By Steven D’Souza
The Ryerson fencing team is busy polishing their blades and washing their uniforms in preparation for the start of another season.
The team has a new coach, Eugene Mirkin. But Eugene hasn’t been seen around Ryerson much and will miss their first tournament, the Ryerson Open, being held this Saturday in Kerr Gym. Eugene is in Columbus Ohio attending a trade show.
The team isn’t completely lost though — Mirkin’s father Ioseph is helping out as an assistant coach. Ioseph has plenty of experience. He coached a fencer to a gold medal in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.
In light of Eugene’s temporary absence, the team is counting on top fencers Simon Racioppa and Karen Parsons to lead the way.
Last season in the men’s foil, Racioppa had strong finishes at the beginning of the year, placing fifth in two tournaments, but failed to qualify for the Ontario West finals.
On the women’s side, Karen Parsons went into the finals ranked first, only to finish a disappointing seventh. “Last year I didn’t know how to handle the stress,” says Parsons, a fourth-year nutrition student.
“I’d lose a match and it would just be a downward spiral from there.”
The Ottawa Gee Gees will again be the class of the field, winning the last three Ontario University Athletics Association fencing championships.
Ryerson is hoping it can slash its way into contention this year with the skill and precision of a Ginsu. But they will have to find more fencers to fill the team first.
“A lot of people say they’re interested in fencing—well come out for the team,” pleads Paul Campanelli, a fourth-year architecture student.
Aspiring fencers must register for a 10-week training course at the RAC before they can join the team.
Campanelli does offer a bit of advice for those needing inspiration: “Just imagine your opponent is one of your profs, that will help.”