The SF Network

Making History: Virginia Beach Sports Center Hosts World’s Largest Collegiate Fencing Event

Describe fencing: A dance of blades. An elegant yet electrifying exchange between two opponents. A spectacular duel that vibrates intensity and passion. And unlike the quiet concentration found in some sports, fencing thrives on the energy and clamor of its participants and spectators alike.

“The first word that comes to mind is ‘loud.’ Fencing tournaments have machines that beep when you get a touch. Blades clanging, people cheering, it’s a very high-energy event, especially with college kids,” shares Jo Klatzman Higginson, current President of the Board of the United States Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs (USACFC).

On April 13-14, Virginia Beach Sports Center (VBSC) will host USACFC’s 2024 Championships, the largest collegiate fencing event worldwide. A tradition since 2003, the tournament will host over 45 teams from across the nation, including entrants from California and Texas. Nearly 800 athletes participate, with a 60/40 percent split of men to women. The event is a unique platform for collegiate students to engage with the sport post-high school while allowing them to compete and gain experience on a larger scale, encouraging them to attend additional USA Fencing tournaments outside of collegiate fencing. Attendance for spectators is free, making it a perfect weekend outing for families, sports aficionados, and anyone curious about the art of fencing.

USACFC regionally rotates the event’s location each year. In 2023, the event was held in the Midwest and will be in Pennsylvania in 2025. However, Virginia Beach Sports Center plays host this year, representing the South. The VBSC has played a prominent role in facilitating the event by providing an optimal space and a responsive team to assist in the organizational process.

“I did my first site visit back in the summer of 2022, and everyone has been wonderful to work with,” recalls Classman-Higginson. “They walked me through the venue, talked me through all the steps, and helped me connect with local hotels. The CVB has been fantastic at answering questions and helping coordinate, and working with the venue itself has been lovely.”

USACFC’s main goal? Creating a memorable, fun-filled experience for students. “At the end of the day, we want the students to walk away and say, ‘we had so much fun,’” she added. “Even when they’re tired, even when they’re sore, whether they win or lose, we want them to have fun, and I hope that that’s something we’ve been able to bring every year.”

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