by Dave Boehler
Beacon Sports Editor
I was unaware Neil Diamond, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tom Cruise and Theodore Roosevelt were fencers.
I didn’t know North senior Caleb Scherg fenced either, or that there was a Sheboygan Fencing Club that meets every Sunday for two hours.
“Because it’s not really something you hear in mainstream media, like basketball, soccer or football or anything like that,” he said. “It’s more of an under-the-radar sport.”
Scherg heard about the fencing club from some friends at school and tried it after his parents got a better understanding of the sport by talking to the coach.
“I just kind of gave it a shot and figured it wouldn’t hurt,” he said. “But when I came, I actually really enjoyed it. It was kind of a new way to play sports that I hadn’t really even tried.”
Scherg is in his second year of fencing because he feels like it sharpens his senses and is a good sport for physical and mental activity.
“People say that chess is like a mental sport; fencing is a physical and mental sport,” he said.
Gregory Allen runs the club and calls fencing ‘physical chess.’
“You need to be able to hone not just your physical body but your mental skills to think several steps ahead in preparation for your attacks and their attacks, and your counter-attacks to their attacks, and so on and so forth,” Allen said. “It’s a lot of ‘well, if they do this, I have to do that. But if they do that to I’m doing this, then I have to keep thinking ahead’ to be able to move your body in and out of combat.”
Allen grew up in Chicago, competed on the fencing team at Cleveland State University and moved to Sheboygan almost eight years ago.
He was doing his job at a grocery store when one of the regular customers told him their child was in the club but was upset because the coach was retiring.
Allen suggested he take over since he has a fencing background. He met the former coach and has been running the club since August of 2019.
“You can learn a lot about yourselves by challenging yourself and challenging your opponents, and that’s where a lot of the growth comes from,” Allen said.
And here I thought it was just two people swinging a sword around.
“Oh gosh, no,” Allen said. “And it happens too quick for that. If you go for a bat swing, you’re probably already hit.”
There were eight people in the club but the pandemic has reduced the current number to four. And they now meet at a gazebo in Vollrath Park because the church they use is no longer allowing outside groups.
The club is looking for a place to keep fencing in the winter, so anyone with suggestions – or those wanting to join them – should visit http://www.sheboyganfencing.wixsite.com. It also has a Facebook page.
• It is one of four sports to be included in every modern Olympics and goes back to as early as 1200 A.D.
• The tip of the weapon is the second-fastest moving object in sport after the marksman’s bullet.
• Fencing suits are white because in earlier times, touching was recorded with a piece of cotton dripped in ink at the tip of the weapon.
• There was originally no time limit on a bout until a Masters Championship in New York in the 1930s lasted for seven hours.