small fee at the beginning to help cover the costs of gear for each member and to buy in bulk from fencing companies.
For first-time fencers, Armistead said that they will be teaching them the basics and having them compete against each other.
“It’s just a fun thing to do, even if you don’t want to do it competitively,” he said.
For the future of the club, the two hope to help form a place for people to come together and have a good time, Parcelewicz said.
“Long term, I’d like to make a community of fencers at all skill levels,” he said. “If you’re just starting or seeing fencing for the first time in the newspaper, that’s cool, or if you’ve been doing it for years and years, there’s also a place. I want to make a home where people can go to compete or come just see friends. As time goes on, we’ll get there.”
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