Volume 91, Issue 77

Friday, February 13, 1998

chumping for joy


Hassett excels as switch-fencer

©Phil Mullin/Gazette
IT'S ALL FUN AND GAMES 'TILL SOMEONE LOSES AN EYE. Two female competitors fence it out at the McMaster West Sectional late last month. Inset. Men's team captain Mike Hassett.

By Justin Klein

Gazette Staff

Mike Hassett was 12 years old when he decided to give fencing a try. He seemed to be a natural and he grasped the ideas and technique of the sport quickly. Nine years later, the Calgary native is a stalwart for the Western men's fencing team.

As a rookie in 1995, Hassett developed into a solid number-one player at the varsity level. His play earned him the team captaincy the following season. Mustang head coach John Buchner decided that Hassett deserved the honour because of his dynamic personality and amazing fencing skill.

"He shows a lot of leadership on the court," Buchner said. "He helps out the other kids whenever he can and is a pleasure to coach as well."

Last season, Hassett dominated the individual matches in the league, as he slowly earned the reputation of being a sure win among his teammates. Hassett qualified for the Ontario University Athletic finals, where he placed a modest fifth. In the end, he had bowed to more experienced competition. His contribution to the team, however, did not go unnoticed as he was named the most valuable Mustang fencer.

Hassett entered this season with a renewed optimism, knowing that winning a provincial championship was not out of the realm of possibility. Hassett picked up his position where he left off last year, as he was too skillful for any of his opponents. However, Hassett's luck ran short when he broke his arm in a practice in mid-November.

"Through the help of the coach and the assistant coach, I was able to keep up my shape and form," Hassett said about his recovery.

Hassett was forced to miss a couple of league matches, but he still participated in inter-league competitions, fencing with his left arm and, remarkably, placed second at one meet.

By mid-January, Hassett's arm healed and was in good enough condition to compete in conference play again. That month, Hassett came first in the foil division at the first West sectional meet held at McMaster.

Last weekend at the second West sectional, held at Western, Hassett did not fair as well, but still placed a solid third.

He feels his success as a player can only be attributed to the coaches and the time they have spent with him. Hassett pointed specifically to the efforts of assistant coach Paul Simms who helped train him to fence with his left hand while his right one was hurt.

"Paul is an excellent coach for the foil team and an excellent player," the modest fencer commented. "His knowledge of the sport and his ability to convey this knowledge to me and the other players is amazing."

Hassett and the rest of the Mustang fencers will be in action this weekend, as they compete in the provincial championships at the Royal Military College in Kingston.

To Contact The Sports Department: gazsport@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998