GymHop: Columbia Masters the Finest of Sports
Written by Bwog Staff
Bwog daily editor Mariela Quintana floats into the surprisingly happy go lucky world of Ivy League fencing.
The Columbia Fencing team did not carry themselves with the athletic aggression that one would expect at their final competition of the season. The mood Wednesday evening at Dodge Fitness Center evoked memories of the indoor soccer tournaments of my youth, where gossiping with the girls on my team was as important as our competition. Family and friends of the athletes comprised the majority of the audience. Fencing Moms chatted and younger siblings ran around, begging for attention from the fencers. The social atmosphere carried over to the athletes, who munched on Goldfish and joked with spectators between bouts. Had I only known about the informal milieu that fencing offers, perhaps I would not have given up on organized athletics.
In the eyes of a novice sports spectator, the appearance of the fencing team did not reflect that of a typical organized sports team. They lacked a team’s most defining feature: its uniform. To my disappointment, there are no baby blue swooshes to unify the Columbia squad. As opposed to the matching maroon tracksuits of the Vassar squad, the Columbia fencers opt for a more subtle form of showmanship – a pair of knee-high socks, one white and one baby blue.
Unlike the lanky rowers of the lightweight crew team or solid, square-shouldered wrestlers, fencers cannot be categorized by a general body type. Furthermore, the team members all hail from different areas of the country, some from east-coast prep schools, others from New York City public schools and still others from places as outlandish as Hong Kong and even Texas.
As I was reflecting on the success I might have had as a fencer, I suddenly heard a loud bark and out of the corner of my eye I glimpsed a flash of metal surge into the air – it was the petite Issac Kim, CC ’08, triumphing over his adversary from Sacred Heart University. Kim proudly grabbed at his mask and let out another roar to exhilarate him for the next bout in the set.
Although Kim’s aggressive performance did not match the laid back attitude of his team between rounds, the more I watched the Columbia fencers compete the more apparent their drive to dominate became.
This year, the Lions’ determination to dominate has proven successful. Both the Men and Women’s fencing team has gone undefeated this year. To add to their prestige, both teams claimed the all-Ivy Title at last weekend’s tournament in Princeton.
I overheard two spectators intensely debating the merits of the NYU and Columbia teams. Although the two could not come to terms on which team was better, they equally acknowledged that “New York fencing teams are guaranteed to be number one.” When I mentioned this to a pair of sophomore on the women’s team, they laughed and said NYU was no competition.
Who needs matching uniforms and formal pre-game warm-ups, when the toughest adversary can be dispelled with a laugh? Some teams, but certainly not the impressive Columbia fencing team.