Foil, sabre or épée – choose your weapon.
Trent Valley Fencing is a group which “strives to promote sportsmanship, team and healthy student living through the sport of fencing,” says Head Coach Courtney McDonnell.
“We are an inclusive organization that will help students develop the skills to participate in competitive tournaments throughout Ontario and nurture a love for the sport beyond the end of university careers.”
Originally a varsity team, fencing at Trent began in the 1970’s, making it one of the oldest sports teams on campus. To this day, the team maintains its pride as wielders of the Trent Excalibur.
In 2013, after receiving the results of an external review, the Athletics department decided to cut varsity funding for the team as part of a goal to meet a demand for “gender equality, increase competitiveness in sports for which Trent is known to have success, and help build a more sustainable funding model,” according to a subsequent statement.
It was thought by the then-Director of Athletics that the fencing team was in a good position to manage without varsity funding, and so it was: “Myself and the remaining team members felt very strongly that fencing should continue to represent Trent University, and created the club as a student group,” later that year, McDonnell explained.
“In the years since, we have had many significant accomplishments and have developed a strong working relationship with Athletics while maintaining our student club status.”
The group sought and acquired levy funding in 2015.
As a spiritual successor to the varsity team, the levy is used for equipment maintenance, travel costs for provincial tournaments, and running a Learn to Fence program.
McDonnell feels that the group’s “gives students the opportunity to experience one of the modern Olympic sports in a safe learning environment for a very reasonable cost.”
“It [also] helps maintain a history with Trent.”
No stranger to having the rug pulled out from under their feet, she remains optimistic about the future of TVF.
“We are cautiously budgeting by reducing spending and estimating lower levy amounts. We have endured hardships in the past, and feel that working together we’re able to overcome them,” she said. “[Besides], it’s pretty silly to have a sword as a mascot but not support the fencing team.”