By Jennifer Hudson, GoPSUsports.com Student Athlete Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Bright and early on Sunday, Sept. 7 at 7 a.m., the men's and women's national championship fencing team took on their first challenge of the year - cleaning Beaver Stadium.
It is a continuing
tradition that the fencing team cleans half of the stadium right after the
first home football game.
In return for their hard work, the team gets money to fund the season for travel and other events.
Although it is not a group favorite, it does give the chance for a little team bonding before the season begins.
"It was an excellent team building exercise," said sophomore epee fencer, Conor Shepard. "It's been a tradition for a long time, and does an amazing job of bringing all classes together in order to get to know each other."
The upperclassmen will take a section to sweep next to freshmen to show them the best way for clean up. The coaches will also come around every so often to let team members know if they missed any piece of trash, any little wrapper.
"It was a good way to build discipline for the whole team," said freshmen saber fencer, Andrew Mackiewicz. "The freshman fencers were able to connect with the upperclassmen by helping each other out which is crucial for the upcoming season."
Communication during the whole process was key for the team.
With half the stadium to clean, it was important to see who needed help or who needed motivated to get everyone back on their feet in order to finish the task as soon as possible. Just like if it were a meet, it was important for everyone to be focused and in it together, no matter how mundane and tiring the task.
The team worked together in pairs, taking sections at a time to look for any little Minute Maid Lemonade wrapper and every popcorn kernel.
Seven hours later, the fencers were cleared to leave the spotless cleanup site.
With the joyous news, some of the team went with the coaches to get pizza, while others went home to shower and sleep.
Everyone was happy that this year's clean up was completed and some of the seniors rejoiced a little more.
"It was my last time," said senior saber fencer, Michael Brand. "It makes reality set in that I'm graduating this year."
The next task for the Penn State fencing team is to train hard for its first meet of the season, The Nittany Lion Cup Open on Oct. 4 and 5 at the White Building.
Jennifer Hudson is a junior on the women's fencing team.