Battle Club: Explained


Miles Meschter (he/him), Staff Writer

Students spending their lunches in the cafeteria or eating in the classrooms overlooking the back courtyard may have noticed the occasional duels that have taken place outside this year. Bearing knight’s gowns and foam noodles, the Ida B. Wells Battle Club has become a schoolwide phenomenon among those who watch. Placed in the middle of the grass enclosure, the club puts on an entertaining display of participants whacking and chasing one another with pool noodles. 

“[Foam noodles] are mostly safety. An added benefit is the fact that they’re kind of wind resistant, which allows for a weighty feeling behind them. So, it’s not like cardboard where it cuts through the air like nothing. It kind of has some resistance like an actual weighted weapon might, but it doesn’t come with that weight and hardness that an actual sword does.” Says Ian Finley, a freshman.

As the founder of the Battle Club, Finley came to use foam noodles to appease school administration. He has been running the group’s activities since 8th grade, where he started it in the gym at Jackson Middle School. He appears uninfluenced by the attention the duels attract, the club appeals to his interests of medieval history.

“Basically, we’re just a bunch of nerds who enjoy medieval stuff and medieval combat, especially me,” said Finley. “I’m like a history buff for that type of thing. We just decided we might as well start fighting and to do it at school.”

Ian was interviewed while dressed in full battle attire, a white knight tunic with a red cross and ringed belt laid over his rain jacket. He notes other members will also dress up on occasion. 

“For me I just dress up because I enjoy it. I don’t know, it just makes it kind of feel fun,” Finley said.

Ian Finley, Founder of Battle Club

The Battle Club is a mostly simple game that doesn’t require a complex rule book. Watching the duels take place will demonstrate it’s mostly a circle of friends having fun with one another, noodle in hand. Yet as high schoolers with access to long, bendy pool toys, inevitably, produce boundaries that have been set for proper combat.

“We try and keep it fairly simple, but basically it’s one shot and you’re out [one shot = one point],” explains Finley. “Anything that is above the crotch line, within either side of the shoulder. So on top of the shoulders counts and below your chin line, that is all the hitable area. You cannot hit people in the head, at least not to gain points, and you should try to avoid it anyway. And hitting someone in the arms or legs also doesn’t count. There’s a couple things with how you wield the different weapons. Like you can’t hold [the noodle] one-handed. It’s a two-handed weapon, but besides that, there’s not too many.”

These guidelines help a group with the name “Battle Club” get staff approval in a school, and Ian didn’t make note of any incident where a knight was injured on the field. All of the club members that were out that day, notably Ian, presented as kind and polite, showing no violence-obsessed personalities. Yet he still describes the safety roadblocks put by the school admin in organizing the club.

“The school almost shut it down because they considered it to be too dangerous,” said Finley. “Which is really funny to me because, again, it’s pool noodles. And I don’t exactly know why, because they hadn’t really tried to involve themselves — they just didn’t really engage with us. So they, from an outside perspective, when we’re running around without any teacher or supervision, they viewed it as possibly dangerous, which is fair enough.”

Perhaps a reason why the club does its duels mostly in the center of the courtyard, where security staff in the cafeteria lunchroom can keep an eye.

The Battle Club has developed into an iconic sight this school year, making their activities a pleasant lunch pastime for themselves and onlookers from classroom windows. The club has also been a summer project for Ian, that has led to duels with friends of up to 13 people. 

As freshmen, the ties in this group could be a testament to how students of all interests and identities can find community. Members of the club could be spending their lunches in hallways, classrooms, or Hillsdale, but they’d rather take part in medieval duels out in February weather.

The Ida B. Wells Battle Club can be found on A day schedules, dueling in the gym on Mondays, and the back courtyard on Wednesdays.