Story by Taylor Main
Photo by Lucas Taggart
Sports are a staple at most schools. When most people think of sports, football, basketball and soccer probably come to mind among a few others. But what about fencing, breakdancing or archery?
These are lesser-known sports, but JMU offers them all. They’re also welcoming clubs that accept people with no experience or knowledge of the sport. Joining a club sport can be a great way to step out of your comfort zone, find a group of awesome people and maybe find a new talent.
It might not be as popular as football, but it’s definitely a fun club to be a part of. For Liam Barrett, the 2014-2015 club president, fencing has been a place where he’s met his best friends. “We may be a sports team, but that’s second. First thing is, we’re a family,” he says. He also says that they’re always accepting new members. He first heard about the sport on a table tent in E-Hall that said, “Come learn how to duel.” So he did. Fencing is both a physical and mental workout and is often referred to as physical chess.
Barrett says that you can train and lift six days a week, but if you can’t read your opponent, you’ll lose the duel. Fencing can be a difficult sport to learn, and it takes intense dedication to the sport to push yourself to become better, but according to Barrett, it’s a rewarding experience. “I’ve been working really hard to get as good as I am,” he says. He says that fencing allows you to get the best of both worlds, playing a sport and hanging out with your best friends. What does he think is the coolest part about fencing? Barrett says, “You get to say you’re a swordfighter at Thanksgiving dinner. That’s a pretty big plus.”
Joining the JMU archery club will allow you to shoot gold and bleed purple in the eyes of Lindsay Branton, a 2015 alumna, who joined her sophomore year. Like fencing, archery is very much a mental sport. The veteran members take much of the fall semester teaching new members the correct form before advancing to the mental preparation of the sport. Branton competed in the 2014 Collegiate Outdoor Nationals last year and placed ninth, which she considers her biggest achievement in the sport.
She explains that the hardest part about the sport is the learning curve because it gets frustrating not seeing an improvement in your scores, especially when you go to practice every night. She says practice does help, and you do see improvement after some time. “People should join JMU Archery if they’re looking for a new experience. The people on this team are amazing and you’re sure to make a huge new group of friends,” she says.
Breakdancing is something most people have seen, but probably think their bodies could never do. However, The Breakdance Club here at JMU strips it down to the basics and will work with you even if your best move is the sprinkler. They’re always taking new people and are willing to teach anyone as long as they’re willing to learn. But not everyone has zero experience when joining, like Abby Riggleman, a senior media arts and design major, who’s been breakdancing for 10 years. She says that it’s more than a sport — it’s a form of expression. “Breaking allows you to be creative and express yourself. I never got that with other sports. It’s a combination of athleticism and artistry,” she says.
According to the club, it’s something a lot of people pick up their freshman year. Riggleman also says that it’s a really relaxed and fun environment to escape the stress of college classes and everyday life. One thing about this club is that there’s no big commitment. You go as often as you want and can show up whenever you’re ready to dance. “Breaking is a journey of growth,” Riggleman says. “I have learned so much about myself and gained so much self-confidence from performing and realizing that I was pretty good.”