Jason Schneider, right, competes in the épée sword team event. PHOTO: JOSH BENETEAU

Swinging for the fences

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By Krista Robinson

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If you’re able to adjust to the frequent use of French fighting terms, accept the Clockwork Orange-esque attire, and overlook that it’s commonly dubbed the “physical chess,” then there’s a good chance you can get on board with the sport of fencing.

Even if you’ve never seen it played before.

“Not a lot of people know we exist, usually they just think we build fences,” said Arman Amin, captain of the Ryerson men’s épée sword team.

It’s relatively unknown that Ryerson has had a fencing team for more than 50 years, and a pretty good one at that. Last season, Rams seniors Joanna Kolbe and Sebastien Dubois-Didcock were named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) All-Stars and helped their team pull off its best season yet.

In a couple weeks 11 schools will compete in the OUA championships.

Last year, the Carleton Ravens and the Queen’s Gaels won the team events for men’s and women’s, respectively.

This year, the Ryerson Rams hope to challenge that outcome at Brock University, where the OUA’s will take place on Jan. 31-Feb. 1 for the women and Feb. 21-22 for the men.

While the Rams strive to medal in the individual and team events, assistant coach Darcy Gates said this has been a “building year” for the Rams, with “lots of newcomers.” Kolbe and Dubois-Didcock have graduated so the team will be counting on the many fi rst-years who attended September’s open tryouts.

Anna Cianni was one of those bright-eyed freshmen, looking for a varsity team to join during Frosh Week. Four months later she’s wearing a lamé and breeches, preparing to compete for Ryerson at the end of the month.

The journalism major competed at the other major tournaments at Brock and Western earlier this season.

“I remember being really nervous,” said Cianni. “I was standing on the piste and looking at my opponent, just thinking, all the stuff I learned is coming together and making sense, and that I could probably do this.”

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