Best Boarding School for Fencing?

Thanks for any guidance, totally new to BS search process… Lawrenceville?

Paging @SevenDad

Saturday classes at Lville will make it difficult to attend tournaments over the weekend. Plus there is a sports requirement for all 3 seasons. You need a waiver to do fencing year round.

My son used to fence and I noticed fencers from the Storm King School at tournaments as well as the Culver Academy.

I currently go to Lawrenceville and a good friend of mine is a top fencer; their older sibling was also recruited for fencing.

They are not satisfied with the school’s handling of fencing, both before and during COVID. From what I’ve heard, the team has good fencers, but the coaching and school support (esp. for those who want to attend outside tournaments) is not very good. They would often also have to leave campus over weekends or even on weekdays to go to said tournaments, and did sessions off-campus 2x per week; while this was possible freshman year, I’m unsure of what they’ll be doing now given the heightened academic pressure.

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To better answer your question, I have to ask more questions:

  • How good/how involved in the sport are you (or if you’re a parent, your child)?
  • What is your/your child’s ultimate goal — for your high school experience and your college experience (both athletically and academically)?
  • What weapon do you/does your child fence?

If you scan the rosters of most D1 programs (including Ivies), you won’t see too many boarding schools listed — there are good reasons why…including a few mentioned by folks above. As one very top-of-mind data point, Lee Kiefer, the ND grad who just won Olympic gold in women’s foil (and arguably the best WF the US has ever produced) went to her local public high school.

(FYI, one of my daughters is a fencer who was recruited by a few schools…so I’ve been involved in her process from Y10 to D1.)

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Depending on where you live one option to consider may be a school with a 5-day boarding option. That way weekends are yours to attend tournaments elsewhere.

@SevenDad is being modest. He knows EVERYTHING about fencing recruiting and fencers at BS!

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First of all, thanks to all for your responses! I am so grateful.

@SevenDad, I truly appreciate the insights from one who knows the drill!
I’m the parent. Daughter is at an academically rigorous country day school in NY and she started as a saber fencer less than 2 years ago. Athletic and quick (former travel lax player), ramping up to train 3X a week at a nearby tournament club in fall. Will attend all tournaments she qualifies for. She expressed interest in BS. She is interested in college level and ideally being recruited. Perhaps we are better off staying put?

If you are in the NYC area and happy with your day school experience, that could be your best bet, IMO. Primarily because it gives your daughter access to some of the top saber clubs in the country (including FC and Manhattan Fencing) and the flexibility to travel when needed on weekends (for locals, regionals, and NACs — and if/when she’s at that level, internationals).

Because she’s a sabreuse, maybe consider Dana Hall in Wellesley so she could train at Zeta? Or Oregon Episcopal School so she could train at OFA? Culver has a varsity fencing team and kids can train at Escrime du Lac, a club that’s run by ND’s coaches.

While Lawrenceville has a varsity fencing team and regularly sends fencers to top D1 programs…they don’t seem to make it easy for kids to train at outside clubs year-round. That said, it’s located very close to Princeton, whose head coach (Zoltan Dudas) runs a 3-weapon club called TigerZ (note that during the pandemic, the PU fencing gym was restricted to PU students/athletes…according to info online, club seems to still be closed).

My daughter who fences started her BS career at Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY — and then, for a variety of reasons, decided to transfer after two years. She finished her high school experience at George School in Newtown, PA and trained at TigerZ (and Fencers Club)…lots of logistical issues to sort out her Junior and Senior years.

If you haven’t already discovered it, there is a thread in the Athletic Recruiting sub-forum that is dedicated to fencing.

https://talk.collegeconfidential.com/t/the-only-college-fencing-recruiting-thread-you-need-to-read

I would definitely read through that thread. FWIW, I think it’s critical to know EXACTLY where you stand relative to others in your recruiting year before targeting any colleges/programs. Being on the national points lists will be important in terms of getting your foot in the door — especially at the top college programs.

Best of luck and feel free to ask any questions here, on that thread I shared a link to, or via PM. I spent a lot of the past decade doing things related to fencing, and have loved our family’s time in the sport.

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Just wanted to clarify my earlier comment. It is possible to train on an outside sport at Lville. In fact Lville has a healthy number of athletes who go onto get recruited by college coaches.

This in large part is dependent on your child’s motivation and ability to transport for outside training. Classes finish by 3 pm, and from 3:30 to 5:30 pm is the sport requirement. Then there is free time until about 7:30-9:30 pm for freshman study hall. There is more free time for upperclassmen. But there isn’t a whole lot of time to squeeze in outside training.

You could theoretically get in 2-3 days a week of outside lessons, but you’d be responsible for the transport back/forth. The athletic director has made things difficult for training in many sports (squash, fencing, etc). My own son was a squash athlete and it got so ridiculous that the AD wouldn’t let any lessons/coaching using the Lville squash courts. This led to many of the top squash kids having to travel to princeton to use the courts. This was a real pain.

And then on tournaments, many of the matches started on friday afternoon. Since classes stretched until 3 pm, you’d often have to ask for a waiver for 2 half-days of missed classes. The administration did not make things easy.

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Hence my point that “they don’t seem to make it easy for kids to train at outside clubs year-round”…it’s doable, but from what we’ve heard, not necessarily easy.

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This isn’t fencing specific but my DD1 is extremely active in a spring sport and has been playing up two age levels for club teams. She’s starting 9th grade at a BS with Saturday classes. I didn’t ask enough detailed questions about playing club during the fall season. The coach indicated that they were very supportive of club players, blah blah blah, but when we started coordinating with programs over the summer regarding practice time and tournaments for the fall we found out that there were differing expectations between us and the administration.

While the club team has been very flexible regarding missing practices, tournament availability, etc, the BS has been less so about missing school events. We’ve come to an arrangement, but it was difficult. In fairness, I will say that the difficulties were based on the BS wanting to ensure 1) DD1 was prepared for the additional load at BS and not getting overwhelmed and 2) ensuring solid entry into the social and cultural aspects of the school.

Truthfully, once I considered afternoon program from 3-4:30, club practice from 5:30-7:30, study hall from 8-10, missed Saturday classes and missed Sunday homework/social time for tournaments, plus my DD1’s propensity for procrastination, I realized that they were right. We just didn’t figure that out at the front end. We’ve dialed it back to 1 practice during the week and tournaments roughly every other weekend.

I say all this to make sure you ask the detailed questions that we didn’t when evaluating a school and that you consider the impact of practice/training on your daughter’s success at a boarding vs day school.

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Great post, @QueueCT . It can be hard to know what to ask, how to read between the lines (or realize you’re talking past each other), etc. when you’re new to this.

Your experience is super helpful .