Peter Brand has led Harvard’s men’s and women’s fencing programs to their most successful era in school history since he joined the Crimson staff prior to the 1999-2000 season. He is the seventh coach in the 117-year history of Harvard fencing and just the second to lead the women’s squad. Brand has compiled a 175-75 overall record and a 47-29 mark in the Ivy League with the men’s team. On the women’s side, he owns a 214-67-1 overall record and a 58-33 mark against Ancient Eight opponents.
In that short time, Brand has delivered Harvard its first NCAA team championship, a combined four Intercollegiate Fencing Association three-weapon titles, two IFA six-weapon championships, and a combined seven Ivy League titles - three by the women and four by the men. He has also coached 53 All-Americans in his time behind the Harvard bench.
Harvard’s rise to the top of intercollegiate fencing has been nothing short of meteoric since Brand has been at the helm of the program. In the year prior to his arrival, Harvard’s men’s team had finished in last place in the Ivy League, while the women were fourth in a six-team league.
It took just five years for that to change. The 2004-05 season saw Harvard win its third Ivy League men’s championship, and its first since the 1976-77 season, as the Crimson shared the league title with Columbia. Harvard’s women, meanwhile, won the title for the first time in school history, going 5-0 in the league and 9-0 overall. Harvard went to claim men’s and women’s championships at the IFA Championships while taking the combined trophy as well. Emily Cross ‘08-09 won an individual national title in foil, as the Crimson finished sixth at the NCAA Championships -- at the time the highest finish in school history. In turn, the United States Fencing Coaches Association announced that Brand was chosen as the first winner of the Schreff Sword as the USFCA Outstanding Coach of the Year.
Brand’s teams managed to surpass those accomplishments in the 2005-06 season. Both the men’s and women’s teams again won Ivy League championships, with both schools earning perfect league records. The men’s team went 11-0 in dual competition, while the women went 12-1 as both teams again captured the three-weapon IFA titles while combining for the six-weapon championship.That success carried on to the NCAA regional competition held at Harvard as the Crimson qualified the maximum allotment of fencers for the NCAA Championships in Houston. There, Harvard stunned the traditional fencing powers as the Crimson claimed its first NCAA fencing title, and just its third NCAA team championship in any sport. Benji Ungar ‘08-09 also won an individual gold medal at the NCAA Championships in the epee division.In 2006-07, Brand coached Tim Hagamen ‘07 to an individual national championship in the men’s sabre division, as Hagamen defeated Notre Dame’s Patrick Ghattas, 15-14.
In 2007-08, Brand led a young Crimson squad to a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships as five men and five women qualified for nationals. Alexa Weingarden ‘08 earned All-America Second Team honors in the women’s sabre, while Alexandra Sneider ‘11 was All-America honorable mention in the same weapon. On the men’s side, Edward Sherrill ‘08 was received All-America Second Team accolades in the epee and Steve Ahn ‘08 captured All-America honorable mention in the sabre.
During the summer of 2008, Harvard sent two fencers to the Beijing Olympics, as Emily Cross ‘08-09 and Noam Mills competed in the foil and epee, respectively. Cross became the first-ever Harvard fencer to medal at the Olympics, as she earned a silver in the women’s team foil.
During the 2008-09 campaign, the team finished fifth at the NCAA Championships and earned four All-America selections (Noam Mills, Caroline Vloka, Emily Cross and Benjamin Ungar). The women’s squad posted a 20-1 overall record and was a perfect 6-0 against Ivy League opponents en route to its third Ancient Eight title in five seasons.
The 2009-10 season was highlighted with the crowning of Harvard’s second female NCAA Champion as Caroline Vloka captured the sabre title. The Crimson also garnered six All-Americans, four on the women’s side and two from the men’s team. Vloka and Noam Mills earned their second-straight All-America first team nods. Valentin Staller claimed a spot on the All-America second team with a sixth-place finish in the men’s sabre. Tommasso di Robilant (12th, foil), Artemisha Goldfeder (12th, foil) and Shelby MacLeod (11th, foil) all received All-America honorable mention. The Crimson claimed a fourth-place team finish at the NCAA Championships. On the year, the men’s team went 14-7 overall and 3-2 in the Ivy League. The women’s team boasted a 15-8 mark on the season and went 3-3 in the Ancient Eight.
In 2010-11, the Harvard women had its second straight individual national champion, this time from freshman Alexandra Kiefer in the foil. The Crimson had a combined five All-Americans, including two freshmen in Kiefer and men’s rookie Michael Raynis in epee. Raynis helped the men’s squad win its seventh Ivy League title and first since 2007 with a title-clinching victory over Yale’s Peter Cohen in the final bout. A total of 11 men’s and women’s Harvard fencers received all Ivy-League accolades for their efforts at the championship.
During the 2011-12 campaign, the Crimson earned six All-America selections, including senior Valentin Staller, who placed second in the NCAA Championships in the sabre. The Crimson finished sixth at NCAAs, as 12 fencers qualified for the championships.
Brand continued to keep the Crimson teams in the national picture in 2012-13, adding a third-straight top-six finish at the NCAA Championships with a team that earned six All-America selections.
In 2014, Brand coached Adrienne Jarocki to an individual sabre national championship as a freshman, marking the sixth individual national championship under his guidance. The 2014 squad set a school record with nine total All-Americans.
Brand was named the inaugural Ivy League Coach of the Year on the men's side in 2015, guiding the team to it's third-straight Ivy Championship. Harvard posted six total All-Americans, three from the men's team and three from the women's squad.
Before taking the reins of the Harvard program, Brand spent six years as the head men’s and women’s coach at Brown University and previously served as an assistant coach at MIT.
At Brown, Brand guided a successful program that regularly sent qualifiers to the NCAA Championships, which included three members of his 1998-99 team. He coached the Bears’ women’s team to a pair of New England championships (1994 and 1995), while the men’s squad captured the 1993 New England title. Brand was the Northeast Collegiate Fencing Conference’s 1994-95 Coach of the Year. While at MIT, he also gave private lessons and one of his students, Peter Cox, was selected to the 1996 United States Olympic Team.
Brand has an extensive background as a competitor as well. In 1972, he was chosen to the U.S. Junior Fencing Team, and one year later was a gold medalist at the Ottawa Shield, one of three elite fencing events held in Canada. He placed seventh at the 1975 Canadian national championships and fourth at the 1985 U.S. Championships. Brand participated in the 1987 U.S. Olympic Sports Festival, and in 1989 was a gold medalist for the U.S. at the Maccabiah Games.
Brand is a native of Israel who immigrated to the United States at age 13. He resides in Needham, with his wife, Jacqueline, and sons Alexander and Michael.