Are walk-ons considered legitimate members of the team who receive the same support/benefits/resources as a recruited fencer? I’m unclear about that still! Thank you!
“Walk-on” is a bit of a misnomer in that you can’t just walk onto the team if you’ve never fenced before. But for a quality Div 1 caliber fencer that’s just not at the tippy top tier for a coach to use one of their recruitment slots, if a coach says they would welcome you as a walk-on, and you get accepted to that school, then you are a full member of the team – with all of the benefits and all of the expectations of any other team member. If you look at the full squads of some of the Ivies, you’ll see non-points list A, B, and even occasionally lower ranked fencers on the teams.
Some Ivies have very small squads and really rely on their walk-ons to make sure they have a buffer against injuries or top-ranked fencers competing in national/international tournaments the same weekend as scheduled collegiate events. Without enough walk-ons to complement the recruited fencers, an Ivy may end up fencing some events with a partial squad and forfeiting bouts. I recall this was a problem for Princeton in particular during the 2018-2019 season.
I think at most schools, you’re either on the team or you’re not - no real benefit difference for recruits (excepting any D1 scholarship $, of course). There may be some prestige with being recruited vs a walk-on for first years, but after that initial season your results probably speak louder than how you got there.
Many DIII schools rely on walk-on and/or self-recruited fencers to fill out their squads. On my daughter’s team (small DIII school), other than the initial conversations of “Why did you choose this school?” or “How did you get here?” all that mattered was whether you were a good teammate and could you be counted on to win bouts.
I think that is probably consistent for season during a pandemic. Hopefully the 2022-23 season gets closer to normal.
Last season, for my daughter, the number of meets, and especially the number of teams faced and bouts logged, dropped dramatically. In 2020-21 she got in a total of 34 bouts, in previous seasons she’d log that number just at the Notre Dame super-meet.
That ND/Northwestern super-meet over two days is certainly a stamina test, especially for small squads!
All Ivies issue Likely Letters
@Nycfence Yes, walk ons are considered valued members of the team from my experience. I don’t see a distinction in treatment between walk ons and recruited fencers in regards to support and resources. Recruited fencers are going to fence the majority of bouts at competitions, as they are typically the strongest. However, I have heard of instances in which a walk on has become team captain and one of the stronger fencers.
To @ShanFerg3 's point, Jake Hoyle, 2-time NCAA National Champion and most-recently, Team USA Tokyo Olympian in ME, was a walk-on to the Columbia fencing team.
My daughter walked on to a D1 team after only Fencing for her high school. She attended a strong academic university with a mid tier Fencing program- although it it a highly respected athletic school where it’s fun to be an athlete. She was actively recruited by another school for a different sport, but due to an injury chose not to pursue that option.
Her experience has been great, she has fenced a lot in competition and is a respected member of her squad and team. Her older and younger sisters walked onto their D1 and D3 ( not Fencers) teams. Neither were interested in the recruitment process. The oldest was given an athletic scholarship after freshman year, graduated as Captain of the team, and was a multiple medal winner The younger has just started out, but has already competed.
Outside of the top kids who will certainly get recruited there is a pool of kids who are fine athletes and schools who will be thrilled to have them. It might be wise if your child is not recruited to choose a school that is a great match with a team that will give them the opportunity to compete. Unlike many other sports, NCAA Fencing is just one component of a serious Fencer’s experience.
Bottom line, no difference in the recruit/walk on experience.
I wish those going through the process luck!
Hi, I hope this is the right place to ask this. I’m a junior and I was wondering what is the average SAT score/AI for Ivies?