En garde! Fencing Club is underway


Submitted by Harry Dudley

Junior Jorge Castelan (left) and senior Harry Dudley are the cofounders of Simpson’s fencing club. Their equipment just arrived in early February after forming the club in the spring of 2020.

by Ethan Humble, Staff Reporter

Grab your foils and put on your headgear because the Simpson College fencing club is piercing their way into Hopper Gym soon.

The club was founded in the spring of 2020 by senior Harry Dudley and junior Jorge Castelan, but the rush off-campus when COVID-19 struck put the club on an extended halt.

“We actually ordered the [fencing equipment] last year, but because they are a company based out of [New] Jersey, we could not get our equipment,” Castelan said.

However, the equipment arrived in early February, and the duo has big plans about expanding their club on Simpson’s campus.

“We have 10 suits ranging from size small to extra-large so that two people of similar statures can fence at once,” Dudley said. “We also have the face masks and chest pieces and pants and the whole get-up.”

Associate Professor of Chemistry/Physics Adam Brustkern is the club’s advisor and said he estimated that fencing had requested a budget of around $6,500 from the Student Government Association.

“They [Jorge and Harry] were fairly familiar with requesting money from SGA,” Brustkern said. “The difficult part that people do not quite understand is how we ask access to that money once it has been granted.”

The 11-year professor admitted that he was caught a little off guard when Castelan and Dudley asked him to be the advisor for the club, given his lack of experience in the sport.

“This is all completely new to me. I was surprised when they approached me about it … You wouldn’t think that there would be a ton of interest in fencing,” he said. “But they dug into it a little bit and actually found three or four students on campus that have prior experience, so that is awesome.”

As for the teaching of the sport to new members, Dudley suggested that a connection to Des Moines could help the club hit the ground running.

“The plan is to get the basics taught until we pick up some traction,” Dudley said. “There has been a lot of alumni from Simpson who have been involved in a couple clubs in Des Moines, so the plan is to reach out after some basics have been taught. And then we can start fencing each other.”

As for getting the necessary approval from Simpson, Castelan and Dudley both had positive remarks for the way that they were able to get the group started in a timely manner.

“You request it, and as long as it is within realistic means, they will provide it for you,” Dudley said. “I would say getting a club is very doable here. I have fenced for two weeks of my life, and Jorge has zero experience, but since it was something we were interested in, they let us do it.”

From a faculty standpoint, Brustkern says that the abundance of activities is a big piece of what makes Simpson special.

“Whenever a prospective student comes in, I ask them what they are interested in,” he said. “We’ve got [a club] on campus for just about anything, and if we do not have it and you want to start it, you can do it.”

Keep your eyes open for any further announcements about the fencing club, and do not feel discouraged from a lack of experience; all are welcome.