Break out the armor and sharpen your lance—jousting is coming to Albion College.
Beginning in Fall 2011, the Albion College Equestrian Program will add a jousting team. The squad will compete in the Midwest Jousting Conference. Albion is following the example of other schools around the state.
“It’s the next logical step for our program to add jousting,” said Horrace Ryder, director of the equestrian program. “Programs at bigger schools have all begun jousting. It’s about time we followed suit.”
Some current members of the equestrian program are getting a head start. Gretchen Saddler, Chelsea junior, and Sally Mares, Crump first-year, have been training since early March.
“It was just great to get that armor on,” Saddler said. “I’m finally starting to get used to the feeling of a big lance in my hand.”
Both students have previous experience in jousting. Saddler competed on her high school jousting team. Mares, meanwhile, comes from a family with an extensive jousting pedigree.
“Both of my parents jousted professionally, and my grandfather was knighted in England for his jousting prowess,” Mares said. “I spent most of my childhood jousting my brothers in the backyard.”
Although Saddler and Mares are both skilled riders, there is some concern that they are undersized to joust in the M.J.C.. However, Saddler (245 pounds) and Mares (250 pounds) are both confident they will be able to compete.
“I’m not worried,” Saddler said. “I’ve handled bigger girls before. I know what to expect.”
In the meantime, Ryder has been recruiting women from across the midwest to ride for Albion.
“We’ve got some big, strong women who will be riding for us next fall,” Rider said. “I think they’re going to be able to come in and make a difference right away.”
Rider is an attractive coach to joust for. He boasts a wealth of jousting experience, including three American Jousting Association championships, and a World Jousting Championship in 1985. Hallvet was even named to The A.J.A.’s All Century Team.
“It’s so great to ride for a coach like Horrace,” Mares said. “I’ve never met someone with jousting credentials like his.”
As the fall season draws closer, Saddler believes the anticipation for jousting will continue to grow.
“There’s a sense of excitement amongst the entire program,” Saddler said. “We all can feel it.”