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Ivy League Fencing Coaches Continue to Recruit Student-Fencers from Certain States!

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With acceptance rates ranging from a low of 4.9% (Harvard University) to a high of 12.9% (Cornell University) for the class of 2021, acceptance rates at the seven Ivy League universities with NCAA-sanctioned fencing teams are the lowest they have ever been. To say there is tough competition for the few Ivy League recruiting slots for fencers is an understatement! First and foremost elite fencers need excellent GPA/SAT/ACT scores to pass admissions.

Over the past six years, the fencing Ivies fielded 34.5 freshmen women fencers, (4.9 per university), and 26.8 freshmen men (4.5 per university) on average per year. The elite fencer’s chance of being recruited by an Ivy League university is enhanced by knowing the historical, as well as the current composition of a university’s fencing roster by both weapon and class. The prospective student-fencer can get a sense of the type of fencers who might be recruited and be realistic about their chance of success. By examining the historical movement of a freshmen class through a four-year timeline, and by reviewing the composition of the current roster, it is possible to deduct the likely recruiting requirements of the Ivy League fencing rosters for a given year. Attrition rates vary but average about 30% of women and 20% for men over a four-year period.

The size of the Ivy League’s women freshmen fencing roster averaged 34.5 fencers per year, (4.9 per university) over the past six years, ranging from a high of 44 in 2011-2012 to a low of 29 in 2016-2017 as illustrated in the accompanying table. With a standard deviation of 5.8 fencers, the roster had between 28.7 and 40.3 fencers about 70% of the time. (34.5 +/- 5.8).

Trend in Composition of Women's Fencing Rosters by Class for the Ivy League Universities 2011-2012 to 2016-2017

UniversityClass2011-20122012-20132013-20142014-20152015-20162016-2017AverageStandard Deviation
Brown23232016151218.24.5
Freshman 8552344.52.3
Sophomore4755234.31.8
Junior7455524.71.6
Senior4754534.71.4
Columbia24201522191919.83.1
Freshman8568445.81.8
Sophomore6736745.51.6
Junior6244574.71.8
Senior4624343.81.3
Cornell24242323241722.52.7
Freshman10766756.81.7
Sophomore4884645.72
Junior8377455.72
Senior2626734.32.3
Harvard11121311121211.80.8
Freshman2353523.31.4
Sophomore2244353.31.2
Junior4322322.70.8
Senior3422132.51
Penn14142420221918.84.1
Freshman63105655.82.3
Sophomore4648655.51.5
Junior2462844.32.3
Senior2145253.21.7
Princeton19191713121716.23
Freshman5443454.20.8
Sophomore4543343.80.8
Junior55442441.1
Senior5553344.21
Yale18171616131315.52.1
Freshman55334440.9
Sophomore6464234.21.6
Junior46453241.4
Senior3234443.30.8
Grand Total133129128121117109122.88.9
Freshman44323930332934.55.8
Sophomore30393434292832.34.1
Junior362732293026303.6
Senior233123282526263.1
Source: College Fencing Roster Websites and National Fencing Club Rankings.

The largest average women’s freshmen rosters over the past six years were Cornell University (6.8 fencers), followed by Columbia University (5.8 fencers) and the University of Pennsylvania (5.8 fencers). The most consistent women’s freshmen fencing rosters in terms of size included Princeton and Yale.  As expected, the average sized weapon squad for the women’s fencing roster was similar, although the saber squad was the most consistent in terms of size, as illustrated by the lowest standard deviation of 2.8 fencers.

Trend in Composition of Women's Fencing Rosters by Weapon for the Ivy League Universities 2011-2012 to 2016-2017

UniversityWeapon2011-20122012-20132013-20142014-20152015-20162016-2017AverageStandard Deviation
Brown23232016151218.24.5
Epee9955646.32.2
Foil9876536.32.2
Saber5685455.51.4
Columbia24201522191919.83.1
Epee105611787.82.3
Foil6865666.21
Saber8736655.81.7
Cornell24242323241722.52.7
Epee8787656.81.2
Foil910887681.4
Saber77781167.71.8
Harvard11121311121211.80.8
Epee5754444.81.2
Foil3234553.71.2
Saber3353333.30.8
Penn14142420221918.84.1
Epee4696856.31.9
Foil6467876.31.4
Saber4497676.21.9
Princeton19191713121716.23
Epee5764365.21.5
Foil8575365.71.8
Saber6744655.31.2
Yale18171616141315.71.9
Epee67756560.9
Foil6435354.31.2
Saber6666535.31.2
Grand Total1331291281211181091238.8
Epee47484642403743.34.4
Foil47414040373840.53.5
Saber39404239413439.22.8
Source: College Fencing Roster Websites and National Fencing Club Rankings.

The size of the Ivy League men’s freshmen fencing roster averaged 26.8 fencers, (4.5 per university) over the past six years, ranging from a high of 35 in 2012-2013, to a low of 22 in 2013-2014, as illustrated in the accompanying table. With a standard deviation of 4.7 fencers, the roster had between 22.1 and 31.5 fencers about 70% of the time. (22.8 +/- 4.7).  The largest average men’s freshmen rosters included Columbia University (7) and the University of Pennsylvania (5.2).  The most consistent freshmen teams in terms of size included Brown, Harvard & Princeton universities.

Trend in Composition of Men's Fencing Rosters By Class for the Ivy League Universities 2011-2012 to 2016-2017

UniversityClass2011-20122012-20132013-20142014-20152015-20162016-2017AverageStandard Deviation
Brown14141512131213.31.2
Freshman34432230.8
Sophomore4444433.80.4
Junior53434540.9
Senior2332322.50.5
Columbia20192323232121.51.8
Freshman910655772.1
Sophomore65107546.22.1
Junior2448554.72
Senior333854.42.2
Harvard15181211131113.32.7
Freshman4423353.51
Sophomore4442243.31
Junior5435113.21.8
Senior2631713.32.6
Penn20212319211720.22
Freshman6627645.21.8
Sophomore9591776.33
Junior3756144.32.2
Senior2375724.32.3
Princeton19161612161215.22.7
Freshman3442533.51
Sophomore4444243.70.8
Junior3533523.51.2
Senior9353434.52.3
Yale20161716181817.51.5
Freshman4743554.71.4
Sophomore4364364.31.4
Junior4336433.81.2
Senior8343644.72
Grand Total10810410693104911017.2
Freshman29352223262626.84.7
Sophomore31253722232827.75.6
Junior22262231202023.54.3
Senior261825173517237.1
Source: College Fencing Roster Websites and National Fencing Club Rankings.

Data relating to the composition of the men’s fencing rosters by weapon and university are found in the accompanying table.

Trend in Composition of Men's Fencing Rosters by Weapon for the Ivy League Universities 2011-2012 to 2016-2017

UniversityWeapon2011-20122012-20132013-20142014-20152015-20162016-2017AverageStandard Deviation
Brown14141512131213.31.2
Epee3344443.70.5
Foil5565444.80.8
Saber6653544.81.2
Columbia20192323232121.51.8
Epee6889767.31.2
Foil7686987.31.2
Saber7578776.81
Harvard15181211131113.32.7
Epee7744524.81.9
Foil4654454.70.8
Saber4533443.80.8
Penn202123192116202.4
Epee6676635.71.4
Foil57771087.31.6
Saber98965571.9
Princeton19161612161215.22.7
Epee5653554.81
Foil96557461.8
Saber5464434.31
Yale20161716181817.51.5
Epee8764786.71.5
Foil6467555.51
Saber6555655.30.5
Grand Total1081041069310490100.87.4
Epee353734303428333.3
Foil36343734393435.72.1
Saber37333529312832.23.5
Source: College Fencing Roster Websites and National Fencing Club Rankings.

Do certain Ivy League fencing coaches tend to recruit fencers from certain states? For the statisticians among our readers, this is a question that can be addressed by the chi-square test for independence! Based on our statistical analysis, there is little doubt that the Ivy League fencing rosters and the state of origin are not independent. The two variables, the state of origin and a school’s fencing roster are statistically dependent. It would appear that some coaches prefer fencers from certain clubs in certain states! That is not to say that all coaches take this approach! We can better understand how the state of origin and the Ivy League fencing rosters are related by examining the data in the accompanying tables.

Related: Top Feeder Fencing Clubs to the Ivy League Fencing Roster 2016-2017

Over the past five years, Columbia University recruited a large number of freshmen men fencers from New York and New Jersey, while the University of Pennsylvania attracted a sizeable number from California and New York. Yale University attracted a large number of fencers from California and New York while Princeton University recruited a sizeable number from Texas. 

State or Country of Origin of Freshmen Men Fencers on Ivy League University Fencing Teams 2012-2013 to 2016-2017

State/CountryBrownColumbiaHarvardPennPrincetonYaleTotal% of Total
Total153317251824132100%
New Jersey3932342418.2%
California2525172216.7%
New York2914152216.7%
Texas1135107.6%
Massachusetts221275.3%
Maryland211153.8%
Connecticut11243.0%
Georgia21143.0%
France2132.3%
Pennsylvania11132.3%
District of Columbia221.5%
Florida221.5%
Rhode Island1121.5%
South Korea1121.5%
Switzerland1121.5%
Arizona110.8%
Canada110.8%
China110.8%
Colorado110.8%
Hungary110.8%
Italy110.8%
Korea110.8%
Kentucky110.8%
Missouri110.8%
Montana110.8%
Oregon110.8%
Spain110.8%
Sweden110.8%
Turkey110.8%
Utah110.8%
Virginia110.8%
Washington110.8%
Unknown110.8%
Source: College Fencing Roster Websites and National Fencing Club Rankings.

The data for women’s fencing rosters show a different picture. Cornell University attracted a significant proportion of its women fencers from New York and New Jersey, while Columbia University recruited a sizeable number from California and New York.  The University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University attracted a significant number of women fencers from New York and New Jersey, while Brown University recruited five freshmen women from Massachusetts and five from New York which accounted for a half of its freshmen women’s squad over the period.

State or Country of Origin of Freshmen Women Fencers on Ivy League University Fencing Teams 2012-2013 to 2016-2017

State/CountryBrownColumbiaCornellHarvardPennPrincetonYaleTotal% of Total
Grand Total19273118292019163100%
New York551343453923.9%
New Jersey341139323521.5%
California8424312213.5%
Massachusetts511132138.0%
Texas11242.5%
United Kingdom111142.5%
Connecticut11131.8%
Kansas1231.8%
Pennsylvania11131.8%
Virginia1231.8%
Canada1231.8%
China1121.2%
District of Columbia1121.2%
Florida1121.2%
Georgia1121.2%
Illinois1121.2%
Oregon221.2%
Rhode Island1121.2%
Washington1121.2%
South Korea1121.2%
Colrado110.6%
Delaware110.6%
France110.6%
Italy110.6%
Kentucky110.6%
Maryland110.6%
Minnesota110.6%
North Carolina110.6%
New Hamphshire110.6%
Puerto Rico110.6%
Singapore110.6%
Sweden110.6%
Unknown110.6%
Source: College Fencing Roster Websites and National Fencing Club Rankings.

Read more: 60 Years of Ivy League Round-Robin Fencing Championships 1956-2017

We conclude that each Ivy League university has its own recruiting style and needs depending on how seriously it takes fencing. The year-by-year needs of each school are comparatively easy to determine. Each coach needs at least three good fencers in each gender/weapon. This explains in part why the number of recruited fencers vary from year to year. What matters is the rankings of the recruited athletes, but more importantly, whether or not their GPA/SAT/ACT scores were good enough to pass the admissions department.

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