I wanted to take a moment to reach out and update you on the team and Cornell’s plans for re-opening amid the Covid-19 pandemic. We abruptly ended our season last spring, and I cannot believe we are already approaching the return to campus. A few days ago, Andy Noel and the senior athletic administration announced the plans for athletics. There will be training and practices but NO fall competition. Despite an announcement by the NYT, there is no firm date for the return to competition. As a result, it is possible we will begin competition around Thanksgiving. It is also possible that we will push all of our meet dates into the late winter/spring and extend the season. All options are on the table, but we are living with what amounts to total uncertainty. On the bright side, Andy was clear that he is not willing to entertain the idea of massive cuts to sports programs – as Brown and now Stanford have done – during his time as AD.
That said, I think this is a crucial moment for establishing the unwavering support of the fencing families and alumni for this program. More than ever, Cornell Men’s and Women’s Fencing provides a place for athletes to engage in a sport they love, build friendships, learn to lead, and create memories that will last a lifetime. I am deeply devoted to the success of both programs. We should have the best women’s NCAA program and the best men’s club program in the country. Both programs are attracting elite athletes in ever increasing numbers. And just as important, we have an opportunity on the men’s side to introduce team fencing to people who thought they would never get a chance to compete in college. I believe we are standing at a crossroads for collegiate fencing of all kinds. It is imperative that we communicate our love, support and the great benefit that collegiate fencing brought you all.
I cannot tell you with any certainty what next season will bring. But I can tell you that we are working hard to recruit a diverse group of top caliber athletes for the future. Our men’s team has decided to share leadership among the seniors who will be focusing their efforts on athlete development, new publicity materials for USA Fencing events, recruiting within Cornell University and team leadership. I am working on plans to hold small group training indoors and move whole team footwork, agility and conditioning to outdoor spaces. This way we can tackle our weaknesses and become even tougher while staying safe as a team. Susan and I are working in concert with the Athletic Department on possible deferment for athletes who may not be able to return from abroad. This will allow them to retain eligibility for another season. We are also hoping to host regular zoom meetings with alumni who would like to share their experiences with graduate school, careers, navigating post university opportunities and networking. If you would like to join, please reach out to me by email or phone.
As always, thank you so much for all your encouragement and support. We couldn’t do it without you.