Posts Tagged ‘Saskatchewan’

A Tribute to a True Master

Maitre Claude Seguin

Maitre Claude Seguin

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:

Maitre Claude Seguin

Claude coaching Junior National Team Member Patrik Dula

“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.”
The 2011 Saskatchewan Provincial Fencing Team

The 2011 Saskatchewan Provincial Fencing Team


“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


Living the Canadian Dream and Fencing

Saskatoon Fencer Named to Canada’s National Fencing Team

Patrik Dula in 2011

Patrik Dula in 2011

On March 8th the Canadian Fencing Federation announced its newest team members to Canada’s National Fencing Team and Saskatoon’s Patrik Dula has joined fellow Saskatchewan athletes Shannon Comerford of Saskatoon and Philip Pitura of Regina, as representatives of Canada on the world stage.

Patrik Dula began his fencing career at age 6 in his homeland of Satu Mare, Romania.  Falling in love with the sport instantly because of his competitive nature, he won his first bronze medal fencing in Foil at the Romanian Nationals at age 8, and his first gold medal at Romanian Nationals at  age 11.

Patrik Dula receiving his 2011 Saskatchewan Men's Foil Fencer of the Year Award from President Pat Hayes-Schryer.

Patrik Dula receiving his 2011 Saskatchewan Men’s Foil Fencer of the Year Award from President Pat Hayes-Schryer.

Upset at having to leave both his sport and his country behind at age 12, when Dula’s family decided to immigrate to Saskatchewan, the family’s first order of settling in, involved enrolling Patrik at the Salle Seguin in Saskatoon, where he could continue his love of fencing, under the tutelage of Maitre Claude Seguin, the Saskatchewan Provincial Coach.

While Dula qualified via the Canadian Fencing Federation on domestic points to attend World’s in Jordan two years ago, due to his then immigration status, he was forced to turn down the offer.  Now as a proud Canadian and even prouder Saskatchewan citizen, Dula says “This year I am extremely happy to make it finally because it was my goal for many years in Canada.  I will never quit and I won’t stop until the Olympics because that is what my dream has been ever since I can remember.”

Patrik Dula competing at the Canada Cup in Saskatoon November 2011“Whenever times have been tough in the past,” continues Dula. “The quote that has always kept me going when obstacles out of my control were in my way, was:  “When they knock you down you need to get back up brush the dirt off of your jersey and go for the cup.”

Dula and fellow teammate Philip Pitura of Regina, will head to Porec, Croatia in April, representing Canada as they compete in the World Junior Cup. Following in the footsteps of fellow Saskatchewanian Jean Pierre Seguin who won the Cadet World Championships in 2002, in Antalya, Turkey in the Men’s Epee Division.

We know you’ll do it again!  Best of Luck Patrik!  From Your Canadian Fencing Family!

Regina Fencer Named to Canada’s National Fencing Team

Canada's Newest National Fencing Team Member - Phillip Pitura

Canada’s Newest National Fencing Team Member – Phillip Pitura

Today the Canadian Fencing Federation announced its newest team members to Canada’s National Fencing Team and Regina’s Phillip Pitura has joined fellow Saskatchewan athletes Shannon Comerford and Patrik Dula of Saskatoon, as representatives of Canada on the world stage.

Pitura, Saskatchewan’s Male Sabre Fencer of the Year for 2012, started fencing in 2007. With no intention to focus in on sabre, finding it too “barbaric” he focused instead on fencing’s other two weapons, foil and epee, before the lure of the sabre became too great.

Training with coach Kirk Brecht

Training with coach Kirk Brecht

No stranger to competing on the world stage, having recently finished in the top 16 at the Candem International European Cadet Saber tournament in January of this year, and in the top 32 in Louisville, Kentucky at the North American Championship, Pitura has also gained notoriety here in Canada, winning a Bronze medal at Nationals in Richmond, ON this past November, and more recently two Gold medals at the Wheatland Open tournament held last month in Moose Jaw.  A performance he’s expected to repeat this weekend, at the Sask Open Provincial Championships to be held in Regina (March 9-10th) at the Regina Fieldhouse.

Ranked #1 in Canada in the Cadet Men’s Sabre division, Pitura is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Canada’s other top Senior Male Sabre fencer, Phillipe Beaudry, who recently took part in the 2012 London Olympics.  A goal Pitura has set for himself for the 2016 Games.  A goal that’s one step closer to becoming a reality now as a member of Canada’s National Team.

Phillip is a proud member of the Regina Fencing team shown here having a little fun. Photo by JJ. Photography

Phillip is a proud member of the Regina Fencing team shown here having a little fun. Photo by JJ. Photography

From all your friends here in Saskatchewan Phillip – we say!  Good Luck and Congratulations!

Introducing our New Ring Master

The Saskatchewan Fencing Association has been limping  along without an Office Manager for over a year (thanks to the dedication of our past three presidents (Pat, Brian and Brian) and their equally dedicated Board.  But at long-last our tired-out volunteers can rejoice:  a new Office Manager has been hired, and she starts today!

New Office Manager for SFA

Marcia hard a work Day 1

Welcome to Marcia Coulic-Salahub of Prince Albert.  Some of you may recognize Marcia (pronounced Mar-SEE-ah) from some of the many tournaments of the past 8 years, rooting for and cheering on her now 16 year old son Stephaan.  A fencing mom extraordinaire, she’s also worked closely with our own coach extraordinaire Lynn Seguin in building up the Prince Albert Northern Knights Fencing Club, from a struggling tiny club, to a robust and member-filled entity.

While she started out “just trying to help out” – Marcia has since acted as the Club’s President for the past four years, and even played double duty as the Club’s Treasurer for a while, and triple duty as an assistant coach to Lynn when the need arose. (A role she’s loved so much she’s even toying with the idea of getting some coaching certification under her belt!).

Today we extend a big warm welcome to Marcia in her newest fencing role – that of our Ring Master.  It won’t be an easy job, with so many voices across the Province each with their own perspective.  It’s a tough job to balance the needs and wants as such a diverse group as ours, but considering she has three boys at home (husband Harold, teenaged Stephaan, and cutey patootie Jeremy (age 6)), she’s already well-versed in seeing to the needs of a diverse group!

Here’s a few words from Marcia herself as she starts her new role today from her home office in Prince Albert:

” I look forward to working with all of you to create a fantastic organization for everyone who has fallen in love with fencing.  If you have any questions or would like to drop me a line, I can be reached at or phone me at the SFA office 306-975-0823.”

Welcome Marcia!  We’re looking forward to seeing some of the great things you can do with our particular Fencing Circus!

Saskatchewan Fencing Association

The new SFA Office Manager Marcia Coulic-Salahub with sons Stephaan, Jeremy and husband Harold.

Tips for Attending National-Level Competitions

A great Tumblr blog from a site called:  Fencer Problems (you can visit them here) where someone asked them for advice on preparing for their first National Competition.  Take note – and Good Luck to those heading to the Canada Cup!

Canadian Fencing

The CSC’s (now Canada Cup) in Saskatoon November 2011 photo by Jay Scott


Tips for Attending National-Level Competitions

1) The venue always looks scary and huge at first compared to local *stuff*. Don’t be scared.
2) People will scream, people will act like hot sh*t, people will argue, people will do anything it takes to win. Do the same thing but be classy about it, okay? You want to scream after scoring a touch, scream. You think you won a point but the ref gives it to someone else, question the call POLITELY and don’t continue arguing once they explain their reasoning. You want to act like hot sh*t, go for it, be confident, but don’t forget to be nice as well! Shake your opponents hand, greet people in your pool, shake hands with the ref once the pool/DE is over. Confidence doesn’t translate into douchebaggery/a$$hole-ness (thats a word, now)

3) bring aLL OF YOUR WIRES AND BLADES AND LAMES AND JUST BRING EVERYTHING YOU OWN. chances are something’s not gonna pass equipment check.

4) If you’re travelling with your club, stick with your club. If you’re travelling alone, make friends as soon as possible.

5) Chances are you’re going to want to warm up with someone before you start. If you go up to a bunch of kids from the same club, depending on who they are, they might be weary to train with you. People don’t like practicing with people outside of their friends/club because they don’t want to give away too much of their techniques, It sounds mean, but stick with other people that are travelling alone. They’re looking for a warm up buddy too.

6) Don’t be intimidated. Don’t say you’re intimidated. Don’t act intimidated. Unless you have a white knight in your vicinity, people will assume you’re a noobie and thus an easy win.

7) Everyone here is in this to win. This is for fun, but this is also a national competition. Don’t assume people are here to make friends. Some people will lie and cheat. It sucks, but don’t succumb to that.

8) Don’t be upset if you get cut after pools. Sh*t happens.

9) If you don’t want people cheering for you because it’s distracting, tell them.

10) Eat something delicious afterwards. Do something really really fun. I don’t care if you finished last, you deserve it.

A First-Time Medal at Nationals

Saskatchewan Fencing Association

Kirsten VanMarion in action at the CSC’s held November 2011 in Saskatoon, SK  Photo by Jay Scott

In January of 2012 Kirsten VanMarion, a young epeeist out of the Asquith Fencing Club, took a giant leap in her fencing development when she went to her first National tournament outside of Saskatchewan.  The competition was held in Montreal, QC  and Kirsten was competing in the U-15 event.

Saskatchewan Fencing AssociationSaskatchewan Fencing Association

Kirsten VanMarion CSC’s Saskatoon, Nov 2011 Photo by Jay Scott

As the day progressed Kirsten found herself doing very well in pooles, ranking high enough to get a bye into the first round of D.E. ‘s (Direct Eliminations), propelling her straight into Round 2.  A match, which at the end of time, saw Kirsten and her opponent evenly tied at 7-7 and needing to head into overtime.  Receiving priority, Kirsten was hoping to be able to stall long enough for time to simply run out, but a series of three to four doubles, had her battling just to stay even.  With less than 20 seconds on the clock, and with one foot off of the end of the piste, her opponent attacked.  Defending herself they scored another double, that did not register with her opponent.  Believing she had scored a single, she let out a scream of victory, and turned her back on Kirsten, a critical mistake that would cost her the match, leaving Kirsten the victor.

Saskatchewan Fencing AssociationSaskatchewan Fencing Association

Kirsten VanMarion CSC’s Saskatoon, Nov 2011. Photo by Jay Scott

“I was very relieved for it to be over,” says Kirsten.  “Since I was almost pushed off the end.  After the bout her coach came and congratulated me on a job well done and complimented me on a few of the things that I did.”

“I lost my next D.E. but luckily it wasn’t a total blow-out, I only lost by a couple points.”

At the end of the day, when all was said and done, Kirsten placed third, and received a Bronze medal, not only the first time she medalled beyond Saskatchewan’s borders, but also the first time she had ever medalled at a National level tournament.  An experience she won’t soon forget, especially as it all happened on the day of her 14th birthday.

Sadly, none of her teammates were able to witness her victory, as they had all headed to the airport to catch their flights back to Saskatchewan.  But just as she has been for nearly all of her bouts, her Mom Allison was there by her side and in her corner cheering her on to victory.  A victory made all that much sweeter, because it was her first.


Saskatchewan Fencing Association

Kirsten VanMarion (far right in Asquith-red socks) won a bronze, her first National Medal at the CSC’s in Montreal in January of 2012.

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