Since the opening of Brock University in 1964, one of the longest athletic programs within the campus is the sport of fencing. It was also one of the first five sports the school received approval to play at the Ontario university level.
On Nov. 14 and 15 the Badgers fencing program hosted its annual Brock Open. This tournament is becoming one of the biggest tournaments in Canada for fencing, with close to 800 participants this year – topping the Canada Cup.
“This is by far one of the biggest events in Canada,” said Brock’s head coach Tim Stang. “This is more of an Ontario based event, so for us to have participants from other provinces coming it is a sign of the growth of this event and the sport in general.”
Along with Ontario athletes, Quebec was the second most represented province in terms of athletes. However, along with University student-athletes fencing, the tournament also had events for younger fencers, as a way for them to gain experience.
“There is a physical attribute to it and lots of mental play,” said Stang. “You can be a very aggressive fencer [or] you can be a very passive fencer. It is one on one, but you’re not only battling your opponent, you are battling yourself.”
There are three types of fencing: epee, sabre and foil – all of which were represented at the Brock Open. This event took up the entire Ian Beddis gym and parts of the Bob Davis Gymnasium as well.
“This is actually one of the biggest turnouts we’ve had,” said the assistant coach Matt Dunlop. “We had close to 800 athletes pre-register, in addition to those who came last minute.”
For Brock, they’ve had some successful years as a team, but Stang called this year more of a re-building phase. “We have some extremely strong competitors,” said Stang. “We expect to do very well in the OUAs.”
“Every year, we are one of the few programs that not only has a varsity team, but we also do initiation for Brock students with no fencing experience,” said Stang. “Just for fun, we allow students to come [in September]. They learn a little bit of fencing, they get into the gear, we put some weapons in their hands and they get to spar with somebody. If they like it, they get to join one of our classes for $40.”
The Brock Open finished with some strong performances from all Badger athletes. The fencing team will now prepare for their OUA action for the 2015-16 season, before the OUA championships which take place in February.