Timeout with… Fencer David Jennings ‘16

[Photo courtesy of Dave Jennings] David Jennings ‘16 (left) scores a touch.

[Photo courtesy of Dave Jennings] David Jennings ‘16 (left) scores a touch.

Rachel Robertson

Rachel Robertson: To those who have no clue what fencing is can you explain what the objective of fencing is?

David Jennings: It’s complicated to explain. It’s almost like a game of physical chess. It’s a very big mental game but you have to have the technical skills and strength to pull it off. The objective is to combine all of your skills in order to beat your opponent in a three minute, five touch bout. So you’re trying to touch a person five times in a designated target that’s dependent on the weapon or have more touches in three minutes.

RR: Fencing is broken down by weapon. Which one do you compete with?

DJ: Épée, which is a point weapon. You can score a touch on any part of the opponent’s body with the épée.

RR: Why did you choose to compete with épée?

DJ: It was chosen for me. Forced into. I like it. It’s very technical. Saber is most exciting to watch because it’s fast pace. Épée is actually the most boring.

RR: How did you get into fencing?

DJ: I actually played lacrosse for seven years, but in high school I quit lacrosse because I didn’t really like the people I was playing with. I was looking for a new sport and one of my really good friends in high school said I should go to fencing practice at this other high school. I went and the coach immediately took a liking to me because I was really tall. It’s a useful attribute for épée. He was like, “You’re going to come fence for me, and you’re going to fence épée.” I got into it my sophomore year, and I was starting by the junior year and then I was A strip [top épée] by my senior year.

RR: Are you the only one in your family that fences?

DJ: I do have a sister and she fences now. She kind of took after me, followed in my sports footsteps. She played lacrosse too and stopped and started fencing. She fences épée now for Boston College.

RR: What is the most difficult thing about fencing?

DJ: It’s a very frustrating sport. It’s kind of like golf in the sense that you have nobody to blame but yourself. It’s tough because there are a lot of really good fencers out there at the collegiate level. One of the Sacred Heart fencers is from French national team. He’s absurd, so good. He annihilated us. It can be mentally straining.

RR: What is your favorite fencing memory?

DJ: Yes. In high school we went up against a team named Milburn. My high school was very formidable but these guys were really good. Épée bouts always ended it with only one strip so everyone was watching. We had the pressure of the last few bouts to win it all. I was the A strip [best épée] and it was 13-13 so I decided the meet. I was done by a couple touches but then came back so I was up 4-3. Then I won a double touch to win. Everyone flips outs, my team goes nuts, I rip off my mask and was excited as hell. It was a really awesome feeling to know I won the swing point.

RR: Do you have a favorite fencer?

All the people who are really good ends up in the Olympics. One of the better fencers is a saberist for the US team named Tim Morehouse. Some of the better countries are France, Italy, the US, Poland and Russia. The Russians are intense. If you have Russian coach you’re probably in good hands.

RR: Favorite ice cream?

DJ: Half-Baked Ben and Jerry’s. Always good.

RR: Favorite vacation spot?

DJ: I really enjoyed Costa Rica. Zip-lining… It was pretty cool. You were thousands of feet above rainforests.

RR: Favorite movie?

DJ: “Dodgeball”—such a classic.So funny. Also, I dressed up as Vince Vaughn for Halloween.

RR: Favorite song?

DJ: I like “Piano Man.” It’s a good song. There’s time when we’re in Milo’s and one of those songs comes on. Everyone stops what they’re doing to sing along. It’s such a great feeling.

RR: Any words of wisdom?

DJ: This is one of those moments where you can say anything you want and you can’t think of anything…Study hard but play harder. I like that. It’s a good Lafayette mentality, right there.