GRANVILLE, Ohio- Denison University Associate Vice President and Director of Athletics Nan Carney-DeBord has announced the addition of women's fencing as a varsity sport beginning immediately in the 2019-20 season.
Peter Grandbois, a member of Team USA Fencing and current head coach of the Denison club fencing program has been named the program's first head coach. Grandbois is also an associate professor of English at Denison University.
"The addition of women's fencing provides another outstanding opportunity for our student-athletes," Carney-DeBord said. "We recognize that fencing is an emerging sport both domestically and internationally. Having one of the nation's best fencers in Peter Grandbois made the decision to take the program from club to varsity the logical next step."
The women's fencing season runs from late September through the NCAA Championships in late March. Denison will compete in an open NCAA division with the likes of large institutions such as Notre Dame, Penn State, Columbia, Harvard, Ohio State, Duke, Stanford and Northwestern in addition to traditional Division III opponents such as Vassar, Johns Hopkins, Haverford, and Tufts. Individuals compete in one of three disciplines (foil, epee, sabre) with points gained when they hit their opponent.
Denison's current women's fencing roster consists of 13 student-athletes from eight different states and international representation from India, Nepal, and China. Recruiting efforts have already begun to bolster the program moving forward. Current high school fencers or students interested in learning the sport are encouraged to complete this recruiting questionnaire to learn more about the Denison program.
"Taking Denison women's facing to the varsity level is more than an honor, it is the dream of a lifetime," said Grandbois. "It's such a privilege to work with these young women and watch them grow as student-athletes. They have worked hard not only to become athletes who can compete with anyone on the NCAA stage but to create a program of which we are extremely proud."
Grandbois has been fencing since his freshman year at the University of Colorado. He rose up the ranks of the sport, becoming the fifth-best foil fencer in the country as a member of the U.S. National Foil teams in 1993 and 1994. After a 20-year hiatus from competition, Grandbois returned to international competition in 2012 with the Team USA Veteran Team. In 2014, he took gold at the USA Fencing National Championships and the North American Cup in foil. That year he qualified for a spot on the U.S. Veterans' World Foil Team. Grandbois qualified again for the Veteran World Foil Team in 2016. Also, a part of the Denison faculty, he is the author of ten books, including: three novels, two memoirs, a collection of short stories and a poetry collection.
The addition of women's fencing increases Denison's complement of varsity sports to 24, with 13 for women and 11 for men. It is the first varsity sport to be added at Denison since 2006 when women's golf moved from club sport to varsity status.
Denison's first women's fencing varsity competition will take place at the Ohio State Duals on September 29, 2019 in Columbus, Ohio.