En Garde! The low-down on LU fencing, part three

Jenny Angeli

In preparation for their upcoming meet at Notre Dame this weekend, the Lawrence University fencing team has been working harder than ever. Last week I talked to the new members of the team about their LU fencing experience. This week I got the chance to talk to two senior members of the fencing team, Madeline Cooper and Caitee Hoglund.

Both Cooper and Hoglund have unique experiences when it comes to their years of fencing. Cooper started fencing in the ninth grade but did not begin to compete until later in her high school years. She transferred to Lawrence her sophomore year and joined the fencing team when she arrived.

Hoglund, on the other hand, did a few fencing camps at Northwestern to learn the basics. She did not seriously begin to fence until she came to Lawrence and joined the team her freshman year.

When asked what they thought was the most important skill a fencer needs to succeed, again both had different responses. Cooper stated, “I think fencers need to have a lot of patience, both on and off the strip. In practice you really need to realize that you are not going to develop new skills quickly. Often fencing feels really awkward at first. You also have to be willing to practice a new skill many times before you start successfully getting touches with it. During bouts I have to remind myself that even though fencing is a fast-paced sport, I have the time I need to make decisions and use good technique.”

Hoglund believes fencers need to be able to take corrections. She stated, “If you can understand what you need to change about your fencing, and really apply those changes to how you perform in a bout, you will be able to adapt to all the different fencing styles you encounter during competition.”

I also asked Cooper and Hoglund what it is like to compete at a Division I level, since Lawrence otherwise competes at the NCAA Division III level. Both fencers think it is a wonderful opportunity to have fenced against Olympic medalists and World Cup team members!

Cooper and Hoglund agree it is a rewarding feeling to be able to compete against some of the best fencers in the country. Not only do they get to fence against these talented competitors, but they also get to watch them compete against each other and pick up on techniques to help enhance their own skills.

Finally, the question I was most eager to ask: What has fencing added to your life at LU? Hoglund responded by stating, “Fencing at Lawrence has given me the opportunity to develop a new athletic interest, as well as the chance to be a part of a team. The fencing team has grown and changed a lot during my four years here, and it’s been great to play a role in the team’s evolution. The fencing team has definitely become my support group here at Lawrence, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to learn and compete with some really great people.”

Cooper shared similar feelings on the matter and responded, “The fencing team here is a great group of people. I have close friends on the team, so even when we’re not in season we do homework together and hang out. Fencing is a really fun way to stay physically active, and the whole team is really positive and enthusiastic. I’m so excited to compete with them this tournament season.”

We wish both Cooper and Hoglund, along with their fellow teammates, luck as they head to Indiana to compete this weekend!