Here is a great article from guest blogger, Dr. Matthew Mitchell, Dr. Matt is a fencing parent, as well as a competitive epee and saber fencer. In his spare time, Dr. Matt likes to relax by playing ice hockey.
Are you a high school fencer? Parent of a high school fencer? Mark your calendar for the US Association of Collegiate Fencing Clubs national championship for April 6 and 7, and make your way to the Sportsplex in Trevose, Bucks County (off Bustleton Pike, just north of Street Road).
Why? Because there’ll be club fencing teams from more than 40 colleges there, probably some from colleges you are considering applying to. You’ll get a chance to see the teams in action, meet the students who fence for them, and maybe move some of those schools up or down on your list.
Why club level college fencing and not an NCAA program? Several possible reasons.
- The schools you’re interested in for academic or other reasons don’t sponsor fencing at the varsity level.
- You love to fence, but don’t have the physical tools or the tournament results that get NCAA coaches interested in recruiting you.
- You think there’ll be too much pressure in an NCAA program, and you want more balance between fencing, academics, and the other aspects of college life.
- The college you want to go to has varsity fencing for women but not for men.
My son Eric had a great experience fencing for RIT. It made the transition to college life easier, since he knew there was a group he could be a part of right from the start; he traveled to places like Vassar and Michigan State for tournaments; he had some success both as an individual and as part of the team; and his parents and grandparents got to watch him compete in the Hudson River Invitational, which was livestreamed online.
College fencing clubs run the gamut from casual groups that get together once a week to well-established teams with budget for coaching and equipment. Many of the stronger clubs regularly fence against NCAA teams, so you can have the best of both worlds. Locally, both the MACFA men’s and NIWFA women’s fencing conferences include both NCAA and club programs as equal members of the conference. Among the club-level schools in those conferences are Army and Navy, Rutgers, Maryland, Bryn Mawr, TCNJ (Trenton State), and Cornell (men). Further away from us, club teams that also get to compete against NCAA teams include RIT, UMass, Boston University, Dartmouth, Stony Brook, Chicago, and Florida, just to name a few. The full list of schools coming to USACFC, and the schedule of each day’s events, is at http://www.usacfc.org/.