Hall of Fame

James E O'Neill

Graduation Year


Induction Year


Hall of Fame

Harvard Athletic Achievements

Jim became the first Crimson fencer to wear an NCAA crown in over 47 years when he captured the 1987 NCAA Individual Epee National Championship. That win also made him Harvard's first NCAA champion in and sport since 1979. He won the 1988 International Fencing Association crown and was the first Harvard man to win both championships in the same weapon. In 1988, he finished third in the NCAA Championships and earned All-American honors in both 1987 and 1988.

Hall of Fame

Remembering Harvard Athletics

It is an honor and privilege to be standing here tonight. I am truly humbled to be included among the great athletes being recognized this year and those that have preceded us into the Harvard Varsity Club Hall of Fame. Congratulations to all.

I have several vivid memories of my Harvard Fencing experience. I will never forget the St. Patrick’s Day Zoran Tulum, Kevin McCarthy and I spent in South Bend, Indiana on the eve of the 1987 NCAA Men’s Individual Epee championships. I would like to thank them for being there. We were all so relaxed, as if we knew how magical the next day would be for Harvard Fencing and me. The next day, I remember hoisting the trophy and seeing the pride in Ben Zivkovic’s eyes. It was truly a special moment. Defeating Yale, Princeton and Pennsylvania during my Harvard career was very special. The other very special times include the Penn State Open in 1986, the IFA championships my senior year, and being elected team captain.

Fencing has a long and storied history here at Harvard. There have been many great contributors to the program over the last century; I would like to take this opportunity to thank them and their families for their strong support, without which the Harvard program would not be what it is today. Thank You. I am proud to be part of this legacy. I’d like to give special recognition to the great contribution to Harvard Fencing made by Luca Cicchetti and Jeff Levy, my team captains and mentors in my freshman year, and Kevin McCarthy, the team captain my junior year.

I have been blessed with incredible coaches and mentors over the years. My high school coach, Elliot Lillien, brought an unbridled enthusiasm and an historical perspective. Joe Pechinsky gave me a winning game and the self-confidence to become a champion. Ben Zivkovic, who is a fantastic promoter of Harvard Fencing, gave Harvard fencers everything we needed to succeed. Zoron Tulum brought energy and a sense of confidence to the program in his short time here. And, after college, Aladar Kogler, who helped me refine my game to be competitive on the International scene. Thank you Masters.

My mom, what can I say? Thank you for taking me to all those practices and tournaments growing up. Thank you for inspiring us to never settle for anything less than excellence. To my late father, your love of sports and intellectual curiosity were contagious. To my sister, a NCAA champion, Olympic Team member and Hall of Fame inductee at her alma mater, UPenn, thanks for setting the bar so high. To my brother, thanks for all those wrestling matches in the living room growing up. I’m sure I would never have been the athlete I was without the competition you provided. I also want to thank my wife Kristen for her support and companionship over the last eight years. My wife and daughter are the center of my world and where I wish to spend my time.

I am very grateful for the education and opportunities that Harvard has provided me. Fencing has been a very important part of my life. I have developed many life long friends through fencing that I cherish. I’d like to thank the Hall of Fame Committee for making this wonderful evening possible.