College sports are full of dynasties fans can recite off the tip of their tongue. Alabama football. UCLA men’s basketball. Connecticut women’s basketball. Michigan men’s hockey. It might be time to add Notre Dame Fighting Irish fencing to that exclusive list.
Before getting into program accolades, it suffices to say that there’s a plethora of individual talent there. In the recently concluded Olympic Games, there were 11 Fighting Irish fencers participating for various nations. The total is comprised of current student athletes at the university, and alumni as well. Lee Kiefer, Class of 2017, won the gold medal in women’s individual foil competition. En route to her medal, she defeated fellow Fighting Irish female fencer Berthier Amita in the round of 32.
Notre Dame fencing has won 11 championships in school history. The Fighting Irish also brought home the title in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, giving them top honors in three out of the last four years(2020’s season was cancelled due to COVID-19). Head coach Gia Kvaratskheila has been at the helm of all three titles, and has done a tremendous job recruiting talent to the school from all over the world.
Kvaratskheila had the best kind of problems this summer trying to watch and root for the Fighting Irish fencing current players and alumni in Tokyo. It would have been tough for him to catch all of their matches from the United States, but luckily he was in his homeland of the Republic of Georgia this summer.
“The time difference will be a lot easier. It’s the summer and I can go on about four hours of sleep as long as I can see our athletes, and Team USA of course,” he said. Via NDInsider.com
Buckie Leach, who coached the women’s foil team at this summer’s Olympics, is also affiliated with Notre Dame. He was an assistant with the Fighting Irish for five seasons, but sadly passed away this week after a vacation.
According to the school’s website, the future likely remains bright for this group. Nearly a third of their 2020-2021 roster was comprised of freshmen, meaning that a sizeable segment of the team will continue to grow together for the next three years.