Brandeis’ Olympic fencer Tim Morehouse
Timothy (Tim) Frank Morehouse ’00 is a Brandeis alum and the Olympic athlete to graduate from Brandeis University. Morehouse was a silver medalist on the United States fencing team, competing in the men’s sabre division at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing, China, and also a member of the 2004 and 2012 Olympic teams. In addition, he was a two-time individual United States National Champion in 2010 and 2011. A native of the Bronx in New York City, Morehouse decided to take up the sport of fencing in order to get excused from gym class at Riverdale High School. In addition to being captain of the fencing team, he was a four-year member of the Riverdale Country School’s baseball team and a one-year member of the cross-country team.
Morehouse’s maternal grandmother was a Jewish immigrant, and she and her two sisters escaped from Germany in the mid-1930s, settling in the U.S. He credits much of his drive to his grandmother’s determination. After settling in the U.S., Morehouse’s grandmother joined the Quakers because of their relief work after World War II, but she raised her family with a mixture of traditions.
Morehouse enrolled at Brandeis University in 1996 after being recruited by Brandeis for the school’s fencing team. By the time Morehouse got to his sophomore year, he was ranked in the top 10 of the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division I men’s sabre and stayed there during his last years of college, surprising many of the schools who never gave him a look coming out of high school. In fact, Morehouse was ranked in the NCAA tenth in 1998, sixth in 1999 and fourth in 2000. As a senior, he was voted by coaches and athletes as NCAA men’s sabre Fencer of the Year, and he led Brandeis to the rank of tenth among all Division I schools in 2000. In 2000, Morehouse received a bachelor’s degree in history from Brandeis, and in 2003 a master’s degree in teaching from Pace University. In 2009 Morehouse was inducted into the Brandeis Athletics Hall of Fame and was the youngest recipient of Brandeis University’s Alumni Achievement Award in 2010 for his achievements as an athlete and his work with Teach For America according to TimMorehouse.com.
After graduating from Brandeis, Morehouse taught underprivileged students with Teach For America, teaching seventh grade in Washington Heights, New York City. During this time, he also coached the fencing team at his alma mater, Riverdale Country School. After three years of teaching, Morehouse felt that if he was telling his students not to stop reaching for their dreams, he should be a role model and do the same. Morehouse stayed involved with Teach For America while he trained for the 2004 Olympics, his dream. Morehouse lost every match for the first two and a half years, traveling to over 20 matches all over the world, until year three when he won his first World Cup match. The following year, Morehouse perserved and won enough matches to make his first Olympic team in 2004, surprising everyone.
Two years following the games, he started losing matches, because he tried to change his awkward moves. By year three, Morehouse went back to his old style and started winning again. Morehouse made the 2008 Olympics and his team won a silver medal for Team USA, the first fencing medal since 1948. That moment was when Morehouse realized you have to embrace your style and dreams to be successful, not someone else’s.
After the 2008 Olympics, Morehouse began to promote fencing throughout the United States. He became a motivational speaker to tens of thousands of children and Fortune 100 and 500 companies on his path to become an Olympic athlete and the drive to set yourself a goal and not to give up. In 2009, he even taught President Obama to fence on the White House lawn when Chicago, Illinois was making a bid for the Summer 2016 Olympics. In 2012, Morehouse founded Fencing in the Schools, a non-profit program to bring the sport of fencing to under-served communities throughout the country. Morehouse met President Obama again when he was honored in 2012 as one of the President’s “Champions of Change” at the White House for his service to the country through Teach For America and AmeriCorps.
Because of his heritage, Morehouse was able to participate in the 2013 Maccabiah Games. The Maccabiah Games is an international Jewish athletic event held every four years in Israel. In November 2014, Morehouse received the Athletes in Excellence Award from the Foundation for Global Sports Development, in recognition of his community service efforts and work with youth.
In 2015, Morehouse founded the Morehouse Fencing School in New York City. The club specializes in beginner fencers in youth and adults. Morehouse’s goal is to create a sense of interest for the sport of fencing and perhaps an Olympic athlete, who may never have an Olympic dream. Otherwise the club has been recognized as one of the fastest rising fencing clubs in the U.S. and now has five locations. In 2019, the club has several nationally ranked members in Youth-10 girls and Youth-10 boys. Besides the Morehouse Fencing Club, Morehouse is working on developing new technology to improve the sport of fencing. The prototypes for the foil have a goal to make the sport wire-free, without wired jackets.
Morehouse is also the author of an autobiography, “American Fencer: Modern Lessons from an Ancient Sport.” The book recounts his experiences growing up in one of New York City’s rough neighborhoods in the 1980s and his journey of becoming an Olympic athlete and teacher. Morehouse has built a career as an athlete, author, lecturer, entertainer and philanthropist, which all started a high school student who tried a sport to get out of gym class and ended up making it the core of his life’s work and passion.