Annual alumnae meet brings graduates back to face the current team.
Yasmine Matheson, who graduated from Temple in 1981 and competed for the fencing team, said she still remembers the integrity that coach Nikki Franke instilled into her teams.
Matheson said when the Temple fencing team beat rival Penn State, her teammates decided to take the Nittany Lions’ banner with them. She said they didn’t tell Franke until hours later into the bus ride home.
When Franke found out the team took the opponent’s banner, she turned the bus around so the team could return another team’s property.
“We drove back for like two hours and we had to find a way to get their banner back up on the building,” Matheson said, who found the incident humorous.
“I’m so glad [Franke] nurtured me through college because you realize how naïve you are in college, Matheson added. “One of the things past graduates have in common is that [Franke’s] integrity followed us. No matter what we did it was about integrity.”
Matheson was among approximately 20 other alumnae who came back for the annual fencing alumnae meet held on Jan. 8 in McGonigle Hall.
“[The alumnae meet] is like a family get together,” sophomore epee squad leader Chantal Montrose said.
For some fencers like Kristine Jones, who graduated in 2008 and fenced sabre, not many years had passed since their playing days on the team. Jones has two sisters on the current team as well who are both seniors, Danielle and Krystal Jones who fence foil and epee, respectively.
“I know people love hearing that I was a division I athlete because it just shows that I stuck with something and worked really hard to achieve my goals,” Kristine Jones said. “You learn hard work and dedication take you very far in life.”
Though no team score was kept for the meet, the current players said the alumnae meet helps them to prepare for competition.
“We still have to beat [the alumnae] because [Franke] will make fun of us if we don’t,” foil squad leader and senior Alyssa Lomuscio added. “It’s fun. It’s not necessarily a giant and intense rivalry.”
Despite its relaxed-atmosphere, the alumnae meet can teach the fencers how to put their own techniques in perspective for competitions.
“It’s always good because not a lot of [the alumnae] have been fencing for a while, so consequently their styles are going to be a little different,” Lomuscio said. “It’s always good to fence any level of fencer because it gives you experience. This is a way to get practice against someone who is doing something differently than you would normally see because they fenced years ago and the styles were all different.”
One major change in the sport is the addition of epee and sabre weapons in women’s collegiate events, which occurred in the mid-to-late 1990’s. Clyde Ofner, a former assistant coach from 1981-83, said that fencing has changed a significant amount since his coaching years.
“There are so many differences I don’t even know how many there are,” Ofner said. “I’ve learned that the scoring is different. I’ve also learned that women’s epee and sabre are both electric [scoring], when before even in men’s fencing, sabre was never electric. We always had human judges. You talk about some arguments, fights and yelling.”
Senior and sabre squad leader Kamali Thompson said the alumnae meet also teaches the team how to respect the program’s history.
“I think fencing alumnae is great because fencing styles now are completely different than in the 1970’s, 1980’s and 1990’s,” Thompson said. “It’s great to see what style they had and how they were training back in their day. But it’s also great to see who is still competing because there are a couple of our alumnae who are doing the national circuits.”
After the meet Franke said the current team won.
“We only count the score if the alumnae win and then I can pick on the team all year,” Franke said. “It was just great to see so many of the alumnae and it’s just nice them see each other.”
Connor Showalter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.