Sports Wheaton

David Sach is Ready to Act as the Tone-Setter of the Wheaton Fencing Program 

For most of us, including me, the extent of our knowledge of fencing begins and ends with the Olympics, and games on the Wii. Particularly Wii Sports Resort. Now, that was a special game. We all remember those days. We’re not here to talk about that though. 

Year after year, the sporting environment in Norton is getting more and more exciting. There is a clear ambition. In 2023, we saw it expand. That theme is going to continue in 2024. 

Beginning next fall, as many of you may know, fencing will increase the total of varsity teams at Wheaton to 25. According to the NCSA (Next College Student Athlete), there are over 430 D-III schools in the United States. The Lyons are slated to become just the 16th Division III school in the country with a fencing program. When discussing programs with both men’s and women’s sides, Wheaton will become just the 11th D-III school. 

It is not every day that you see collegiate programs begin from literally ground zero. David Sach, the ex-head coach of the Tufts University women’s fencing team is up for the job.

The sport many people view as niche is in his blood. Growing up in the United Kingdom, Sach was given the choice at his private school (the UK’s version of public schools) to either run cross country in the rain outside or stay dry and fence. The choice was easy for him. Equipped with the tools to reach his goals at his school in east London, Sach went on to win five back-to-back Junior National Championships as a competitive fencer. 

He never had a plan to go into coaching as a career, but it all just seemed to fall into place. Medford, Massachusetts was his workplace for over six seasons, impressively guiding the Jumbos from seventh to second in the conference within a four-year span. Sach’s teams were practically invincible in his final two campaigns, losing only 13 of the 54 matches played. 

“The fact that it was a dual-gender team was interesting to me,” Sach said on what drove him away from Tufts and towards Norton. “It got to be honest, the Athletic Director’s vision of what he wanted to do with the sport in general at the school, trying to raise the profile of the school through sport, that resonated with me.” 

For him, this was always viewed as a challenge. Not one that he couldn’t take on though. 

“Sometimes you have a club team that translates into it, but to start completely from scratch is always going to be just an amazing challenge. Also, you get to set the tone and the team environment for the sport.” 

None of this is going to happen overnight. It’s about taking one step at a time. Sach is already thinking about five years down the line. That’s the campaign he has pinpointed as the time his team intends to compete for the conference. 

“That would be the dream,” said the 2023 United States Fencing Coaches Association National Coach of the Year finalist. 

From the minute he was officially announced as the coach back in June, the ex-Tufts leader has been in the process of securing a full team ahead of the program’s kick-off. 

“I’ve met with over 150 people already for next season to try to get a team up and running early. I’d like to have a full team next year. I’ve done a lot of recruiting, a lot of traveling, a lot of going to events.” 

It isn’t your normal recruiting that everyday college coaches do. Similar to what Alana Burgess, the leader of the Water Polo team is experiencing, Sach is essentially trying to sell a product that has not even hit the store shelves yet. No history for people to go off of. Imagine going on Shark Tank without any prior sales. All you have is the tools, a strong commitment, and a track record of success. That’s what Sach is doing but in front of student athletes. It’s all about the concept and his ambitious and courageous personality. 

“It’s a brand new program, people are obviously cautious about it,” Sach said on the topic. “It makes the recruiting more interesting, shall we say.” 

The fencing savant is still learning day in and day out. This is uncharted territory, even for him. What he’s doing is not for the faint of heart. It’s going to be quite some time until we see fencing lifting banners in Norton, but it has to be said that Wheaton picked the right guy to kickstart a project that begins at the bottom of the mountain. 

Start reading the rule book folks. Sword fencing is coming to campus. I would recommend finding a book and beginning to dive into it now (there are a lot more rules than you think).