POST 9 of 15:
Poster Thibault shared this perspective on getting into Ivies:
The odds of getting into HYP/C are better for A) an academically outstanding student who’s an OK-to-very good fencer than for B) an outstanding fencer who’s a good but not outstanding student.
BrooklynRye, whose child was a former national team member, offers a perspective for fencers/parents of fencers at or near the top of the NRPS lists:
As a practical matter most if not all of the top recruits in each gender and weapon have already met with coaches at their top choices. In fact, a chosen few (as indicated above) may have even ‘committed’ to the college of their choice.
While rule of thumb is no official contact prior to July 1 after the athlete’s junior year in high school, there is nothing that stops the fencer from initiating the contact, including an unofficial campus visit.
Other than so-called dead-periods, e.g., in late November, a coach can meet with the athlete and even with his/her parents, on-campus and discuss pretty much everything. Depending on your son’s relative position on the recruitment ladder for his year and weapon, you will have greater or lesser success at setting up these meetings. Post-JOs a lot of coaches have downtime and are willing to meet with visiting fencers. After last year’s JOs we were able to meet with coaches at a couple of the Ivies as well as at some of the “big box” schools including UND and OSU. The more desirable a recruit, the more urgency there will be from coaches to commit. Most will certainly want to know before SNs, probably in March-April. Some, those with tighter rosters, may even want a commitment earlier. Good luck!
superdomestique offers a few examples of how things don’t always work out this way (edited for clarity):
I think commitments before SN are unusual…additionally any “commitment” made by either a coach or a fencer before July 1st before the high school student’s senior year is not binding on either party.
This is an important distinction as these non-binding commitments may serve as distracting “noise” to an already opaque recruiting process. For many families who follow this informative CC thread it is important to separate the noise from the realities of the process and I would not want any college fencing aspirants to be discouraged from fully participating in the process and/or having the opportunity to put their best foot forward because the noise because too loud — meaning they assume they have no chance at the top schools because the slots are already filled.
I can think of two examples of the inherent dangers of listening to this noise. Leading up to my son’s recruitment year, during the period between JOs and SN, there were two fencers who were ranked higher on the JPL whose pre-SN college “commitments” were openly discussed.
The first example was the top fencer in our weapon, and was widely expected to attend a most prestigious Ivy powerhouse. When my son emailed the coach of this program to schedule a SN meeting he was told by the coach that “I already know who we are going to take, so it would be a waste of everyone’s time to meet at SN.” While disappointed, my son expanded the universe of schools he was interested in, but continued to update this coach with his grades, scores and fencing results.
At SN, my son did not meet with this coach, however, the top fencer whom this coach wanted, to everyone’s surprise, announced his commitment to another Ivy powerhouse (thankfully to a school my son was not considering). We were fortunate that our son had diligently kept this coach apprised of his interest, and perhaps more importantly his improving grades/scores/results, so he was then aggressively-recruited and was ultimately offered a LL by this program.
In the end, our son accepted a LL from a different program, however, the lesson we learned was: regardless of all the “noise”, it’s not over until it is over for both the fencer and the school until binding commitments can actually be made.
My best advice: Keep plugging away and leave all options open until everything is official and final.
The second example was a top-10 fencer who made it known well before SN that he had “committed” to a 2nd tier Ivy. While my son had initiated correspondence with this coach during junior year, he did not meet with the coach at SN, partially because we had heard the recruited position in our weapon had been filled. However, in late September of senior year (a few days after SAT results came out) the coach of this program called our son to offer him a recruited position on the team. At that point, we had already decided on another program, but we later learned that the fencer who “committed” before SN did not pass the pre-read and could not be recruited at that Ivy. He ultimately matriculated at a non-academically elite fencing powerhouse.
Examples like those described above happen every year. It is worth noting that while we did not meet with the above-mentioned Ivy coaches at SN, we tried to meet with all the coaches of academically-elite programs at SN because nothing is certain until your academic record is complete (full junior year grades are published). One surprise can upset the whole recruiting universe, so it is important to keep all your options open and lines of communication clear with all the coaches.
As a data point, my son received 4 LL offers (the 2nd example above would have been the 5th) and was given strong encouragement to apply Early from the two other academically-elite fencing programs. He verbally committed to his first choice Ivy program in mid-August after the pre-read was official (and informed all the other programs of his decision), submitted his application on September 15th and we sweated it out until the actual LL was received on October 1st.
In our experience, you do not have to have extensive contact with college coaches or a lot of school visits before July 1st to successfully participate in the college recruiting process.
Quite frankly, our son had a slow start in the sport (he was still splitting his time between fencing and soccer thru sophomore year) and we were not sure if he was recruitable in fencing. As a consequence, we had a late start in the overall recruiting process. We had only taken one unofficial visit before SN, so July was a bit of a whirlwind.
In summary, at the academically elite fencing programs, binding recruitment commitments cannot be made until the pre-read has been successfully completed, and a student’s academic file is not complete until full junior year grades/scores are available (which is generally around the time SN begins in late June). The college fencing recruitment process is long, stressful and can be noisy. Try to ignore all the noise, stay focused on the process, and what is best/possible for your fencer.