SAC Fencer Earns Spot on National Team

Fencer Michael Hastings-Grgas has been named to Team Canada to compete in Men's Foil in the 2013 Junior & Cadet Pan American Fencing Championships. The event takes place Feb. 6-9 in Ponce, Puerto Rico.

The 6’5½” grade 12 student has trained in foil, the most popular of the sport’s three styles, for six years, the last two at the competitive level. In fact, it was SAC’s fencing program that initially attracted Michael to SAC, and his success and leadership as a captain has helped to elevate fencing at the School from a club to a competitive team.

Michael also trains at two Toronto fencing clubs and competes in upwards of 20 tournaments per year. He is dedicated to the sport of fencing where he has been recognized for his timing, speed, and technique.This season he’s participated in two North American Cups; a Division 2 Cup, where he placed third; and two world cups: London, England, this past November, and Poland in late December where he finished top 64 in the world. He currently ranks 4th in Canada for Junior Men’s Foil (Under 20).

An email from the Canadian Fencing Federation (CFF) a couple days before Christmas to say he’d earned a spot on the national team “was an early Christmas gift,” says Michael, noting that his whole family – mother Margaret, father Nick and brother David, who attends grade 10 at SAC, will be travelling to Puerto Rico with him next month.

“My family is super excited and 100 per cent behind me,” says Michael. He is also appreciative of the “supportive culture of excellence” at St. Andrew’s that allows him to keep up with school while pursuing his passion on the world stage. “The laptop program allows me to bring school with me; otherwise I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.”

In Puerto Rico, Michael and his three teammates will be coached by Paul Apsimon, the national team coach from Ottawa. The main team competition involves nine-bouts with players rotating in, followed by an individual event. “Canadians typically do pretty well at this event so I’m hopeful of a good showing,” adds Michael.

The day after his return from the Pan American Championships, Michael flies to France to compete in a third Junior World Cup tournament. Pending his performance there, there is a chance to compete in the Junior World Cup Championships in Croatia with the top fencers in the world.

When the season resumes next fall, Michael plans to be attending one of the U.S. or Canadian universities he’s applied to that boast a strong fencing program. And now that he’s cracked the national team, he hopes scholarship opportunities might come his way.

In the longer-term, his sights are set on competing in the Summer Olympics. “This is my true passion, my life. I never get bored,” adds Michael. And combined with his talent and dedication, it’s a dream he’s well-equipped to pursue.

Click here to watch a clip of Michael in competition.

Story by Cindy Veitch
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