The Founding of William & Mary’s Fencing Club (1924 – 1948)

Flat Hat research done by Devon “Quasar” Keesee ’26

Leigh Tucker Jones (d. 1942) 

1924: Fencing team founded by Tucker Jones in 1924 (facing its centennial in the middle of a crisis) .

“Jones was responsible for organizing the department of physical education at W&M, for developing intramural athletics, and for encouraging amateur coaching of college athletics.”

(Flat Hat, Dec 8 1942) 

He added the sport of fencing to the college athletic program and served as the instructor of several championship teams.  

“Advanced work in gymnasium is being offered for the first time this quarter under the direction of Physical Director, L. Tucker Jones, assisted by Mr. Siersma. The advanced work consists of a class in the fundamentals of sparring and boxing. At present this class is composed almost entirely of new men, but it is hoped that a number of football and track men will enroll at the end of the season.” 

(Flat Hat, Oct 12 1923)

“The class in boxing opens up a new field of sport to students of the College and Coach Jones has expressed a desire for as many men as possible 
to take the work.” 

Sep 25 1934: Jones and Physical Education department issue call for a focus on intramural sports like archery and bridge.  

“All those interested in trying out for the fencing team or, in learning fencing, report to the small gym at Slow, Monday at the small gym at Blowl Monday at 4 o’clock.”

“Mac, back in 1934 and 1935, was the Indians’ Southern Intercollegiate fencing champion, probably as skillful a swordsman as ever wielded a foil for Coach Jones.”

Sep 29, 1936: Coach Jones issues a call for fencing recruitment after graduation of MacDonald and Gannaway.  

“With only three of last year’s team back for the squad, Coach Tucker Jones is anxious for a large turnout for the fencing team. Any freshmen or upperclassmen who know anything about fencing or who wish to learn are urged to report to the fencing room in Blow Gymn on Monday, Wednesday, or Friday afternoons at 4 p. m. The squad is undertaking a schedule as ambitious as last year’s and there is need of three or four replacements to fill the gaps left by MacDonald and Gannaway.”

Oct 5 1937: Fencers prepare for heavy 1938 schedule. Previous season was closed with 12 victories, one defeat. Reported even back in 1938 that “Experience is not necessary, the only requirements being enthusiasm and the will to learn.”  

Sep 26 1939: Women’s fencing starts practice in fall in preparation for spring tournaments.  

Dec 5 1939: Team is built upon 3 of previous years returning varsity men and two promising rookies. Take part in Eastern Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Tournament (Flat Hat describes this as the largest in the country, with W&M Fencing going up against leading fencers from the South and East.  


“The women’s fencing team 
chalked up another victory Saturday  

when they won a Triangular 
Meet in Jefferson Gyra against 
Hoffstra and Cornell. Hoffstra 
defeated Cornell, 8-1, William and 
Mary defeated Cornell 8-1. and 
then William and Mary defeated 
Hoffstra in a close match. 5-4, to 
win the whole meet.” 

(Flat Hat) April 15, 1941

“William and was defeated in the fencing meet, however, by the close score of 9 to 7. This was really a good showing, because the team that represented William and Mary was not the varsity team but members chosen from the fencing class.” 

(Flat Hat) April 22 1941


“To Mr. Jones, 
one of the best collegiate fencing 
coaches, should go entire credit for 
William and Mary’s consistently fine 
teams. He has nursed and mothered 
fencing here for many years and only 
through high standards and exacting 
demands have champions been produced” 

“Representing William and Mary at the 
ancient sport were Jim Glassman, rated 
Ail-American, and Bill Grover, both un- 
defeated in foil, epee, and sabre; Jim 
Hendry, undefeated in foil; and Dale 
Williams, defeated but once in epee and 
once in sabre.” 

(Flat Hat) Feb 18 1942

“William and Mary’s undefeated fenc- 
ers met and conquered their sixth con- 
secutive opponent of the year, downing 
Virginia Military Institute, here Friday 
afternoon at the local gym, 13 to 4. This 
was the second win for W. & M. over 
the Cadet fencers this year. The student 
body has grown so accustomed to Tucker 
Jones’, great teams that we often fail to 
give him or the team the credit they 
deserve. The team’s record for the past 
30 years is more than just good, it is 
remarkable. Last season the team lost 
only one match out of nine, and this 
year the team is undefeated -in six 
matches. In these seasons William and 
Mary has faced the best teams on the 
Atlantic coast.” 

(Flat Hat) Mar 18 1942

Reports that it is the first year Coach Jones has had more than 5 men on his squad. 

  • Coach Jones passes away in early December, but Flat Hat reports W&M Fencing Team dedicated the season to his memory and were determined to “make this the best year in the team’s history.” 
  • Insane schedule. Less than a week between all tournaments. 


“Something new in intramural com- 
petition is being introduced this year. 
Fencing murals are scheduled to come 
off from March 6 to 15. A fencing 
unit is to be made up of two or not 
more than three people. Anyone who 
has been in a fencing class for a 
semester at college or who has had 
experience enough suitable to D r . 
Sinclair in the sport is eligible to 
participate in the event. Four prac- 
tices are required. Anyone may check 
out equipment in Jefferson gym and 
may practice in the gym or in her own 
room. Notice for when the gym is 
available for practices is posted on the 
bulletin board in the physical educa- 
tion office. It is desirable to practice 
with a partner. Ruth Paul is chair- 
man of fencing intramurals.” 

(Flat Hat) Feb 28 1945

“Experienced fencers will be 
issued fencing equipment in the 
Jefferson gym office Tuesday , De- 
cember 3 from 2 – 3 p.m. Since 
there are no fencing classes this 
year, this will allow those inter – 
ested to workout.” 

(Flat Hat) Nov 28 1945


“Shirley Lyons, more often called 
“Leo,” successfully defended her 
title last Thursday, March 24, in 
the annual Open Fencing Tourna- 
ment, sponsored by the Fencing 

(Flat Hat) Mar 29 1947


William and Mary is the only 
college in this section of the coun- 
try which sponsors fencing as an 
organized sport for women. 

(Flat Hat) Nov 30 1948