Courtney Hurley notched 13 wins on day three of competition at the 2009 NCAA Fencing Championship.

A Family Tradition

Jan. 20, 2009

By Tim Kaiser
Notre Dame Sports Information

There are few families that can claim to have a world-class athlete among their ranks.

The Hurleys can claim two.

Notre Dame freshman and World Champion Courtney Hurley joins her sister Kelly, a junior, on the women’s fencing team this year. Both will compete in the Epee event for the Irish.

The two sisters are currently ranked Nos. 2 and 3 in the country, but have held the top two spots as recently as last year.

Courtney may be new to Notre Dame, but she has been well-known in fencing circles for years. She enters Notre Dame with an impressive resume that includes winning the Cadet World Cup in 2006 and a gold medal at the Pan-American games in 2007, in addition to her National Championship. She also recently was part of an Epee team who finished first at the Junior World Cup, held in Montreal in October.

Of all her accomplishments, Hurley is most proud of her Cadet World Cup medal. “The Junior World Cup was a team event, while this was individual” Hurley said, “And it was my first big one.”

Both have achieved very favorable results: in addition to Courtney’s recent success, Kelly was the lone U.S. competitor in the women’s Epee at the 2008 Olympics, placing 20th overall. Courtney has had the upper hand in head-to-head competition recently, finishing higher at events than Kelly, and is ranked one spot ahead of her older sister.

Both of the sisters’ parents were fencers, and both Kelly and Courtney started to fence at a young age. The two grew up not only training together, but competing against one another, which occasionally led to some tension between them.

The relationship between the two benefitted from some time apart. The sisters have seen each other much less often in the past few years, with Kelly spending most of her time training in South Bend, and Courtney traveling extensively to compete in many different events.

Courtney may have wished to go elsewhere for college for similar reasons. She would have loved to attend an Ivy League school, but received no scholarship offers, and in the end, Notre Dame was too appealing.

“I came to Notre Dame because it was the best school that offered me a scholarship,” she said, “but also, it’s just ND. It’s got tradition, and my sister is here. And they also just have a really good team.”

And though the two are back together again at Notre Dame, they seem to be coexisting peacefully.

“I really like it,” Courtney said about being on the same team with her sister this year. “I think we get along better now than we did before.”

Though the two are both trained on the Epee and must face each other in competition, there is no animosity; only a healthy sibling rivalry.

“It’s hard, because we’re both on the same weapon, competing for the same spot,” she said. “But there’s no hate.”

While Courtney hasn’t lost a step on the piste in coming to Notre Dame, the transition to college life has been a harder one for her. She admits that the academics have been hard for her, and her schedule is completely different.

“I came from a public school, and I was hardly ever there,” she said, citing travelling to fencing events as the reason for her absences, “But now I’m here all the time.”

She also knows that staying in one place has its benefits.

“There was no place to train in Texas like there is here,” she said.

Her goals while at Notre Dame are simple: she wants to win another junior world Championship this year, and would love to win an NCAA Championship. She has performed well in her Notre Dame career so far, taking second place at the Penn State open in the fall.