Columbia Fencing Tradition Honored and Celebrated
It was a great week for Columbia Fencing!
Last Thursday, many of Columbia's all-time greats gathered in Low Library for induction to the Columbia Athletics Hall of Fame. Legendary coach James Murray, who coached from 1898 to 1948, was inducted, as were four individuals -- Robert Nielsen '51CC, Barry Pariser '55CC, Monica Conley '03CC and Emma Baratta '06CC. All were All-Americans. In addition, the 1988 Men's Fencing Team was inducted in the Team, Modern Era category; that was the team that won the NCAA championship and saw all three weapons won by Lions!
Four days later, many of those standouts returned to campus for the annual Fencing Alumni Meet in the Dodge Physical Fitness Center. They saw, and participated in, a spirited Alumni-Varsity meet, won for the first time in many years by the varsity.
The new Hall of Famers, and those inducted previously, were introduced by head coach Michael Aufrichtig, to a standing ovation from a crowd of nearly 100.
The meet was followed by a brunch get-together in the Lou Gehrig Lounge. There, the attendees were treated to several fencing alumni, including Stephen Buchman, Jim Margolis and Steve Sobel, who were there to speak about two other legendary Lions, Engineering School alumnus Niles Ayres and pioneering coach Jose "Joe" Velardi, both of whom passed away during the past year.
Sobel, a former NCAA champion who went on to head the United States Olympic Committee, capped the day for the entranced crowd with the tale of how he was approved to fence for Columbia.
It truly was a memorable gathering for some equally-memorable fencers.