Fencing In College: A Guide for Aspiring Student-Athletes

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Fencing In College: A Guide for Aspiring Student-Athletes

Fencing is a unique and exciting sport gaining popularity at the college level. For talented fencers with aspirations of continuing the sport competitively in college, there are several key considerations when navigating the recruiting process and competing at the NCAA level.

What Colleges Offer Fencing Programs?

Ivy League and Other Top Schools

Many Ivy League schools, such as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania, have prestigious fencing programs that attract top recruits. Beyond the Ivies, other highly regarded fencing colleges include Stanford, MIT, Duke, Northwestern, Notre Dame, and Ohio State. 

Division 1, 2, and 3 College Fencing 

Fencing is an NCAA-sponsored sport at the Division 1, Division 2, and Division 3 levels. D1 schools typically offer the most robust competitive fencing programs and athletic scholarships. There are around 40-50 D1 colleges with varsity fencing teams. D2 has fewer fencing schools, while D3 programs are often smaller teams focused more on participation than competition.

Men’s and Women’s College Fencing

Both men’s and women’s fencing are NCAA-sanctioned college sports. Schools may have separate men’s and women’s fencing teams or in some cases, combined co-ed teams. Top fencers on college teams may go on to compete at national and international levels after graduation.

Key Factors In the College Fencing Recruiting Process

Reaching Out to Coaches 

Making direct contact with college fencing coaches is extremely important. Send personalized emails with your competition results, ranking, and interest in their program. Follow up persistently to get on their radar.

Attending Prospective Campuses

Plan campus visits to get a feel for the athletics program, coaching staff, and overall environment. Official visits allow face-to-face meetings with coaches to assess team/cultural fit.

Considering Academics and Other Factors

Along with fencing, examine academic offerings, campus culture, location, scholarship money, and other elements. Find the best overall fit.

Leveraging High School Experience

Club, high school, and individual competition results help display your capabilities. But college potential matters more than high school achievements alone.

What To Expect Competing In College Fencing

Time Commitment

Prepare for an intense time commitment with 20+ hours a week spent on fencing practice, training, conditioning and competition. Manage your academic workload carefully.

Specialized Training

College fencing involves high-level specialized training under top coaches. You’ll improve technical skills, physical conditioning, strategy, and mental toughness. Expect a major step up from high school competition.

Team Dynamic

Contribute your talents to the team dynamic. Bond with teammates over rigorous practices, traveling to events and striving for collective success.

Managing Academics

Balancing athletics and academics takes discipline. Know that academics come first; your student-athlete schedule will make time management skills essential.

Here is an updated conclusion and call to action for parents:


The earlier your child begins fencing, the greater their long-term potential in the sport. Starting as young as 6 or 7 years old allows time to develop solid fundamentals, skills, and passion.

The top college fencing recruits start early. They earn high rankings and results in regional and national youth circuits and high school competitions. Their technical prowess comes from years of quality coaching and training. Make an early commitment to your child’s fencing future. Invest in training and equipment. Travel to competitions. Get them in front of college coaches by ages 12-14.

The years of preparation will pay dividends when college scholarship offers roll in. Your early guidance and support will give your fencer the best chance to fence competitively at a top college program. Their future as a college student-athlete starts with the foundation you help build today. Don’t wait – their college fencing journey begins now. The earlier they start, the higher they’ll climb.

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FAQs: Key Questions About College Fencing

How do scholarships work for college fencing recruits?

– Fencing scholarships are typically partial awards distributed across team rosters, not full rides. Manage expectations, as amounts may depend on funding availability.

What is the difference in recruiting between D1, D2, and D3 fencing? 

– D1 and D2 coaches actively recruit the most promising prospects, while D3 focuses more on roster fit. D1 offers the most robust scholarships.

What makes a strong college fencing recruit?

– Coaches look for athletic potential, positive attitude, good work ethic, academic diligence, coachability, and team chemistry. 

Can you make a college team as a “walk-on”?

– Yes, some fencers join teams through tryouts as walk-ons outside the recruiting process, though roster spots are limited. Manage expectations realistically.

How early should you start contacting college fencing coaches?

– Reach out to coaches starting freshman or sophomore year. Build relationships over time. Peak recruiting activity happens in junior and senior years.

In summary, college fencing requires dedication and preparation but can be an incredibly rewarding experience. With proper guidance, tenacity, and perspective, driven fencers can fulfill their athletic and academic aspirations through college fencing.

Elsayed Emara
Elsayed Emara
Hi, I'm Coach Emara, a contributor to this blog and Head Coach/Program Director at Fortune Fencing. With over two decades of coaching experience and a former stint as an Olympian fencer for Egypt, I have a wealth of expertise to share. I've trained many competitive fencers to national and international success. As the Vice President of the Midwest Fencing Coaches Association and a former educator at Illinois Central Community College, I'm eager to use this platform to share insights from my journey and inspire the next generation of fencers.

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