Those who have walked around NAU at night have most likely been privy to the sight of lightsabers casting a multicolored glow across the lawn of the central quad.
These individuals are part of a Flagstaff club called North Wind Saber. The club’s president, senior Trevor Whitlow, said the group practices lightsaber combat mostly for fun.
“North Wind Saber is a lightsaber combat and choreography group,” Whitlow said. “We all have a passion for lightsaber combat, whether it be staged or actual. We play games as well, such as team deathmatch, and all-in-all just like to have fun.”
North Wind Saber was formed six years ago by a man and his close friends, who all enjoyed performing various types of martial arts.
“They saw some lightsabers designed for combat and all bought their own to start fighting each other,” Whitlow said. “It wasn't a real club at first until others started to want to join in.”
The group has approximately 25 members, which fluctuates depending on the day. They are also affiliated with a sister organization in Phoenix called Sabers of the Southern Flame.
To people who may be unsure about joining North Wind Saber, combat director senior Zachary Bell said there is no need to worry about ability or injury risks.
“We will help you out with teaching you the basics, and there is no need to worry about getting hurt," Bell said. "For those who are on the fence based on the community aspect and about fitting in, our community is made up of people from all backgrounds, all walks of life and any interests. No matter who you are, you can fit in the club, and we would love to see you.”
Whitlow said new members are always welcomed in the nonexclusive, cost-free club.
“We're always welcoming new members, and we have free lightsabers and gloves for people to try out,” Whitlow said. “We're not exclusive, and it doesn't cost any money to join.”
Bell and Whitlow said connections and companionship among club members is one of their favorite qualities about the group.
“My favorite thing about this club is the camaraderie among the members and the ability for us to go from beating each other with glow sticks to hanging out at a restaurant and enjoying one another's company," Bell said. "I’ve not been part of any other group that has had any similar sense of community.”
Junior Elizabeth Livingston, the vice president of North Wind Saber, said she tends to devote four to six hours per week to the organization, due to her leadership position.
Livingston said she tries to emphasize to new members that the lightsaber playing field is meant to be a stress-free zone and is, most importantly, a space for having fun. She said she truly enjoys participating in everything North Wind Saber has to offer.
“My favorite thing is getting to spend time with others who share similar interests and are OK with being silly and having fun,” Livingston said.
Whitlow said North Wind Saber can be a bridge for those who feel lonely, lost or feel that they do not belong anywhere. He said that this is exactly what the club did for him when he first joined.
“I hope the members have fun and find a sense of belonging,” Whitlow said. “I was a transfer student last year and knew no one on campus, despite being a junior. This club helped me get to know some wonderful people and befriend them.”
North Wind Saber meets Wednesdays and Saturdays on NAU’s central quad at 6:30 p.m. until about 8:30 or 9 p.m. For those who are new to the group and simply wish to try it out, there is no need to buy a lightsaber yet — the club keeps several extra sabers on hand for new members.
Livingston advised those who want to try sparring to wear closed-toe shoes, gloves and, most importantly, bring a smile and open mind.
Joining North Wind Saber and eventually becoming its vice president was not a difficult decision for Livingston.
“I decided to join because it seemed fun, and it seemed to be full of fun people, who I would enjoy spending time with,” Livingston said.
Sophomore Anthony Trani explained the several aspects and benefits of the organization.
“North Wind Saber is a club where you can meet new people and feel free to geek out to your heart's desire, while also getting a form of exercise,” Trani said.
Freshman Matthew Dendy also spends four to six hours with the members of North Wind Saber but said that if he could spend more time with them, he would. He described the atmosphere at North Wind Saber as friendly and supportive.
With a friendly, welcoming atmosphere, North Wind Saber encourages members to be themselves and have fun with others.
“No matter what you are aiming to get from the club, you put in a little bit, and it’ll give you everything you didn’t realize you needed,” Bell said.
Whether it’s the fantastic glow of the lightsabers or the friendly faces that welcome everyone to the playing field, North Wind Saber tries to put a smile on everyone's face by lighting up the night.