Unique clubs link students together

Students of the Tir Asleen Medieval Combat Society practice outside Parks Library on Aug. 26.

Danielle Ferguson

Battle face on and sword raised, Reeka Girkhunter braced herself to charge the enemy.

She and her comrades shouted battle cries as a wall of opponents rushed to attack — with foam weapons, of course.

Reeka Girkhunter, otherwise known as Angela Kunkel, fifth year animal ecology and design student, is part of the Tir Asleen Medieval Combat Society. 

The Tir Asleen Medieval Combat Society is one of multiple special interest clubs and organizations on campus. Students have a chance to peruse a selection of Iowa State’s 800 clubs at ClubFest on Sept. 3.

Kunkel joined the club after she saw the group practicing outside the Memorial Union her freshman year.

“I can’t get away from it,” Kunkel said of the club. “It relieves stress during the semester.”

The ISU club is under the international umbrella of Belegarth Medieval Combat Society, a group that simulates medieval combat. The club can be seen flailing foam-padded swords, clubs, bats and spears Tuesdays in front of Parks Library.

Combat is full-contact, but president Kevin Healy said it’s 100 percent safe and veterans train newcomers to help them feel more comfortable when they’re in battle.

“I mean, I’ve had some pretty gnarly bruises,” Healy said as he took a break from showing a newcomer how to properly use a shield. “But it doesn’t hurt too bad.”

A strike from one of the foam swords feels similar to running into the side of a table. Healy said that most members don’t hit much harder than that, and some hit with a softer touch.

For those looking for a less combative hobby, Lynn Giang said she welcomes all who want to learn the art of origami with the Origami Club.

She said the club had about 100 members signed up at the end of last year. They rented out a room in Carver Hall to teach students about origami.

The group met every week and also had a few special events, such as delivering 1,000 origami cranes to Mary Greeley Medical Center and teaching elementary school children how to make a few paper animals.

Some of Iowa State’s clubs have been around for decades and others are more recent, such as the Iowa State Improv Comedy Club.

Co-founders Joey Cataldo and Chad Rietschel were watching “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” last year when they became curious to see if Iowa State had an improvisation club. When they didn’t see a club on the list, they decided to start the process of creating one themselves.

“There is a huge process,” Cataldo said. “Eventually we did all the formalities and got it up and going.”

The club tries to meet every Saturday to try out improv games shown on “Whose Line Is It Anyway?” or games they create.

“We just act out all sorts of wild stuff,” Cataldo said. “You get to be whatever you want and you have to think of it right then and there.”

The club is free to join and Cataldo said they always welcome new members with new ideas.

Nick Milner also found a hole in the ISU club database and founded Sneakerheads, a group of students who buy, sell and trade new or used sneakers.

He has been involved as a Sneakerhead since his freshman year in high school. Now, as a fifth year senior in industrial technology, Milner owns about 60 pairs of sneakers.

“Having a network helps so you can get shoes from other areas,” Milner said.

In addition to buying and trading, the group hopes to host a basketball tournament this year to raise money for Shoes That Fit, an organization that helps provide shoes to children in need.

Milner isn’t sure of the tournament date yet but hopes to schedule it for December or January.

The club had about 15 members last year. Milner said anyone who wants to be active on campus can join.

The Tir Asleen Medieval Combat Society follows the same philosophy.

“It’s definitely worth your time,” Kunkel said of trying out the club. “They turn into your second family.”