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A sport for everybody

Sports: Orion Fencing
By Malia Riggs, Contributing Writer

Every young athlete dreams of competing or being a part of their sport at one of the highest and most elite levels in the world, the Olympics. For a local man and business owner, that will be a reality this summer in Paris for the 2024 Summer Olympics Games.

Justin Meehan, owner of Orion Fencing, a non-profit in Vancouver at 13504 Northeast 84th St. Suite 109, will be the Paralympic fencing coach at the summer Games where Meehan is projected to have two students compete. What started as a hobby at 12 years old in New York has turned into a lifelong career in teaching the sport that he loves.

“I picked up wheelchair fencing because I would have people who wanted to come and try fencing, but for some reason couldn’t. Everybody can fence, but not everybody’s going to be champion. Every person you’ve ever met can do some fencing. Two kids find two sticks, there’s a sword fight,” Meehan said.

Orion Fencing focuses on getting everybody involved, regardless of a handicap, hindrance or if the individual is able bodied. Meehan confirmed that he currently has two blind students learning how to fence.

However, Meehan also teaches able-bodied fencing to all age groups, with his extremely skilled and curated team. Not only does Orion Fencing offer summer camps for all skill levels, Meehan’s team is passionate about sharing fencing with local schools in Washington.

“We have an aggressive campaign to try and create new fencing programs at the public schools. We will train public school teachers to be fencing coaches, teachers would run the program, we provide the gear and lend one of our instructors to be the assistant coach to that teacher until they’re comfortable doing it themselves,” Meehan said.

The program is not limited to one coach per school. If a teacher wants to learn, Orion Fencing provides the instruction and the gear. The thought behind this is to keep costs down while building fencing teams within local schools and exposing kids to the world of fencing.

Orion Fencing’s team – and part of their mission – is getting everyone involved, and breaking the age-old stigma that fencing is expensive, pompous and dangerous, all of which are far from the truth, Meehan confirms.

“Fencing is not elitist. There’s no reason why kids can’t play. When you take a look at the costs against other high school sports, and when you look at the data for injuries, fencing comes in very safe. It’s also one of the five cheapest sports at the Olympics and NCAAs,” Meehan said. Meehan has owned Orion Fencing for just short of 10 years, but the name Orion came from Meehan’s extensive fencing background as a kid, named after the constellation Orion, which can be seen roughly from November to February in North America.

“Fencing is a winter sport in high school. When I would get up on the weekends to go to tournaments or practice before sunrise, low in the sky would be Orion setting. Practices after school, we got out at 6 o ‘clock and you’d see Orion rising. So I’ve always associated the constellation Orion with fencing season,” Meehan said.

Orion Fencing does accept donations on their website as they are a 501(c)(3), and has registration for their summer camps starting July 15th for ages as young as six-years-old on their website.

Orion, in Greek mythology means hunter, a fitting name with the motto, “Everybody fights, nobody quits,” signifying inner strength for all who participate at Orion Fencing.

Visit Orion Fencing online at: www.orionfencing.org/