Bruce and Lauren Milligan have co-owned Savage Fencing Club for seven months.
Opening the club at Savage Mill in February, the couple wanted to find a way to bring the sport to those in their community.
Bruce, 71, was introduced to fencing at 14 years old and went on to compete in the sport on the national level. Lauren, 46, was introduced to fencing in college, went on to compete in the sport on the national level and returned to it years later after having two children.
Now, the pair serve as two of five coaches to nearly 70 students between the ages of 5 and 85.
Lauren said she wanted to introduce the sport to those who may have never tried it before.
“It really is kind of a magical thing to take people that have never held a sword before and show them the basics and watch them discover fencing and fall in love with the sport,” she said.
Bruce said fencing is a lifetime sport that can teach athletes valuable life lessons.
“If you’re counting on someone else to fix things for you, then you’re probably not going to get better,” he said. “In fencing it’s the same, if you lose, there’s one simple solution, get better and that’s something that we try to teach to our students.”
Teaching a range of courses including, épée, foil and saber, the club offers beginner, competitive and intermediate classes for adults and youth.
Ken Myers, 53, of Burtonsville in Montgomery County, started taking classes at the club in February.
Having taken a fencing class in college, he said he wanted to revisit the sport.
Myers said it is the friendly and welcoming environment that keeps him returning to the club.
“[Bruce and Lauren] very clearly care about the sport more than anything else and that kind of helps a lot as well because they are very involved in it and I think we all feed off of that,” he said.
Coaches and students at the club have won medals on the local, regional, national and international level.
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In February, the club hosted the Choco Therapy Tournament in Savage, an épée tournament of 36 fencers from 15 fencing clubs across the region, according to their website. In March, Bruce and Lauren competed in the North American Cup in Richmond, Virginia, a tournament of 2,730 fencers during which Bruce placed sixth in a veteran men’s foil competition and Lauren placed sixth in the combined age group veterans event.
Lauren said she was glad to be able to compete against her colleagues in the sport during the NAC tournament.
“During the event, there’s a real sense of community especially in the veteran’s groups because we’ve all been fencing each other for decades,” she said. “Especially after the pandemic, to be able to be with your fencing friends was a real joy, so we were very happy to be there.”
Bruce said the ultimate goal of the sport is to enjoy yourself.
“[Like] I say to my students, if you’re not here to have fun, you’re in the wrong building,” he said. “That’s why we do it, we don’t do it for the money, we don’t do it for the fame, we do it because we love the sport.”
Savage Fencing Club
8600 Foundry Street, Savage. 410-926-2800. savagefencingclub.com