Fencing may cost six figures, but it wins in college admissions

The group recently hired a senior executive for diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.

“We want there to be Olympians who come from non-traditional fencing areas,” he said.

In New York, Olympic fencing medalist Peter Westbrook has started a foundation to help would-be fencers from different racial and economic backgrounds. Among the recipients was Ivan Lee, who eventually became a two-time national champion and is currently a fencing coach at Long Island University.

“Peter had this vision where he wanted to expand the sport of fencing to inner-city kids,” said Lee, who grew up in Brooklyn and went to St. John’s University. Mr Lee, 41, says that until two decades ago his parents saw fencing as a route to university.

Eileen Ye, who attended the private Brearley School and trained at the Manhattan Fencing Center, is attending Harvard this fall, without being a recruited athlete.

Even so, she said, “I really think fencing has been added to my candidacy.”

Ms. Ye was good enough to make the women’s team, one of 15 students on the list, just like fencing and other elite sports are under the microscope.

Again, the tradition of sports preferences might be hard to extinguish.

Two years ago, faced with the financial difficulties of the pandemic, Stanford decided to eliminate fencing and 10 other sports – men’s rowing, sailing, squash and synchronized swimming – because of their high costs.

Following a violent reaction from the elders, they were reinstated.