Nick Itkin is heading into his second season with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Most student-athletes use their inaugural season to get used to a new environment and learn what competition on a college level looks like. But Nick is not like “most student-athletes”. As a freshman, Nick became the ACC Men’s Foil Individual Champion, National Collegiate Men’s Foil Champion, and the Junior Men’s Foil Individual World Champion. These unbelievable accomplishments made him the first U.S. fencer to win individual Junior World (FIE), Division I (U.S. Fencing) and NCAA Championship titles in the same season.
Get to know one of the best collegiate fencers in the interview below.
Nick, thank you for joining us. To begin with, tell us how you got into fencing and what you love about the sport?
My father is a fencing coach and he introduced the sport to me when I was about seven. I love this sport more than anything, my life revolves around fencing. There is no better feeling then overplaying my opponent and scoring a nice touch.
You decided to attend Notre Dame. Explain why you ended up signing with the Fighting Irish?
It was just the perfect fit for me. It was a great opportunity to compete at an elite level and receive a great education as well. The team also provides all their athletes with the resources they need to succeed. The facilities, equipment, and coaching are by far the best compared to all the other fencing universities.
Can you describe what a typical day for you at Notre Dame looks like?
A regular day at Notre Dame is pretty similar to a regular day at other schools, I would think. I have classes in the morning anywhere from 8AM-3PM. Then, I would have practice from around 4-6:30. After that, I would go to dinner and straight to study hall.
You had a phenomenal freshman campaign at Notre Dame. Looking back, did you anticipate this type of success or did it come as a surprise?
I knew that I was capable of clinching all the achievements I earned throughout the year and I actually expect even more next year. I always have high expectations for myself as it gives me a sense of confidence on the strip.
You seem like a very ambitious person. Can you tell us what your #1 athletic goal is?
My athletic goal is to earn a medal at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. This has been a goal of mine since I started fencing and has been in my head for years. In order to accomplish this, I need to compete better on the senior international circuit. I have a lot of work to do as there is a large difference between junior (under 20) fencing and senior fencing.
What has been the most eye-opening experience as a student-athlete yet? How did it impact you?
Winning NCAAs was an incredibly eye-opening experience. It made me realize that I was no longer fencing for myself but for all of my teammates and the whole University. It was an incredible feeling to help the team win the national championship and it made me realize how to be a team player.
Being a student-athlete comes with a lot of challenges as well. What has been most challenging for you yet and what have you done to overcome it?
I would say time management. As a member of the National Team, I am traveling a lot internationally for World Cup or Grand Prix events. This makes it difficult for me to keep up with my studies while also training 5 days a week.
You are still fairly new to the college life but is there a specific piece of advice that you would give to high school athletes?
It would definitely be to figure it out your goals and prioritize your life.
To conclude, if you could say thank you to one specific person, who would it be and why?
It would be my coach, Igor, he dedicated so much of his time and effort in me and all of my results came when I started working with him. He believed in me like no one believed in me before.
We would like to use the opportunity to thank Nick for his time and thoughts. We wish him and the Notre Dame Fencing team best of luck for the upcoming season. If you enjoy this article, please share it on your social media channels. Thank you!