Brian Stephenson is not just a power quality technician for DTE Energy, he is also a professional jouster, entertaining thousands of fans and festival goers all season.
Stephenson said he fell into the jousting hobby out of “dumb luck” about 12 years ago, when a close friend and entertainment director for the former Silver Leaf Renaissance Faire asked him to stand in as a squire for a show.
“I had always went to the fairs and enjoyed it like everyone else, never dressing up or anything, but when I got to work with the horses and the knights up close, I saw that they were like mini rockstars,” said Stephenson. “I decided I wouldn’t mind doing it.”
After fine-tuning his horse-riding skills and mastering his jousting techniques, Stephenson was called to fill in a position for another knight who was out with a concussion.
“The first hit was exhilarating. It was an adrenaline rush to hear all the fans cheering you on,” he said.
Stephenson explained that there is a difference between competitive jousting and choreographed. He has practiced both, but started out in competitive jousting, a much more aggressive form where the knights are actually trying to knock their competitors off of their horses. Jousting is a dangerous sport and Stephenson experienced many injuries from it.
“After my first concussion I had to really think to myself, ‘do I really want to do this? Is this what I signed up for?’ Then I looked at all of the people who cheered me on and supported me and I got back on the horse,” he said.
Stephenson correlates the importance of safety in his jousting career to his 16-year career at DTE Energy. Just the same as he checks his protective equipment before getting on his horse, he always checks his personal protective equipment and his environment before starting a job on an electrical line. His key to safety is to stay focused, avoid complacency and never trade safety for convenience.
Stephenson continues to joust at local fairs, including the Michigan Renaissance Festival, but sticks to more choreographed jousting. His new rescue horse, Oliver, is part of what keeps him going.
You can catch Stephenson and Oliver in action during the next season of the Michigan Renaissance Festival.