This past weekend, the men’s and women’s fencing teams competed in the Ivy League Championships, held at Brown in Providence, R.I. Both squads struggled, as the men’s and women’s teams finished sixth and seventh, respectively. The News caught up with senior fencer Peter Cohen ’14 over email to discuss the meet, his career and the future of Yale fencing.
Q: This was your final Ivy League Championship. How was this Championship different than the previous ones for you?
A: I came into this year’s Ivy’s just like the last three, with the team championship in mind and hopeful that my team would put our hard training to work. Only afterwards did I really think about [the meet being] the conclusion (essentially besides NCAAs, if I qualify this year) of my career at Yale.
Q: You finished tied for 12th in the épée competition. How do you feel about your individual performance?
A: I think that I overall was fencing well, but my record was not as good as I hoped it would be. Even if I had won all of my bouts, however, our result would have been the same, so the team element here is really important. No one person can win it for us.
Q: The team finished with a 0–5 record at the Ivy League Championship this season. What went wrong for the Bulldogs and what can the team learn from its experience at the Championship?
A: Our team is very young. Although our épée squad is entirely seniors, the other two are almost entirely sophomores and freshman. I think perhaps this youth could have caused nerves to come out, but honestly I don’t know. We have had a strong season but just weren’t able to put it together this weekend.
Q: Do you have any pre-match routine to get ready for a competition?
A: I usually do the same thing before every competition, put on my headphones and jog around the venue to relax. Then I start to stretch and warmup with my teammates.
Q: Looking back to the beginning of your fencing career, why did you choose to compete in épée?
A: I had actually signed up for my first lesson in foil, but before I could even start the coach placed me in épée because of my body type: tall and skinny — good reach.
Q: How did you get involved in fencing?
A: I got involved because my sister’s friend, Mike Pearce ’09, came over for a holiday dinner and mentioned that he was on the team at Yale. He suggested I try it, and within a few months I began competing on the national level. Three years after I started, I faced Mike in the Maccabiah Games in Israel and lost 15–13, but I thought it was pretty crazy that I hadn’t even heard of fencing when we first met, and then I came so close to beating him. I did, however, beat him at our alumni tournament my freshman year.
Q: Where does your fencing career go from here?
A: I don’t really plan on competing competitively after college. I have had a long and successful career here at Yale and am satisfied with that. I will probably fence recreationally when I am in New York after graduation; there are a number of clubs, and it is easy to walk in for an afternoon.
Q: What do you think is the future of Yale fencing?
A: The future is definitely in our underclassmen. They make a huge part of our team and are a strong force in competition and in team spirit. I am confident that they will have great Yale careers.
Q: What is your fondest memory of fencing at Yale?
A: My fondest moment while at Yale was qualifying for NCAAs my freshman year. I never thought that competing in college would bring me to the NCAAs and hoped not to get last place going into the competition. I ended up getting third place, which made me first team All-American, but qualifying was really the accomplishment, and everything else icing on the cake. It showed me that my hard work could lead me wherever I wanted.