Faces of UCM: Eric Jefferson

Faces of UCM: Eric Jefferson

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Assistant News Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The blade snapped in half and the referee called halt, but it was too late.

PHOTOS BY BRANDON BOWMAN / PHOTO EDITOR Eric Jefferson (left) takes on his opponent Ken Carter with a little friendly sparring Tuesday night in the Lovinger gym.
Eric Jefferson (left) takes on his opponent with a little friendly sparring Tuesday night in the Lovinger gym.

The opponent lunged for Eric Jefferson and stabbed him with a sharp, broken weapon.
“The blades are not designed to be sharp, but we do have protective gear to stop the blade from penetrating,” Jefferson said. “That time the blade pierced through all of that and entered my skin.”
Jefferson said he has been a fencing competitor for years, but has yet to see any critical injuries.
“After you’re doing it for awhile, you can run into the possibility of getting hurt,” he said.
Jefferson said fencing is one of the fastest sports known to man, but it’s also one of the safest, due to the protective gear.
“The gear is lightweight,” he said. “The only thing is that it seals in body heat. It gets hot after awhile. You’re building your body heat and your suit is holding that in. You’ll see people take off their helmets, and there is sweat dripping all down their face.”
Coming in as a freshman, Jefferson said he was very shy and didn’t know how to get involved on campus. He learned about fencing at the involvement fair and became interested when he learned that the club would provide all the gear needed, with guidance on the step-by-step rules of fencing.
“So, on my first day there, they taught us footwork, and then a couple weeks later taught us blade work, and ever since then, I never looked back,” Jefferson said. “I just got into it and became really competitive.”
Now, four and a half years later, Jefferson is one of the many senior members of the fencing club and has won several accolades at the Midwest Fencing Guild tournaments.
Eric Jefferson poses with his fencing gear Tuesday night.
Eric Jefferson poses with his fencing gear Tuesday night.

Jefferson said the Midwest Fencing Guild was formed when he was a sophomore student.
Nolan Brooks, founder of the UCM fencing club, contacted other universities about competing.
“We combined and became the Midwest Fencing Guild, and we have a program where each month one school hosts a tournament and all the other schools travel there,” Jefferson said.
This month, UCM’s fencing club and three other schools will travel to the University of Missouri – Columbia to compete.
“It’s not just the Midwest Fencing Guild, we also post it on a website called askred. com,” Jefferson said. “It is a fencing website, you post a tournament and then other people that have fencing experience can join the tournament and travel there to compete. We have fencers from all over that aren’t just part of the Midwest Fencing Guild.”
Jefferson said he has improved greatly since he began fencing as a freshman.
“I love the strategy,” he said. “It’s not all athletic. I have seen fencers who are 70 years old beat someone who is 22. They have more experience and they know how to strategize their attack better.
“The better athlete does not always win in fencing, it takes being a good athlete and being able to strategize and plan ahead to determine how far you can go in the sport.”
Jefferson even mentioned how fencing has changed him.
“I would say without a doubt that I’m not the same person I was,” he said. “I still have some of the same traits, but I’m not nearly as shy as I was.”
He said all his favorite memories have been with the fencing club and that they are both a competitive and a social club.
That’s why Jefferson wants students, who are new to UCM and shy like he was, to find something that interests them and something they are passionate about.
“Find something interesting that you like to do and then find people who share your same passion,” Jefferson said. “You guys will get along great and have a common interest. You can expand on that and develop friendships. It could bring out a side of you that you never knew was there.”
Jefferson has found his passion in fencing and said that even after he graduates he will continue to compete in the club at St. Louis University. He plans to move back to his hometown of St. Louis to help his mom and younger brother. He also plans to work at an engineering firm in the St. Louis area.
Jefferson wants to be close to his family after graduation because he said family is most important to him.
“My mom is a single parent,” Jefferson said. “She raised me with my dad, but my dad passed so it’s just me her and my little brother. She used to call us The Three Musketeers which I’ve found funny since I joined a fencing club. So I’d really like to be back there to help her out. To help her with the house and help my brother when he needs it.”
Whatever happens, Jefferson said he is excited.
“I’m wondering what’s going to come next, what’s going to be over the horizon. What the next day holds. I’m looking forward to the future. I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next.”