Volume 96, Issue 65
Friday, January 24, 2003

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Sad day for fencing

By Benjamin Mills
Gazette Staff

Beth Kerim/Gazette
THE THREE BUMBLING FOOLS. Gazette sports editors from left: Ryan Hickman, Jordan Bell and Benjamin Mills convinced men's fencing coach Brad Winder they were master swordsmen... really.

The football team gets a million dollar stadium. The basketball team gets enough shoes to make Emelda Marcos jealous. The fencing team gets a church conference room tucked away in the bowels of Westminster Hall.

Welcome to the illustrious world of fencing.

Possibly the epitome of a team that is hanging on by the seat of their pants, the Western fencing team does it all, even when practice facilities are over-booked (for the second time in a row), forcing them to trudge across a snowy campus to hone their swordsmenship in another residence conference room.

Today, they clear their makeshift piste of tables and chairs with the help of three totally clueless sports editors: sounds glamorous, doesn't it?

Fencing may not be one of the top three sports on campus – hell, it may not even be in the top 10. But just like any other varsity athlete on campus, if you prick a fencer, doth he not bleed?

Chances are they won't, due to protective vests, but before my corniness got the better of me, myself and fellow sports gurus, Jordan Bell and Ryan Hickman, took a stab at fencing.

There's that corniness again.

We went through all the motions that any Mustangs fencer would go through at a regular practice: the toe touching, the groin stretching, the trunk rotations. Remember that Grade 10 gym teacher that made you sit against a wall to the point where your thighs felt like boiling acid was surging through them? Well, we did that too.

None of this was expected. Instead of the usual walk in, shake hands, ask the usual questions, smile, wish them luck and walk out interview, we were subjected to the same exercises as the rest of the team.

A rush of giddiness befell the three of us upon receiving our foils, and yes, an invisible "Z" was etched into the air on several occasions. We were hooked into their electronic point-scoring device that unleashes an annoying buzz when a fencer scores a hit, and off we went.

I think the buzzer wore out.

After about an hour of flailing and getting poked more than the Pillsbury Doughboy, our debacle with the Western fencing team came to a close. Although our one-hour crash course didn't make Musketeers out of us after all, we did get a chance to see the camaraderie and love for a sport that receives no respect, no love, no money and no fans. We left with grins from ear-to-ear, feeling that warmth you get only after seeing a puppy saved, or maybe a child's first steps.

Now that was corny.

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