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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Alum with silver will go for gold in London

Published: March 2, 2012
Section: News

Fencer Tim Morehouse ’00, already an Olympic silver medalist, is currently training to qualify for the Summer 2012 Olympics in London, drawing a new spotlight on Brandeis Athletics and its fencing program. Morehouse says that he didn’t realize his full potential until he came to Brandeis and competed against nationally ranked fencers.

Currently, Morehouse is training full-time, dedicating four to five hours each day for five days each week to prepare for the qualification period and he is traveling to different countries every other weekend. In three to six weeks, he will know if he has qualified for the Summer 2012 London Olympics.

Coach Shipman believes that Morehouse has a strong chance of making the team.

“His chances of making the team will be helped if he is seated higher up. He is not the most gifted athlete, but he is one of the hardest workers and will compete at a high level against all of his opponents,” Shipman said.

In an exclusive phone-interview with The Hoot, Morehouse explained the pressures that an Olympian faces during the qualification period.

“Imagine the stress of a final exam,” Morehouse said. “You spend one or two weeks preparing to take the test so that a professor can give you a letter grade. This is four years of work coming down to a small qualification period. It’s all about being able to put aside pressure the best that you can, and perform to the level that you’re capable of. Some people rise under this pressure but unfortunately, some people don’t.”

“He was good right away, but wasn’t a high school star,” William Shipman says, who is now in his 31st season as head coach. A high school graduate of Riverdale Country Day School, Morehouse was interested in attending UPenn, but after a visit to Brandeis, Morehouse felt at home here and soon made the decision to attend.

Shipman, who described Morehouse as a “late bloomer,” said that Morehouse worked incredibly hard to earn the recognition and attention that he did. Shipman says that he started fencing more off-season entering his sophomore year, and it was at this time that he qualified for the NCAAs and competed against some of the best fencers in the country.

In an interview with The Hoot, Shipman spoke highly of Morehouse and reflected on his time here at Brandeis.

“His enthusiasm for the team was extraordinary,” Shipman said. “It is rare to see that in an individual fencer, but he was all about the team.”

Morehouse fenced for all four years of his Brandeis career. During his collegiate career, he was a three-time NCAA qualifier, earning all-America status each time. A saberist all four years, Morehouse was named NCAA saber Fencer of the Year as a senior in 2000. In 2009, Morehouse was inducted in the Brandeis Hall of Fame.

Upon graduation, Morehouse returned to his hometown of Washington Heights, where he taught in a middle school with Teach for America. Morehouse trained in the evenings and traveled the world on the weekends. After earning a spot on the U.S. saber squad, he won a silver medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, becoming Brandeis’ first Olympian.

Morehouse was ranked the number one U.S. Men’s Saber Fencer in 2009-1010, being a four-time Pan American Team Champion (2005-2009); two-time Pan American Individual Silver Medalist (2007-2008) and Team Gold Medalist (2010); National Team Champion (2004); and gradually ranking within the top-15 in the world (2007-2009).

Morehouse has written a book about his journey of being a fencer entitled “American Fencer: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Sport.” The book will be released next month. As one of the four original Olympian sports, fencing dates back to the 18th century. Even through its many technological changes, fencing is still a very traditional sport and Morehouse highlights these challenges in his book.

Written with bestselling author Garth Sundem, the book details the challenges that Morehouse and all other fencers must overcome in this unique sport.

He describes his book as a “fun, biographical book with a lot of history on fencing.” He also says that many chapters include his time from Brandeis and share the stories of his teammates, coaches and personal experiences.

“I loved Brandeis,” Morehouse said. “I had great friends, teammates, professors and still have a great relationship with Coach Shipman. We talk often.”

Morehouse received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and fondly remembers many of his professors, including Professor Hackett Fisher and Professor Kapelle from the history department.

“I had a fun time with my classes. And everyone at Brandeis is pretty focused on getting things done. It really helped me to be in that kind of atmosphere.”

Morehouse is still very involved in the Brandeis community. He chaired the class’ 10-year reunion, where he was able to reconnect with many of his classmates.