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Game On

12/21/2012

The RISD Pricks – a student fencing club – are a welcome addition to the spirited athletic community.

No one can say RISD's athletic community lacks spunk. Many of the college's sporting organizations have developed quite a reputation due to rowdy gameplay, clever mascot costumes and team names laced with over-the-top innuendo.

The Nads, the college's co-ed ice hockey team, is only one example of silly RISD team spirit. While players are busy slapping pucks on the ice, Scrotie - the team's phallus-shaped mascot - heckles opposing teams without a shred of mercy. And when there's a lull in the on-ice action, the team's irreverent representative fires up fans to participate in bawdy cheers.

The newest sporting clubs at RISD have just as much enthusiasm. Consider the RISD Pricks, a fencing club started last year. According to Ashton Agbomenou 14 FAV, who serves as captain, his teammates are dedicated to the sport that uses pointed blades as athletic equipment. "It can get intense," he explains. "Fencing is somewhat like a chess game. It's all about when to attack and deliver."

Don't let the name fool you - the RISD Pricks are actually quite welcoming. The student organization encourages newcomers to drop by practices held three times a week in the RISD Auditorium. "We're a tight-knit group. We all help each other to improve," explains Agbomenou.

There, with the help Atilio Tass, the head coach of the Brown University fencing team, about 12 students practice their swordsmanship and lunging techniques. And after mastering a set of moves, the fencers compete against each other in a series of fast-paced matches. "As soon as you step out onto the mats, the adrenaline starts to pump right away," Agbomenou explains.

The RISD Seamen is another breakout club that's quickly gaining recognition on campus. Last spring Kevin Saxon 14 FD began to drum up support for a student-run sailing club. He got his wish when RISD administrators blessed the organization this fall. "We're so close to the water I just thought RISD should have a sailing club," Saxon explains.

When the weather is favorable, the small band of intrepid sailors zips on life preservers and makes its way down to Providence's Community Boating Center - a local facility that partnered with RISD to give students exposure to boating culture. There, the sea-legged students haul small vessels out from their weatherworn docks onto the waters of upper Narragansett Bay.

The boaters will typically spend a whole day out on the water on Hunter 216s and Sunfish. And on most days, the time spent careening along the Rhode Island shoreline is smooth sailing. "To have the opportunity to see the city from a new perspective is great," Saxton adds.

However, the outings aren't without thrills, as in the afternoon sailors decided to take their boats out for a short cruise - when strong winds suddenly descended on the tiny fleet, causing the sails to luff violently. While trying to regain control of the boats, they narrowly avoided a head-on collision. "It's always exciting," Saxon recalls with a grin.

Needless to say, the Seamen now vigilantly check weather reports before heading out onto the water. Saxon says it's a small price to pay for a fun extracurricular activity. "It's great to have the opportunity to relax on the water after a long day in studio," he says. "It's a beautiful thing." -Abigail Crocker

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tags: local/regional, students

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RISD has a long history of offering Saturday and after-school classes for children and teens, as this photo from c. 1910 confirms.