Judges of the Week: Luke Ritchie ’24 and Alex McKee ’26
Two fencers were recognized as Judges of the Week last week, an award presented by Jake N’ Joes, Chateau Dining and Brandeis Athletics.
Following their stellar performances at the Eric Sollee Invitational last Saturday, senior foil fencer Luke Ritchie ’24 and junior foil fencer Alex McKee ’25 were honored as Judges of the Week.
At the invitational, foilist Ritchie went 3-0 against the New Jersey Institute of Technology, the Stevens Institute of Technology and Duke University, and 2-1 against Haverford College. He went 11-1 in foil for the Judges’ highest winning percentage of the day. McKee, who also fences roil, finished with a 14-2 record and had a winning record against all six of her opponents. She went 3-0 against NJIT, Stevens and Haverford and 1-0 against Duke.
Luke Ritchie ’24
The Eric Solle was more than just a success for Ritchie — it was his final home meet as a Brandeis Judge. He told The Justice in a Feb. 6 interview that the senior meet meant a lot to him. “To be able to do as well as not only I did individually … but as well as we did as a team was a great way to end my time competing at Brandeis,” he said. The trip to the Air Force Academy was also a moment to remember; the Judges’ performance this season was the best the team has done there since Ritchie began fencing at Brandeis.
This season is not Ritchie’s only memory worth noting. In his sophomore year — the 2021-2022 season — the Judges beat Boston College, only a couple weeks after a particularly devastating loss against the Eagles. Beating Brandeis’ biggest rival at home was, as Ritchie put it, “amazing.”
Even with all his wins and successes, Ritchie found fencing to be a stressor this season. The hardest part, he said, has been staying focused. This school year has been particularly busy for him, and becoming the men’s foil captain only added to his workload. That being said, Ritchie put in the effort to ensure this season was a good one. “More important than [the stress], however, is the fact that this is my last season, and I don’t intend on fencing after college,” he explained. “Finding the motivation to work hard has been difficult, but I keep reminding myself that I need to show up for my team as much as I do [for] myself.”
While he may be leaving his fencing career behind, he is looking forward to the future. Currently, he works in a residential clinic treating individuals with eating disorders, and someday, Ritchie hopes to become a clinical psychologist. Working in the clinic enabled him to get “real world experience” under his belt before he graduates this May.
The Judges head off to Duke next weekend, and it may be Ritchie’s last opportunity to fence. The Regional qualifiers are on the horizon, and if Ritchie does not make nationals [maybe fact-check this is what that means], the tournament will be Ritchie’s last opportunity to fence. “I have some mixed emotions going into that, for sure, but I’ve enjoyed my time in the sport,” he told The Justice. “I think I’m ready to hang it up.”
“Although I’ll be leaving soon, I know I am leaving the team in good hands and can’t wait to see how far this team can grow next year,” he said.
Alex McKee ’25
McKee left the Eric Sollee Invitational proud, making her mark with her first wins against Duke and New York University. Last semester, she was out with injuries and unable to compete much as a result, so the opportunity to come back and beat out the competition felt great.
Said injuries were a struggle for McKee. The inability to practice for much of the fall was frustrating, and she is not taking her recovery or her success this season for granted. “Thanks to our athletic trainers, I've been able to practice more this semester, and it seems to be paying off in competition, which I'm grateful for,” she said.
Her freshman year was formative for her as a person and as a player. The Western Invitational was her first time traveling with the fencing team, and she still looks back on the memories made. Traveling with the team did not lose its charm past her first year at Brandeis, either — the trip to the Air Force Academy last semester was similarly an important experience for McKee.
These two fencers have made a huge impact on Brandeis fencing and will undoubtedly continue to have a positive impact on the program. The Judges will take on Duke University in North Carolina this weekend in the Duke Invitational.