Fencing club welcomes handicapped members

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Eleven-year-old Wyatt Sigsbury (left) receives a fencing lesson from instructor Dusty Brooks (right). (Photo by ALEXANDRA LAMBDIN, for The Muleskinner)
Eleven-year-old Wyatt Sigsbury (left) receives a fencing lesson from instructor Dusty Brooks (right). (Photo by ALEXANDRA LAMBDIN, for The Muleskinner)

Story by ALEXANDRA LAMBDIN, for The Muleskinner—
Individuals pair off into groups of two as they ready themselves for hand-to-hand combat with lightweight fencing swords – one in a chair, the other in a wheelchair. The clanking of swords resonates in the air as the swords clash.
The newest disabled member of the UCM Fencing Club is an 11-year-old boy named Wyatt Sigsbury. He ends his evening having won a match with the instructor, Dusty Brooks. Wyatt smiles, proudly points at Brooks and says, “I beat you!”
Wyatt wears a prosthetic leg. His 9-year-old brother, Erich, who is not disabled, has also joined the club.
Their mother, Kim Sigsbury, said they found out about the fencing club after running into Brooks at the pool.
He approached the Sigsbury family upon seeing Wyatt’s leg. He explained to them that the club now has a wheelchair for members who are disabled.
The Sigsbury’s have been coming for three weeks now.
“He really likes it because it’s the only sport he can be a part of because he can’t run,” Kim said.
Last semester, Brooks began to talk to the fencing club about the possibility of accepting members who are disabled.
This spring they were able to get a wheelchair and now have six disabled members who intermittently attend.
Brooks said they have members who have a range of disabilities, from physical handicaps to Autism. Brooks said the club has several benefits for them.
“It’s a confidence booster and there are obvious physical benefits of physical activity,” Brooks said. “Also, there is the advantage of being a part of a social group. We are social animals. When we lack an extended family it literally creates stress. So for a number of us the club acts as a surrogate family. And it’s fun. I like to have fun.”
Brooks is an Army veteran and was inspired to involve disabled members because some of his war buddies are disabled.
“I am an Iraq and Afghanistan vet and I have a couple of buddies who have lost body parts,” Brooks said. “A few have mobility issues primarily because of blasts and amputation.
“One of my buddies lost one leg and part of another in Afghanistan. There’s a number of vets here with varying degrees of mobility issues.”
The Fencing Club meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7–9 p.m. in the Lovinger gym. Equipment is provided, and the club welcomes non-students.
For more information contact Michelle Hutchison, president of the Fencing Club, at 816-507-7395 or [email protected]