“Our grandmothers had gone about with books poised on their heads, we felt very modern to have substituted fencing. “ – Mosette Stafford Vaughn, Radcliffe College Class of 1891.

Qualification for the NCAA Championships has become something of a ritual for recent members of the Harvard women’s fencing team, a far cry from the sports origins on campus dating back to 1888, but not far removed from the year the team officially came into being in 1974. Back then, team Captain Sara Kimball ’76, described as a “colorful, temperamental character, not easily forgotten by those who encountered her,” helped lead a resurgence of a competitive team that was tempered through hard work, perseverance, and no shortage of team spirit

Much the same could be said of epeeist Noam Mills ’12, current captain of the women’s team and member of the Israeli Olympic Team that competed in Beijing in 2008. For Mills, intercollegiate fencing has helped change her perspective on the sport, and credits her teammates with making the transition from Israel to Harvard an easy one. “It’s very different (in a good way) when I have teammates to share the joy of winning and the agony of losing with, “ Mills says.

Harvard University recently played host to the 2010 NCAA Fencing Championships, being held from March 25–28 at the Gordon Indoor Track. Harvard’s Caroline Vloka ’12 won the national title in Women’s Sabre, while her teammate Mills finished second in Women’s Épée. Vloka became Harvard’s first female NCAA Champion since Emily Cross ’08-09 won the Women’s Foil title in 2005.


Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer

  • Hard knock life

    Hard knock life

    Caroline Vloka '12 knocks Alicia Gurrieri of Northwestern University when she's down.

  • Great fence of China

    Great fence of China

    Noam Mills '12 (right) competed as a fencer in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, but here she practices with noble adversary Felicia Sun '13.

  • Swords down, hands up

    Swords down, hands up

    Elena Helgiu '13 (not seen) offers a hand to Caroline Vloka '12 during practice.

  • Suited up

    Suited up

    At the NCAA Fencing Championships, Felicia Sun '13 (left) and Noam Mills '12 are suited up in their protective gear and ready to roll.

  • Stick it

    Stick it

    Felicia Sun '13 (right) spars with opponent Victoria Mo from the University of California, San Diego.

  • Getting some pointers

    Getting some pointers

    Caroline Vloka '12 works up a sweat and gets some tips from fencing coach Peter Brand.