The group has recently hired a senior diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging manager.
“We want to have Olympians coming from non-traditional fencing areas,” he said.
In New York, Olympic fencing medalist Peter Westbrook created a foundation to help would-be fencers from different racial and economic backgrounds. Beneficiaries included Ivan Lee, who eventually became a two-time national champion and is currently the fencing coach at Long Island University.
“Peter had this vision where he wanted to spread the sport of fencing to inner-city kids,” said Mr. Lee, who grew up in Brooklyn and attended the University of St. John. Mr Lee, 41, says that even two decades ago, his parents saw fencing as a path to university.
Can fencing hold its lead?
Eileen Ye, who attended Brearley Private School and trained at the Manhattan Fencing Center, will attend Harvard this fall, without being a recruited athlete.
Still, he said, “I definitely think fencing has added to my application.”
Ms Ye was good enough to make the women’s team, one of 15 students shortlisted, just as fencing and other elite sports are under the microscope.
Again, the tradition of athletic preferences might be hard to extinguish.
Two years ago, faced with the financial strains 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.
After backlash from former students, they were reinstated.