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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Junction Gladiators reflect on Middle Ages through combat, art

MSU+Alumni+Mary+Kate+Smith%2C+Alex+Kolassa%2C+Steven+Breland%2C+and+instructor+Steve+Canfield+are+in+SCA.
Courtesy Photo | April Edwards

MSU Alumni Mary Kate Smith, Alex Kolassa, Steven Breland, and instructor Steve Canfield are in SCA.

Walking through campus is often an interesting affair. Whether it is people dressed as cartoon characters, small groups engaging in handstand contests or children playing flag football in the intramural field, there is almost always something going on. One such spectacle has been colloquially dubbed “the Junction Gladiators.”
Kelsey Dembo, a freshman electrical engineering major, recalled her first time witnessing the Gladiators in action. 
“It was pretty shocking because even though they were wearing ‘armor’ it still was very intense and looked like it hurt,” Dembo said. “I was kind of distracted, but my first thought was ‘Wow, they got a club for everything here.’”
The Gladiators are part of a larger network than Mississippi State University, however. They belong to the local chapter of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a national organization dedicated to recreating the various arts of the Middle Ages and Renaissance period. This includes things like combat, armoring, weaving, metalwork, calligraphy, dance and more, according to their main website.
The communities are divided by region into “kingdoms” with the kingdom encompassing Mississippi being called “Gleann Abhann.” The local group is known as the “Shire of Tor an Riogh.”
Steve Canfield is a former MSU student and current instructor in information societies. Canfield became involved with SCA in North Carolina before he transferred to MSU in his sophomore year and joined the local group here. Canfield has remained involved with the group at MSU since 1987.
Canfield is one of the infamous Gladiators, spending his Monday evenings in the Junction at “fighter practice.” Canfield emphasized the non-violent aspects of the club.
“While fighting is kind of our most visible activity, most arts & crafts that were practiced in the Middle Ages are studied, and oftentimes reproduced by folks in our club,” Canfield said. “We do weekend events where we have a tournament on Saturday, and camp out Friday & Saturday nights.”
Canfield’s wife is also involved in SCA. April Edwards is a retired secretary for the baseball office after working ther for 25 years and, at the age of 52 years old, is a current student in the College of Art, Architecture and Design.
Edwards found SCA her freshman year at an MSU activity fair and has been involved for over three decades now. While she does not share her husband’s passion for fighting, Edwards mentioned trying her hand at hobbies such as shoemaking and spinning.
“The SCA is a hobby aggregator, meaning that because of the SCA I now sew, knit, paint silk banners, embroidery, dye fabric, quilt and make felt hats,” Edwards said.
Edwards also cited the friendships she has made as her favorite part of the organization.
Jane Malley is also a dedicated long-term member of SCA. Malley, a former student and current accountant for the MSU Chemistry Laboratory, became  involved with SCA in 1993, thanks to her older sister. Malley offered a rather comprehensive view of the organization.
“Besides the arts and sciences there is service, as the organization runs on volunteers, and martial arts i.e. heavy fighting, fencing, live weapons and archery. Then there are the people who also enjoy historical recreation and become lifelong friends,” Malley said.
Malley personally engages in calligraphy, illumination, embroidery, garb construction, vint and brew, glass bead making, stone-carving, weaving and more.
SCA is an organization for everyone with nearly any sort of Renaissance-like hobby. This is an opportunity for all Starkville residents to learn and expand upon their skills.
Malley said that potential new members can find their community through the organization website and join through there.
Canfield emphasized the local group’s Facebook page as the easiest method of contact for “Starkvillians.” They have monthly business meetings and weekly fighter practices.
The gladiators’ theatrics can be witnessed Mondays at 5:30 p.m. in the Junction next to the Lloyd-Ricks-Watson Building.

About the Contributor
Haylee Morman, Staff Writer
Haylee Morman is a senior English major. Haylee is currently a staff writer for The Reflector.
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Junction Gladiators reflect on Middle Ages through combat, art