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Students take a stab at fencing

After a photo of RIT fencers from the 1950s appeared a year ago, The University Magazine received a number of letters from people who remember the glory days for this sport (a few more appear elsewhere on this page).

John T. Horan of Califon, N.J., wrote of the efforts of his son, second-year computer engineering technology major Sean Horan. Sean was on the fencing team at Voorhees High School in Hunterdon County, N.J., where 120 men and women participate in the sport. After arriving at RIT, Horan connected with another fencing enthusiast, Carl Lutzer, assistant professor of mathematics. The two are responsible for starting a fencing club that regularly draws 30 to 40 men and women for Saturday training sessions. Most are beginners, who have the opportunity to work with the three traditional weapons of the sport: saber, épée and foil.

“It’s a wonderful sport,” says Lutzer, who was on the varsity fencing team at Michigan State. “There’s nothing in the world like being chased by somebody with a sword.”

Among the many plusses, according to Lutzer: Agility, endurance, timing, control and finesse are more important than brute strength. Men and women can compete equally (although not in NCAA-sanctioned events). The psychological components of the sport help develop self-confidence, assertiveness and strategic thinking.

At this point, fencing is strictly a club activity at RIT. “It takes time to get good,” says Lutzer, “and students don’t have a lot of time. In spite of that, they’re doing quite well.” It will take some time – possibly several years – to develop a team and acquire the equipment needed to compete in sanctioned matches.

That doesn’t deter the enthusiasm of the students.
“I love it,” says Horan. “Fencing is more of a rush than any other sport I’ve every played.”

Sean Horan, center, shares some pointers during a Saturday session of RIT’s new fencing club.

To the Editors
I am (longtime RIT fencing coach) Harold Florescue’s son and I was so pleased to see the comments in the Fall 2002 edition of the magazine. It brought back numerous happy memories for me as well.

I was born in 1946 and remember many of these people and fencing against them, including in particular Clea Cooper. One person who no one mentioned was named Rochell, I think. I recall having a huge crush on her and being extremely angry when she got married.

For my family, thanks for including the photos and thanks for the memories.

Leonard G. Florescue
New York City

To the Editors
I was a member of the women’s fencing team during the 1951-’52 and the 1952-’53 seasons and I am pictured third from the left in the photo in the Spring 2002 issue of The University Magazine.

Second from the left is Ellie Rulof Chasey ’53, who was my roommate in Kate Gleason Hall. She married Paul Chasey ’52 (photo tech) and now lives in California. The person on the right is Lyn Thiemke. I am not certain who the person on the left is. This photo was taken at the end of the 1953 season, since Ellie and I were not on the 1954 team.

The Fall 2002 issue of the magazine shows letters stating that Barbara Brill may be in this photo. I do not recall her being on the fencing team when I was. The 1954 photo from Techmila (the RIT yearbook) does show her; perhaps that was her first year.

Diana Klepinger Parkes ’54