The resume of Tim Morehouse ’00 speaks for itself: U.S. Silver Medalist, three-time Olympic team member, seven-time World Cup Medalist and three-time NCAA All-American. He has been featured on the Today Show, Access Hollywood, Good Day New York, MSNBC and Bloomberg News. He even demonstrated fencing technique to President Obama on the White House lawn in 2009.
All of these accolades, however, tell only half of Morehouse’s story.
Morehouse started fencing at the age of 13 after he saw a sign in his high school to join the fencing team.
“At the time, I didn’t even know what it was, but I fell in love with it,” he said.
Through Morehouse’s dedication, he quickly became a rising star in fencing. In his first year at Brandeis, Morehouse wasn’t even ranked; however, by the start of his sophomore year, Morehouse was already ranked 10th in the country.
“Martin Schneider, my first fencing coach, had a great impact showing me the sport and Coach Shipman furthered that. Brandeis was the only school that recruited me,” he said.
Immediately after graduating from Brandeis, Morehouse joined Teach for America with one of his roommates. “I was looking to do something where I could contribute to our country and Teach for America looked like a great way to do that. I taught seventh grade social studies in Washington Heights for three years and after Beijing I was a staff trainer for teachers in the Bronx.”
On Aug. 17, Morehouse was recognized at the White House for his time with Teach for America as a “Champion of Change,” part of President Obama’s “Win for the Future” program. More than 150 AmeriCorps alumni from 25 states visited the White House for the day-long ceremony. Only 12 were selected as Champions of Change.
Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of the Office of Public Engagement, Jon Carson praised the service program in a press release.
“President Obama has always been a strong supporter of the AmeriCorps program and the role it plays in strengthening communities across the country. We’re excited to honor 12 AmeriCorps Alums who are continuing in the spirit of their AmeriCorps pledge to ‘get things done for America’ as leaders in the public, for-profit and nonprofit sectors, and to celebrate AmeriCorps as a pathway to opportunity for those who serve,” Carson wrote.
Morehouse said it was a major honor.
“I feel like the stuff I do for Teach for America gets overlooked. I don’t do stuff for accolades but it’s nice that people recognize that I contribute to our country.” Morehouse said. “[Fencing and Teach for America] have all been equally rewarding. Both Teach for America and fencing have both given me so much. I can’t imagine life without the other.”
But the pinnacle of Morehouse’s career came during the Beijing Olympics. Morehouse says, “When I won silver in Beijing it was like a dream come true. I fainted when we won the semi-final and knew we were guaranteed at least silver. It’s an overwhelming feeling.”
In the London games, Morehouse advanced to the individual quarterfinals in sabre after a pair of upsets, ultimately finishing in eighth place after entering competition as the 27th seed. In team competition, the United States entered as the eighth seed; however, they lost to Russia in the opening round and then subsequently fell to China and Belarus in the consolation rounds to finish in eighth place.
Morehouse described the exciting spirit of London, even though he did not earn a medal in the games. “I felt like London was a traditional home for fencing. Nothing will be as epic in terms of the size and scope of Beijing, but I feel like London really got it right in terms of the spirit of the games,” he said.
As far as he can remember, Morehouse always wanted to be an Olympic athlete. “I always dreamed about being an Olympian as a kid, but who really thinks you can get there. And the more I trained, the more I thought I could see it as a possible reality. I feel very fortunate to have made three Olympic teams.”
Morehouse credits Brandeis with shaping his career. “I loved fencing and I feel that Brandeis gave me balance. I was able to pursue fencing and be the best I could be while at the same time helping others be the best they could be.”
Morehouse has not decided whether to compete in Rio in 2016; however, in the meantime he is focused on the foundation he started in 2011: Fencing-in-the-Schools, a non-profit program dedicated to bringing the sport of fencing to under-served communities throughout the country, seeking to combine his Teach for America and fencing experience.
Morehouse advises athletes who dream of representing their country at the Olympics to believe in their goals regardless of talent.
“Start with a goal and then commit to that goal with everything they have. I think they’d be surprised how much they can achieve if they set the bar high and never give up,” Morehouse said. “I was never the most talented fencer but I worked hard and overcame every challenge that was in my path.”
Correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled Tim Morehouse’s name and stated that his first coach was Mark Schneider. It was Martin Schneider.