A friend had suggested to Sarah Jennings that she run a boxing club at Trent, but she thought she was too busy. Later that night her boyfriend Jake Stanley, a boxer himself passed away. “It was one of the toughest times of my life,” Sarah says. But a couple days later she knew what she was going to do with the heartbreak. Sarah had decided she was going to remember Jake by running the boxing club.
Much to Sarah’s surprise the boxing club took off at Trent. “We don’t always have enough space, depending on how many people show up,” she said. They have had ninety members sign the waiver form and participate in a workout and around forty come regularly to their sessions Tuesday and Thursday night’s at the Trent Athletic Centre.
Alex Mitchell, a fourth year History and Anthropology student, has ten years’ experience with boxing and other combat sports. He helps Sarah with training and says he thinks the atmosphere they’ve created at the club keeps people coming. “We don’t have any alpha-male vibes going on in the club,” he says, “and I think that’s why people enjoy it. Nobody is worried that they are being judged, everyone is at a different level. We get to have fun, be goofy, but also do work.”
For some members it isn’t about the boxing necessarily. Sarah and Mitch try to make sure it’s always a good workout. “Some come to work out, some come for the boxing, it doesn’t really matter,” Sarah said.
The two trainers have varying levels of experience boxing, but they’ve managed to use it to their benefit. “Sarah is really good at teaching the fundamentals well. She’s been boxing for just under two years now,” Alex said “but sometimes that’s better because the basics are fresh in her mind and she know how to communicate with new comers. She’s a good teacher.” Alex is able to bring more knowledge and is able to work with the more experienced boxers in the club.
A difficulty with running so many classes is keeping things fresh every week, but Sarah takes ideas from wherever she can find them. “Sometimes I’ll workout at the other clubs in town and I’ll get new drills there. It’s nice to always be mixing it up a bit.”
The club isn’t allowed to charge membership fees per TCSA rules, but they have asked members to donate what they can and that money has gone towards Team 55 foundation in honour of Jake Stanley.
Despite the club’s success this year neither Sarah nor Alex are sure whether the club will continue next year. Alex is graduating from Trent and Sarah will going through the placement part of the nursing program, which means neither will be on campus.
Although the future of Jake Stanley Memorial boxing club is uncertain, Sarah says it has been a great way to remember Jake. “If Jake saw it, saw what was happening with the club,” Sarah smiles, “he would be revved, he would love it.”