Big One Puts Smith Fencers On Guard
Phoebe Camilletti ’11, President,
It’s fondly known as “the Big
Each fall hundreds of fencers
from all over New England mingle excitedly in the flag-spangled
walls of Smith’s Indoor Track and Tennis (ITT) facility to
test their cunning with variation, their skill with resolve,
and their wits with steel. The energy fizzes as foils are
crossed. One step inside the ITT makes it clear: this is
something you don’t see every day.
Smith’s annual fencing tournament,
which takes place this year on Saturday, Nov. 7, has been a staple in the New
England fencing community for more than 20 years. The Big One, an annual source
of great anticipation among participating fencers and fans of fencing, is one
of the first large and legitimately competitive events of the early collegiate
The sport of fencing can be
difficult to comprehend for those not acquainted with the
sport. Sport or Olympic fencing, which is the type studied
in the intercollegiate setting, contains three subsets of
fencing: foil, sabre, and epee. There are different schools
of thought for each, but basic fencing concepts apply to
Fencing is like no other sport.
Some love it for the sense of personal rigor it demands;
though as a fencer you’re competing against others, you’re
also competing with yourself. Smith fencers appreciate it for the leadership
skills and teaching experiences it affords.
“Fencing is a contest of minds,” says Smith fencer Miriam Roberts ’10.
team member Emily Willette ’13 agrees. “You can use your brain to beat someone
who’s athletically much stronger.”
Smith fencers enjoy the Big
One because of the wide range of abilities represented, explained
fencer Lauren Johnson ’11. Roberts likes the individual format, a contrast
to many intercollegiate events, which emphasize team competition.
The Big One
is of particular significance to the Smith team. It was in
fall 1997 that the Smith team first volunteered to host the
annual tournament. Following its resounding success as hosts,
the team was asked to host again the next year—and every year
Smith’s hosting of the Big One helped establish the team, which was just
starting when it assumed its annual role as host. The team has since become a
prominent presence in the New England fencing scene. After hosting the Big One,
Smith fencers have been invited to compete in other events and to join the New
England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference (NEIFC).
The Big One has become a
valued tradition for the Smith fencing team. Fencers create
banners, coordinate volunteer efforts, set up tournament
equipment, and coordinate the tournament’s
layout on the ITT floor. The team also designs t-shirts, for sale at the tournament.
This year’s design, by Faith Unterseher ’11, is a Woodstock-inspired illustration
on brightly-hued tie-dye shirts.
To see what fencing is all about,
stop by the ITT on Saturday, Nov. 7, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and
experience the Big One.