Kristen Shafer went to fencing practice in blue jeans and a rain coat.
Shafer’s passion for fencing was spurred watching the Summer Olympics as a little girl. She wanted to try fencing in high school, but going to school in the small town of Butte Falls, Oregon, didn’t offer it.
Shafer faced another obstacle in her pursuit of fencing. She has issues with her iliotibial band, a tendon that runs up the thigh and connects to the hip. This didn’t stop her from fencing during her first year of college.
Shafer didn’t realize how much jerky movement fencing required once she joined.
“I can’t lunge in fencing or else I collapse,” Shafer said. “I think that’s what further injured my knee.”
Shafer was forced to take her second year off. During that year off, Shafer stayed involved with the club as a coordinator. She would stay in contact with the club sports administrators and perform behind the scenes tasks.
After spending the year behind the scenes, Shafer said she misses the spotlight from her first year.
“It’s been a really rough ride, and it’s been kind of heartbreaking watching everyone having a great time,” Shafer said. “I’m just sitting there saying ‘I can’t do this.'”
Shafer has been given the clear to fence in the fall and said she is ready to return to action.
“I’m pretty pumped about it because I have not been able to fence or run or do anything that I love,” Shafer said. “It’s been a goal.”
Freshman Alex Wyckoff has been eager for Shafer to return.
“Alex has been asking me every single practice, ‘Can you fence? Are you okay to fence?” Shafer said.
The fencing club is seeing low participation numbers as they finish the 2014 season.
Head coach Adam Lake said the fencing community in the Pacific Northwest is strong in the Portland and Seattle area, but not in Eugene.
For the first time in the fencing club’s history, it did not attend any tournaments. The club was about to go to their first competition of the year when Lake became ill.
When Shafer first arrived in Eugene, the fencing club immediately caught her attention. She walked by the room and saw all of the participants in full gear.
“I thought it was really neat,” Shafer said. “I figured that this was a really good environment and a very tight knit family that made me feel very welcome.”