Anchored in the efforts to spotlight Ontario University Athletics (OUA) student-athletes, the initiative See How She Got Started showcases and tells the story of how some of the conference’s talented student-athletes first got involved in sport and have made their way to the varsity stage on which they currently shine. It is also hoped that their stories can inspire young athletes to aspire to compete in varsity-level sports.
Year of Eligibility -
Program of Study -
English, Culture, and Communication
How did you first get involved in your sport?
I took a semester of fencing lessons at Brock University when I was 13. Howeve, I only began competing when I reached RMC.
What most interested you about your sport that made you want to pursue it at a high level?
I grew up watching movies where fencing was prominent (such as the Princess Bride) and was always interested in the sport. I decided that I wanted to pursue it at university because of the way it combines strategy, history, and physicality. It is a very polite sport that rewards both aggression and patience which really interested me.
Was there a specific moment/experience that led you to believe you could compete in your sport at a high level, and if so, what was it?
The first time I felt that I could compete in fencing at a level higher than I had previously believed was after my first individual lesson when I actually managed to begin scoring points. I felt as though I was finally beginning to understand the rhythm of the sport.
What is your fondest memory/experience of being involved in your sport thus far?
Some of my fondest memories of the sport are with my team. When the senior fencers take the time to bout with a junior fencer, there is a huge opportunity to learn and to connect as a team.
Is there someone who inspires you to continue to pursue your sport at this high level (i.e., coach, professional athlete, family member, etc.) and what makes them an inspiration to you?
I feel inspired by the women's team captain to continue pursuing fencing because she is constantly positive. She's also a great fencer who motivates the team well.
What excites you most about continuing your athletic journey at the varsity level within the OUA?
I am excited to get to see other universities and other parts of the country while learning new skills that are rather removed from the mainstream.
What is/are some of the more unique aspect(s) of your sport that others may not know about?
The critical thinking required in the moment combined with leveraging a predetermined strategy provides a unique mental challenge within the sport of fencing. It's not just swinging the sword wildly and hoping to hit the opposition.
If someone else was looking to start playing your sport, what one piece of advice would you give them to get them started?
I would advise them to be patient and not expect success immediately. You can expect to be hit, and it does not always feel good. You will be bruised, but if you stick with it, you will learn an incredible skill.
What is one critical thing that you do to try to continue to experience improvement within your sport (i.e., specific drill/exercise, training regimen, routine, etc.)?
I try and do target practice at least once a week. I also often do hand-eye coordination drills with a friend. Developing lower body power is very important so I practice lunges and squat jumps regularly as well.
What would you say to your 10-year-old self about playing and staying in sport?
I would say to my 10-year-old self that when you enjoy something you should stick with it and not care if it's a sport that's not always considered cool.
Is there one strategy that you find works well for you in creating a positive student/athlete balance in your life?
I find having a clearly laid out schedule is the most important element of maintaining balance. I have numerous schedules so I can always check what is going to be happening in the future. I also keep a spreadsheet with all my due dates and readings so that I can quickly reference what I should be working on whenever I have study hours.
Head to the SWSCD Athlete Advisor, your online athletic business directory. Find, rate and review programs, local community offerings and businesses that will help you do your thing.
Start a group around a physical activity in your neighbourhood. Explore events. Check out our SWSCD Hub.
Look for advice, stories, news and more on our Fencing activity page.
Have a sport, recreation or physical activity accomplishment you'd like to celebrate and shout out through SWSCD? Become a SWSCD member and share your story directly on SeeWhatSheCanDo. Or, simply add the hashtag #seewhatshecando to your public social media posts and SWSCD can help you inspire others around you.
Blog by Caroline Wiley. Caroline bridged her 20+ years of professional experience in the sport and recreation industry together with her passions for photography and supporting women in sport to create SeeWhatSheCanDo. Her vision is to create a welcoming space where active women find a sense of belonging within their own local community, see themselves in authentic and awe-inspiring ways and find resources to help them be their best active selves.
Photos courtesy of Ontario University Athletics and SeeWhatSheCanDo unless otherwise indicated.
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