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Fencing coming to WSSU this fall

By Sheridan Watkins
On April 23, 2014

When discussing collegiate sports, one isn't likely to men­tion fencing; however this fall, Winston-Salem State may welcome its first-ever fencing club.

While fencing, the activity of fighting with swords, is a popular and Olympic sport, it is not in high-demand on campus.

Tashon Little, junior sport management major from Newark, N.J., is aspiring to change that.

Little isn't new to fencing; he was introduced to the sport as a freshman in high school, and remained on the fencing team until he graduated. Little also said he taught others how to fence outside of school, which led him to consider starting a club at WSSU.

"When I was a senior in high school, I wanted to go to a university that had a fenc­ing team because I knew I was good enough," he said.

"But I also wanted to go to an HBCU, so I didn't know of any HBCU, especially in NC. So I felt like I could start one here and it would be easier."

An interest meeting was held on April 2. Little said that he has been working with the Office of Student Activities in to establish the fencing club at the University. However, before the club can become official, Little said he has to gather enough willing partici­pants and organize a budget and constitution. Little said he also mentioned starting a fencing club to the athletic department two years ago; but they weren't "ecstatic" about his proposal.

"I have been talking to my high school coach and oth­ers about it and I am pulling everything together," he said.

According to Little, approxi­mately seven students are committed to being a part of the club.

"After I put it on Instagram, I got some responses and began emailing and texting those interested," Little said.

The club is expected to arrive on campus this call. The estimated cost to fund the club is $3,000, which will cover equipment, jackets and weapons.

Lona D. Cobb, a professor in the mass communications department, is the advisor of the club and said this is the first time she has served as an advisor of a sports club. However this is one sport she has not had much experience with.

"I only know what I have seen but I have an interest in it because it is different," Cobb said.

Cobb said Little asked her to be the advisor because he favors her teaching methods and felt she would be a good fit. However, Cobb said she does not plan to physically participate in the fencing club but will do more research to become familiar with the sport.

"I'm looking forward to working and learning with the members of the club," she said.

One issue Little is facing is that WSSU will have the only fencing club in the CIAA. WSSU will also be the only HBCU in the state to have a fencing club. Regional col­leges that have a fencing team or club include: Virginia Tech, UNC Charlotte, UNC Greensboro, East Carolina University, Duke University, Appalachian State University and neighboring college Wake Forest University.

"Our club has been around for quite a long time. Past the four years I have been here," said Sinthu Ramalingam, President of WFU fencing club.

The WFU fencing club com­petes regionally and partici­pates in annual tournaments, such as the Southern Atlantic Conference.

"It is difficult sometimes for clubs to travel far to compete so anyone nearby we would love to compete with them," she said.

Little said he will teach the sport and have exhibition matches within the team. H.

Josh Maynor, junior clinical laboratory science major from Wallace N.C., is one student that said he is committed to being a part of the club.

"I have always had interest in it [fencing] but I've never had the resources to par­ticipate so I think it would be good for the school to provide that resource to the students," Maynor said.

Little said practices are set to start next semester and he will continue to promote the fencing club via Instagram to recruit potential members for the fall.

Little said he hopes to pro­mote awareness about fencing especially in the Black com­munity, because there are sev­eral minority fencing athletes.

"This could be monumental and once people realize that I think they will be on board."

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