You don’t have to travel to a galaxy far, far away or use the force to wield a lightsaber. At Lehigh, the Lightsaber Club hosts weekly duels on campus.
Club president Madix Marlatt, ‘25, said he met club vice president Giovanni Pedroza, ‘25, at the beginning of their freshman year when they discovered they were both Star Wars fans.
Marlatt said their love of the series grew as they found other friends who share the same interest. After seeing TikToks of people doing lightsaber tricks, he began to collect them.
“I was like, ‘Wow, that looks pretty cool,’ so then I started researching it and found some for $80,” Marlatt said. “I remember the first (lightsaber) coming, and all of the sudden I started to buy more than one and amassed a collection. I think I have five now.”
Pedroza said once Marlatt collected enough sabers to duel with his friends, they began playing with them in common areas on campus.
Eventually the group created the Lightsaber Club, which was declared an official campus organization at the beginning of the fall 2022 semester.
At their start, Marlatt said attendance and the club’s e-board was composed of just his friends.
However, after exhibiting at the club fair, they began to see a group of 15 new people consistently attend their weekly duels.
“People who just walked by and saw us were like ‘Oh that’s cool, let me check this out,’ and then those people became regulars,” Pedroza said. “Now, we have a solid group that shows up weekly.”
Marlett said more students began to join when the weather became warmer, as they piqued the interest of those spending time outside on the lawn where they practiced.
The club has attracted more than just students to its meetings. Marlett said the Lehigh University Police Department and Ric Hall, vice president of student affairs, have shown up to their practices.
“I immediately went over to the Lightsaber Club at the spring semester club fair because it just seemed so Lehigh: very random,” Hall said. “I asked them when they met, and I told them that I was going to drop in for meetings eventually.”
Pedroza said they were not expecting Hall to show up. However, on Feb. 25, he entered the third floor of the Health, Science and Technology building, where they were practicing over the winter, and pulled out his lightsabers from inside his coat with a giant smile on his face.
Hall dueled many members of the club, including Marlatt. Hall said he brought two lightsabers that could be connected to create a double-sided one, which fascinated many members of the club.
Although Hall is not a big Star Wars fan like Marlatt and Pedroza and lacks sword fighting experience, he said he can now add a lightsaber to his sword collection — joining a replica samurai sword he bought at a comic book convention and a fencing blade.
Hall said he hopes to join the club for another duel and might bring one of his children with him.
“It’s exhausting because they’re going full speed,” Hall said. “You don’t realize during a sword fight or while you’re fencing that you get hit in the hands, so if those were real lightsabers or swords, your hands would be cut off. It was so much fun.”
Hall, Marlatt and Pedroza all said they would love to duel President Helble.
They invite all community members, regardless of experience level, to join them at their club meetings on Saturday from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in front of STEPS. Lightsabers are provided.
“It can be a fun stress reliever,” Marlatt said. “It’s definitely open, and everyone is friendly.”