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Valley News: Fencing — and Finding — Friends

04/12/2015, 6:00pm CDT
By Aimee Caruso / Valley News

Norwich — As the Selectboard settled in for a meeting in the basement of Tracy Hall, a different sort of bout was underway upstairs, where members of the Upper Valley Fencing Club warmed up with a gleeful game of floor hockey. More and more people trickled in, until almost 20 fencers were ramming around the gym, plastic sticks in hand. By the time the orange tennis ball serving as a puck was scooped up and put away, the players appeared to be truly warm. Some, in fact, were dripping.

A workout, camaraderie, competition — people have all sorts of reasons for joining the club, which meets Monday and Wednesday evenings in the hall. Members range in age from 60-something to 10, although younger children sometime take part. Some are dabblers, while others compete on a local or regional level. The club “pretty routinely” sends fencers to the Junior Olympics, said member Keegan Harris.

Michael Balch belonged to the club in high school, and after graduating from the University of New Hampshire rejoined right away.

“It’s fun, sword fighting, stabbing your friends,” the Hanover resident joked.“It’s a good way to stay active. You make friends.”

Fencing is known for its emphasis on politeness — opponents salute each other before fights and are known to apologize and help one another up after accidental collisions. It’s also a complex sport with an intricate system of rules ... more>

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