Ryerson athlete and master’s student Sam Hardwicke-Brown has a chance to lead his team to the OUA championship this year.
He has quite the reputation in one of the most overlooked of sports — fencing.
“I think fencing is a sport that not many people know about, and when they do, they (imagine) either pirates or Zorro,” he said. “But it’s really helped me develop confidence and learn team dynamics, and I think it needs to be more mainstream.”
Ohio State University recruited the 23-year-old Edmonton native in 2010 on a fencing scholarship. While there, he completed his undergraduate degree in fashion and retail studies, opting to take a fifth year in order to maintain his GPA and take less classes per semester.
Among his biggest highlights was a 2012 NCAA fencing championship — the university’s fourth fencing title. The Ohio Buckeyes fencing team also won the Big Ten Conference championship.
Hardwicke-Brown came to Ryerson University in September and is now a student in the master of arts in fashion program — the only graduate degree of its kind in Canada.
“When we first heard the news (that he was coming to Ryerson), our initial thoughts were like the Maple Leafs each year — we immediately started planning our OUA banner parade down Carleton Street,” said Kyle Foster, team manager for the Rams. “Suffice it to say, we were pretty excited.”
Ryerson has yet to win an OUA banner in fencing. Foster thinks that with Hardwicke-Brown on the team, there is a realistic chance of winning this year.
“I like the fact that someone who might not be as physically proficient can still beat another person in fencing based on intelligence,” said Hardwicke-Brown.
One of history’s oldest games, fencers use one of three weapons: foil, sabre and épée. Each fencer’s objective is to touch the other with the tip of his or her sword to score points. For foil fencers like Hardwicke-Brown, the target area is the torso.
The combative, one-on-one aspect of fencing, he says, is the biggest appeal.
“Your teammates will cheer for you but in the end, it’s only you against the other person,” he said. “You either get all the glory when you win or you have no one to blame but yourself when you lose, and I enjoy that individualistic aspect of it.”
Hardwicke-Brown had his first competition on Sunday at Brock University, where he won the gold medal in senior men’s foil — an event with 91 fencers.
He feels confident about the new season, especially since he’s training with fencer Josh McGuire, who competed in both the 2004 and 2008 Summer Olympics.
“I feel ready and I’m excited to don my new school colours,” he said.
This article was published in the print edition of The Ryersonian on Nov. 18, 2015.