By Emily Bary ’15
Co-Editor in Chief
Jasmine Davis ’17 had fenced in high school but wasn’t sure that she was going to continue with the sport in college. After talking with her coach and some of the returning fencers, she decided to join the Blue’s fencing squad, even though she later learned that she would have to switch weapons.
Switching weapons was a challenge for Davis, but she’s done nicely after making the move to the sabre squad. At the team’s recent conference meet on Feb. 8, Davis was sick, but still managed to have the most wins on the day for Wellesley. “It kind of validated the effort I’d been putting into improving,” she said.
With just the NCAA regional tournament left on the fencing team’s schedule, Davis is hoping to get better at sabre fencing during her last couple weeks of practices so that she can carry that momentum over to her next three years on the team. She sat down with the Wellesley News to talk about her switch from epée to sabre and her training with the Blue. Excerpts of the conversation follow.
Emily Bary (E.B.): How long have you been fencing?
Jasmine Davis (J.D.): I started sophomore year of high school so it’s my fourth year.
E.B.: Have you always fenced sabre?
J.D.: No, I was put on the sabre squad when I came to Wellesley. Before that, I was epée.
E.B.: How was the switch?
J.D.: I still have days where I can revert back to epée. But it actually hasn’t been bad.
E.B.: Is it normal to have to switch weapons in college?
J.D.: It happens because Wellesley has such a small team and there’s only one returning sabre. All the incoming freshman were epées except for one foil, so we got divided up into new weapons.
E.B.: Did you know you’d have to switch when you came onto the team?
E.B.: What’s the hardest part about fencing?
J.D.: For me, switching weapons was pretty hard because I had to learn how to use different parts of the blade.
E.B.: How is college fencing different than high school fencing?
J.D.: It hasn’t been that different. The only real difference is in the set-up of the tournaments. In high school, I only had two tournaments where we had the same format as the format I’ve had in college, against multiple schools. There are longer days more often.
E.B.: What’s a typical practice like?
J.D.: Warm up, footwork, fencing lessons. It’s very repetitive from day to day but that’s also how you get better in fencing. You do practice different things, but you can’t not practice certain things.
E.B.: What are your goals for the season?
J.D.: To get better. I’ve been really happy with the progress I’ve made in sabre because I didn’t think I’d pick it up as quickly as I did. There are definitely rough spots and I can’t parry well still, so definitely I want to get better at parrying and stopping my counter-attacks.
E.B.: What’s the most misunderstood aspect of fencing?
J.D.: There’s a lot more thought in each movement than people realize. As a spectator, I know it’s very hard to follow what’s happening, and when I talk to my family, they think I just slash at the opponent. Yes, you are making that motion, but you also have to time it and block their attacks.
E.B.: What do you do to get ready before a big meet?
J.D.: I tend to stick headphones in for as long as I can. I warm up with the team, but I also listen to music to pump myself up and get focused. When I do pick up my weapon to warm up, I try to cut back on all my epée movements so I can get down to business.
Davis and her teammates next suit up for the NCAA regional tournament, the last meet of the season for the Blue. It will take place on March 9 at home.