In the Locker Room with Caleb Anderson and Felipe Ferreira


Briana Santiago, staff photographer

Caleb Anderson (left) and Felipe Ferriera

This week, the Review sat down with Beginner Fencing ExCo Instructor junior Caleb Anderson and Badminton ExCo Instructor sophomore Felipe Ferreira to talk about the growth of these unique campus sports groups over time, their favorite memories as Oberlin sports instructors and how fellow students can get involved.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did your groups form?

Caleb Anderson: Fencing is actually the oldest club sport at Oberlin, so it’s been around for a while. The name of the club itself — the Flaming Blades — originated in the ’90s.

Felipe Ferreira: There was a group before I got to school that was pretty active in badminton. When I was a freshman last year, I came here ready to play and there was no club, so I started it up as a freshman again toward the end of the year. Now, I’m just trying to get it back rolling now that I’m a sophomore.

What is it like competing in your sport and who do you play against?

CA: We play against a lot of other teams in the Midwest, and it’s a lot of fun. For a while Oberlin has been kind of not-so-great in our region in fencing. But in the last year or two, we have actually started to do pretty well. Last year was a fantastic season for us, and there were a lot of really great moments for the team.

FF: We’ve actually only had one competition so far since I’ve been here, which happened toward the end of last year. It was a very informal competition — not a lot of keeping score. Mostly, it was just a way for the communities of Case Western Reserve University, Baldwin Wallace University and Oberlin College to come together and play with each other. Hopefully we will get to set up more official competitions in the days to come.

What do you enjoy most about your ExCo?

CA: What I enjoy most about my ExCo is getting to share my knowledge and experience in fencing with new students. e last couple of semesters, we actually had a couple of adults in the Oberlin community and their high school-aged children, and that was a lot of fun, teaching them. It was good to help… younger people get into this sport.

FF: I really like to take all of the experience that I have and… show that to people. Most people played badminton back in middle school or when they were kids with their families and don’t understand the actual competitive side to it and the healthy and good competition that you can have with your friends and family. It’s really nice to see that stuff.

What has been your favorite experience thus far?

CA: My favorite experience so far was last year. Two other fencers and I were able to qualify for the Junior Olympics, which were actually being held in Cleveland. It was a great experience. We all learned a lot, and I think we were able to bring back a lot of new information to the club, which will hopefully help us grow in the next season.

FF: My favorite was the competition — being able to take these new people that I have just recently introduced badminton to, to see them take what I’ve taught them and apply that in a competition and to see them do very well.

How have you seen your ExCo grow throughout your time at Oberlin?

CA: When I first joined the fencing team here it was a little smaller than it is now. We had a couple of freshmen come in during my freshman year [who] had a lot of experience. en, the following year, we had a lot of freshmen come in, and the team just grew so much that we weren’t even budgeted for the number of people that we had. It really is great to see the sport growing in popularity here and hopefully it will continue to do so.

FF: I think when we started off, which was toward the end of last year, we only had six people who showed up regularly. But now, the numbers have grown much larger to around 12–16 people. They all seem very motivated, which I haven’t seen before.

How have you seen your sport grow throughout the country?

CA: This year, in particular, was great for fencing with the Olympics. Men’s foil won its first medal for the United States since the 1930s. Because of the higher pro le individuals on the fencing team for Team USA, I think that fencing is really starting to be seen more by the public.

FF: I feel like there is a lot more work to do with badminton in the United States just because it’s usually not respected by a lot of people throughout different sports communities. It’s definitely been looked down upon as more of an inferior sport, but I feel like that is definitely getting better. More people are playing it at young ages, and I feel like it’s going to enter more middle schools and high schools and become actually a staple varsity sport.

Describe the cultures of your sport that you have experienced.

CA: I’d say the biggest thing I’ve noticed about the culture of fencing is that it’s kind of a nerdy sport, but it’s a very intellectual sport where it kind of makes sense. It’s a lot of strategy, a lot of analysis of your opponent and then trying to translate that into actual physical motions as well. It takes a lot of work, so you see a lot of people who are generally pretty intelligent.

FF: One of the things that stands out to people who recently started playing badminton is, they realize how warm the sport is and how welcoming it is to people who have never played before. If you go to any open-gym events — not only here at Oberlin but anywhere else — new people are welcomed crazily. ere are a lot of smiles when you play. It’s a very fun sport, very welcoming.

What made you want to instruct your ExCo?

CA: I’ve come from a place where I’ve gotten a lot of great coaching when I was younger. My old coach back home actually won the Coach of the Year Award in fencing last year. So, I thought, I’ve got this experience, I might as well share it with my teammates so I can try and do something positive for the team.

FF: I played on a sports team in high school for about three years and I feel like just within those three years there was a lot that I learned that I can share with everyone else. Even though there are probably people who have more experience or can play badminton better, I still want to show that to everyone.

Interview by Darren Zaslau, Sports editor. Photo by Briana Santiago, Staff photographer.