Recently our Maitre Claude Seguin celebrated his 65th Birthday. A milestone by any means, but for someone like Claude it is also the marking of a 40 year career in Fencing, almost 34 of which have been set in Saskatchewan. You cannot say the word “fencing” in Saskatchewan and not say the name Claude Seguin in the same breath, for they are one and the same. We have a presence in this sport thanks to the dedication of this Maitre who was born in Ontario, but chose to head out West to make his mark on the sport. A Maitre who has been sought the world over for his expertise, but who instead of leading the glamourous life he might have had in New York, or Europe decided instead to create his own legacy right here on the Prairies.
Here are just a few (not all) of his accomplishments:
Claude Seguin – A Timeline in History
- 1973 – began his coaching career in Ontario.
- 1976 – coached in Manitoba for the next 3 years.
- 1979 – became head coach of the Saskatoon Fencing Club and Provincial Coach of the Saskatchewan Fencing Association.
- 1982 – Coach of the Saskatchewan Team at the Western Canada Summer Games
- 1986 – The first Canadian to achieve the title of Maitre (Achieved NCI Level IV in all three weapons)
- 1987 – Coach of the Saskatchewan Team at the Western Canada Summer Games
- 1988 – Saskatchewan Dairy Producers Coach of the Year
- 1990 – Coach of the Saskatchewan Team at the Western Canada Summer Games
- 1990 – 1996 – Vice President of the Coaches Association of Saskatchewan
- 1990 – 2000 Coach of Saskatchewan Team at 10 World Cadet Championships
- 1991 – Coach of the Saskatchewan Team at the Canada Games
- 1991 – Coach of the Canadian Team at the World University Games (Sheffield, England)
- 1992 – Prepared and successfully qualified one Canadian fencer for the Barcelona Olympics (Allan Francis)
- 1992 – Fencing Academy of Canada Junior Development Coach of the Year
- 1993 – Fencing Academy of Canada Junior Development Coach of the Year
- 1995 – Coach of the Saskatchewan Team at the Canada Games
- 1995 – Coach of the Canadian Team at the World Universtiy Games (Fukuoka, Japan)
- 1996 – Fencing Academy of Canada Junior Development Coach of the Year
- 1999 – Coach of the Saskatchewan Team at the Canada Games
- 2002 – Coach of the Canadian National Junior Epee Team World Junior Championships (Antalya, Turkey) – where son Jean-Pierre won the World Cadet Championships in epee.
- 2003 – Advisor to the Canada Games
- 2003 – Coach of the Canadian National Junior Epee Team World Junior Championships (Plovdiv, Bulgaria)
- 2004 – Coach of the Canadian National Junior Epee Team World Junior Championships (Linz, Austria)
- 2006 – Inducted into the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame
- Ongoing – Consistently has placed at least one fencer from Saskatchewan on the National Team each year.
- Ongoing – Prepared coaches at all levels, including Level IV, and runs a coaching clinic each summer.
From his bio on the SFA Website:
“Claude has represented Canada in every possible way in the sport from being a team coach, referee, manager, delegate, armourer and medic, frequently all at the same time, and performing well at all tasks. His apprenticeship coaching program is the model upon which other tutelage programs have been established, and he carries on his successful program among such distant cities as Saskatoon, Regina, Moose Jaw and Prince Albert, and Swift Current. Among his best athletes have been 2002 World Champion Jean-Pierre Seguin, 1992 Olympian Allan Francis, National Women’s Foil team member Lavinia Surdu, and Junior National team members Tarsch Bakos in épée, Kent Shirley in foil, and National Team Member of the Women’s Foil Fencing Team Shannon Comerford, as well as many other Cadet, Junior, and Senior National team members.”
Today marks a milestone for Claude’s life, and the continuation of the legacy he has built here in Saskatchewan, but he’s not done yet. For those who have yet to experience the power of Claude not to worry – he has a new generation of fencers coming up in his Saskatchewan system, either under his direct tutelage, or under the coaches that he helped to train.
As he marks this milestone in his life, we honour our Maitre with words of heartfelt thanks, words of humour, and words that are Claude’s very own:
A few of our favourite “Claude-isms”
(Thanks to John Brunning for sharing!)
“If Joe Schmuck from nowhere Sask. can do it ….”“Since you are leading the drills anyway perhaps you should take a coaching course.”
“Claude has always made me laugh and tells it like it is. Recently he told me that my “baby” (19 year old) needs to cut off all of his curls (like his team mates did for him when he did his first European epee tour a year and a half ago) and cut the apron strings! My boy is now a young man who has learned to love fencing from the impact that Claude has had on his life. Justin feels that Claude has inspired him to become a better person through becoming a better athlete.”
~ James Neumeyer
“Claude’s enthusiasm and commitment to the sport of fencing is first rate. His knowledge and pursuit of athlete development has helped many fencers achieve world class rankings. He deserves a joyous birthday and a year ahead filled with great memories!”
~ Kathy Nazarali, SFC registrar
“Ah Claude… hearing them call our names at the airport and him casually saying “Good – time for one last cigarette”. Overheard during a lesson: “Relax, relax goddammit or I’ll kill you.” (he meant that the student needed to be relaxed in order to react correctly, but it sounds way better out of context). Getting an exhausting lesson just before pools at an elite circuit tournament in Montreal (and me in way over my head), and consequently roaring through the pools while all my opponents were just starting to wake up. Driving back up from Regina at 2:00 in the morning. It’s endless, really. Fencing + Saskatchewan = Claude. Nuff said.”
~ Jeff O’Brien, Asquith Fencer
“To this day Claude advocates a cold ball of spaghetti as a good pre-competition snack. It makes me laugh every time.”
~ Erica Emery, Regina Fencer
“While at the Canadian National Championships in Edmonton In the spring of 1983, Claude was, shall we say, “less than thrilled” to have the Edmonton police come into the gym looking for him. Evidently, he had been parking illegally and feared the jig was up. At least, that is the reason he gave for being apprehensive. He was greatly relieved to learn they were only looking for him to rescue my daughter. She was one of two kids from Saskatchewan who participated in a program that year to encourage youth to take up fencing. The program was run by the Candian Fencing Federation (CFA at that time). It provided chaperones and brought young fencers to the nationals from across the country. Due to some mix-up, the Saskatchewan fencers were abandoned at their residence and weren’t taken to the airport for their flight home. Without cell phones, and barely any computers in use, I had no way of contacting anyone at the tournament other than to call the police.”
~Mike Weaver, Past President Saskatoon Fencing Club
Claude is the type of coach that will always be there for you no matter what. Whether it be a shoulder to cry on, an ear to listen, or a word of advice he is always there to help his athletes do their best. His passion and commitment to fencing is unrivalled – on par with his ability to chat!
~Shannon Comerford, Saskatchewan Provincial Team Member and Member of the Canadian Nation Women’s Foil Fencing Team