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For the First Time, the NCAA National Collegiate Fencing Championships Will Include a Parafencing Demo

02/21/2024, 8:45am CST
By Bryan Wendell

This historic inclusion, orchestrated by USA Fencing, the NCAA, the USOPC and The Ohio State University, is a monumental move toward fostering inclusivity and broadening the horizons of fencing for athletes with disabilities.

Photo by Camille Simmons

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — In a groundbreaking development both for the world of fencing and unified  push to bring more adaptive sports to the collegiate level, this year’s NCAA 2024 National Collegiate Fencing Championships will feature a parafencing demonstration for the very first time. 

This historic inclusion, orchestrated by USA Fencing, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, the NCAA and Ohio State, is a monumental move toward fostering inclusivity and broadening the horizons of fencing for athletes with disabilities.

The demonstration itself will take place during the National Collegiate Fencing Championships in Columbus, Ohio, on the campus of The Ohio State University. Parafencing will be showcased during the event’s final day — "Championship Sunday," March 24. 

After the individual finals but before the awards ceremony, parafencers will take the stage to show their skills, giving student-athletes and fans a chance to witness this powerful, lightning-fast side of fencing. One of the participants in the demo will be parafencer and Paris 2024 Paralympic hopeful Byron Branch.

Central to this momentous occasion is Lauryn DeLuca, a 2016 Paralympian, USA Fencing Board member and a distinguished alumna of The Ohio State University, where she was believed to be the first adaptive fencer in the NCAA. 

DeLuca's journey from Paralympian to NCAA student-athlete to an advocate for the sport’s inclusion embodies the spirit and resilience of the parafencing community.

DeLuca, who has cerebral palsy, went to the Paralympic Games when she was a junior in high school. When she started looking at colleges, she saw a lot of closed doors.

“At that time, collegiate coaches didn’t think something like this could happen, almost forcing me to retire early to pursue an education,” DeLuca says. “The coaching staff at The Ohio State University did a historic thing in 2018 by allowing me to be involved in their prestigious fencing team as a parafencer. Since my graduation, they have remained committed to Para inclusion leading up to assisting with this historic demo. Now, because of this demo, little boys and girls with disabilities will know they belong in the NCAA.”

DeLuca knows just how far this opportunity can take the sport. An athlete fellow for the Olympic and Paralympic Games Los Angeles 2028, DeLuca hopes to see Team USA field its largest ever parafencing team at those domestic Games. 

“This Para demo will jump-start our efforts to ensure that fencing establishes an NCAA Paralympic pipeline, knowing that the NCAA already has a prestigious Olympic fencing pipeline,” she says. “Not only will this demo benefit the future of fencing, it also signals to other governing bodies that it is possible to have Paralympic inclusion at the NCAA level.”

Chris Gines, chair of the NCAA fencing committee and associate athletics director for compliance at Air Force, echoes DeLuca’s enthusiasm. 

"We are very pleased to have the opportunity to work with USA Fencing to include a parafencing demonstration at our National Collegiate Fencing Championships this year,” he says. “Their presence provides yet another platform to increase visibility for parafencing athletes and gives our fans exposure to another branch of the growing fencing community. I can’t wait to see them competing on this national stage alongside our NCAA finalists.”

USA Fencing CEO Phil Andrews, along with parafencing manager Beth Mahr and the USA Fencing Board of Directors, helped ensure that parafencing had its own pillar in USA Fencing’s 2024-28 Strategic Plan. Andrews reflects on the broader impact this demonstration could have.

“Integrating a parafencing demonstration into the NCAA Fencing Championships is a testament to our commitment to parafencing, fostering collegiate opportunities for both able-bodied and Para athletes and the growth of fencing at all levels,” he says. “This initiative will highlight the exceptional talent of our parafencing athletes — while also setting a precedent for the integration of paralympic disciplines within collegiate and competitive sports. We’re proud to lead the way in championing these athletes and look forward to the positive impact this will have on the sport and on athletes with disabilities who aspire to compete at the highest levels and thank our partners at the NCAA, The Ohio State University and USOPC for sharing that vision.”

About USA Fencing

USA Fencing is the national governing body for the Olympic and Paralympic sport of fencing in the United States. Our mission is to grow and promote the sport of fencing in the United States, honor its rich traditions, and achieve sustained competitive international excellence. In USA Fencing, our athletes are strong and competitive both on the fencing strip and in life — a reminder that fencing provides physical and mental benefits that last a lifetime. 

Learn more about USA Fencing at or follow USA Fencing on X (@USAFencing), Instagram (@usafencing), Facebook (@USAFencing) and YouTube (@USAFencing)

About the USOPC

Founded in 1894 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee serves as both the National Olympic Committee and National Paralympic Committee for the United States. The USOPC is focused on protecting, supporting and empowering America’s athletes, and is responsible for fielding U.S. teams for the Olympic, Paralympic, Youth Olympic, Pan American and Parapan American Games, and serving as the steward of the Olympic and Paralympic movements in the U.S. For more information, visit

About the NCAA

The NCAA is a diverse association of more than 1,100 member colleges and universities that prioritize academics, well-being and fairness to create greater opportunities for nearly half a million student-athletes each year. The NCAA provides a pathway to higher education and beyond for student-athletes pursuing academic goals and competing in NCAA sports. More than 54,000 student-athletes experience the pinnacle of intercollegiate athletics by competing in NCAA championships each year. Visit and for more details about the Association and the corporate partnerships that support the NCAA and its student-athletes.

Tag(s): Updates