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Induction ceremony in Summerside on Nov. 9
SUMMERSIDE – Charlottetown’s Lothar Zimmermann, who started the sport of fencing in the province exactly 50 years ago, will be recognized for his contributions on Nov. 9.
That’s when he, along with curlers Kathy O’Rourke and Peter MacDonald and Gerard Smith, who has devoted a lifetime to hockey, baseball and harness racing as an athlete, coach and official, will be inducted into the P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame at Credit Union Place in Summerside.
Tickets for the inductions, which are sponsored by the P.E.I. Mutual Insurance Company, are available from Sport P.E.I., or by contacting Nick Murray at (902)-393-5474. Ticket price is $45.
Zimmermann, born in Germany but raised in Hamilton, Ont., took up fencing while at McMaster University. After being hired by Prince of Wales College in the mid-1960s, and finding there was no fencing on the Island, he was encouraged to start up the sport by campus athletics director Earl Nicholson, who provided much-needed resources to help get the sport up and running. When the University of Prince Edward Island was formed a year or so later, so was the first UPEI Fencing Club.
The early years featured the club steadily growing under Zimmermann’s guidance, despite members having to constantly travel off-Island for meaningful competition. The club started to attract young members from outside the university, and Zimmermann also formed the P.E.I. Fencing Association, which gave the sport credibility and guidance by the national body.
In addition to his main coaching role, Zimmermann acted as head armorer in charge of equipment, secretary, team manager and university liaison.
He has been involved in preparing athletes for numerous Canada Games and national competitions. One of his proudest moments was helping to train and organize the Island team for the 1991 Canada Winter Games, with fencing taking the spotlight with competition held at Birchwood Intermediate School in Charlottetown.
Despite being a small sport in terms of numbers, Island fencers performed well in competition. The club and Zimmermann’s reputation began to grow across the country. School-age children joined and were coached by Zimmermann, and many went on to perform at the highest levels.
Montague’s Matthew Coe won a medal at the 2003 Canada Games, and two-time Olympian and future Hall of Famer Kara Grant had fencing as one of her five disciplines in Modern Pentathlon.
Zimmermann’s passion and dedication to the sport, always given freely and without recompense, has in turn encouraged former athletes to step up and coach themselves. Once an athlete has been through the UPEI Fencing Club, they have become part of a family. Zimmermann has always embraced and maintained relationships with his past fencers, including hosting an annual Christmas Epee Challenge, which allows both past and current club members to connect.
In terms of passion, commitment, leadership and dedication, Lothar Zimmermann makes an excellent inductee for the 2018 P.E.I. Sports Hall of Fame.