Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Andrew Mackiewicz, but sometimes I’m called Andy. I am 26 years old, living in Lower East Side (LES) Manhattan, and I’m a Creative, DJ, and a Team USA Olympic Fencer going for Gold in Paris 2024. Starting at a young age, I’ve been fencing for more than 18 years. If it wasn’t fencing, I’d dive into any other sport to fuel my competitive nature.
Why do I still fence? Passion is a blessing and a curse! When there is something you love doing you’ll never want to give up on it and find a way to keep going after your aspirations, regardless of the sacrifices and challenges that come with it. I want to represent the possibility to others that any dream is attainable by just taking a risk and getting started. You’ll have to get used to being comfortable with being uncomfortable. I was once a kid with a dream of making it to the Olympic Games – I’ve obtained that but believe I’m just getting started.
Along my journey, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs. I’ve come to notice the good, the bad, the beautiful, and the ugly of the world through my travels. I want to use my platform as a way to bring hope and encouragement to others that want to go after their dreams. All while expressing that being on a different path than the social norm is OK!
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I’m 26 years old but still a kid at heart. I’ve come to learn how to live in the moment and be present. I don’t want to sound like a preacher by emphasizing how precious life is, but it really is something beautiful. I’m curious about the world and I wish there was more time in one’s life to try to experience it all. Having done a sport that isn’t as popular as other American sports, I’ve gotten comfortable trying new things and engaging with interesting people. I started DJing during COVID and never would have guessed I’d end up Djing at one of NYC’s hottest rooftop clubs. Ya I’m a Fencer but so much more than that too. I’m an athlete that Djs, is a star wars nerd, and a dreamer. My next dream is going for Gold in Paris 2024.
I dwell on the good and beautiful of life in order to keep my imagination, sensitivity, and gratitude intact. Yes, it’s not easy to maintain this perspective, as I know life is full of surprises and challenges but I know I will never completely falter if I look towards the good.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
Honestly, my parents started getting fed up with my brother and I beating on each other, so one day they gifted us toy lightsabers – you know, from Star Wars. Mine was blue, I wanted to be like Anakin, and I thought wow this is cool! From there on, my parents put me in my first fencing class and that’s where it took off. I have to be honest though, I hated that class. It was so strict and reminded me of a children’s boot camp. I was 8 at the time and can confirm, it was definitely not your typical recess or school gym class. Anyways, as I progressed with the sport, I hit several milestones and achievements. My AH-HA moment was competing in the Tokyo Olympics. Being on the world’s biggest stage and maximizing my olympic experience instilled a new hunger in me. I was initially going to hang up the saber and mask after I competed in Tokyo, but I realized this was only the beginning of my journey. There is so much I can still give to the sport and the community outside of it as well.
The next chapter: Gold in Paris 2024
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
Fencing is not your typical sport. I grew up in a town where other athletes would travel to neighboring towns or states to compete, however, I was traveling around the world for different competitions. With that, I would often miss class, I didn’t particularly hate that, which meant I would fall behind with my schoolwork. Also not playing a typical American sport led to me being picked on and made fun of by my classmates.
After two consecutive years of winning NCAA Championships, I hit a low point my junior year at Penn State. Throughout the years, I did a great good job balancing school, fencing, and my social life. However, junior year my grades started slipping; so much that I failed two classes. My living situation was not ideal. I was in an ambiguous state of my life which led to my mental state of mind deciding if fencing defined me.
Was fencing something I really wanted to pursue after finishing my undergraduate degree? I was not doing well in my competitions. I almost lost a grasp of the life I had previously been living. The bottom line, my mental health spiraled downward and I was in a dark place. As an athlete you are told to always keep your struggles internally and not to show weakness. I was struggling and felt hopeless with no way out. Thankfully, a father in the fencing community had always kept in contact with me. I think he realized a difference in my tone and demeanor during that time. He called me and was able to get me to open up and be vulnerable. He was able to get me to believe in myself as much as he did in me. I took this to heart and really valued the advice he would give me. My relationship with him came to an end when he passed away in the winter of 2018 after battling cancer. I went on to continue what he had taught me about self worth and resiliency.
Fast forward a few months and I’m back home at my parents after finishing up my undergraduate degree. I was in a position where I decided to devote the next few years to qualifying for the Olympics. I was living at home with my parents and my friends were all off in the world starting their own lives; a weird place to be mentally. It’s easier said than done to not compare yourself to others, but working a door-to-door sales job to pay for my fencing endeavors while my peers were crushing it in the professional world, made my Olympic journey to Tokyo tough. The reality of it is, you are on your own island. One of the biggest lessons I learned during that process was your pursuit towards your dreams is a lonely road. Within it however, you find the strength from within to continue and trust the path you are carving for yourself. A path not many others are willing to take.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
One person I’d like to meet is Idris Elba, I think he is a creative genius. Not many know that outside his acting pursuits he is a House DJ. It’s some epic stuff! I’d love to pick his brain on how he navigated into different entertainment spaces.
Another person I’d like to meet is Megan Rapinoe, well.. meet again. I was lucky enough to get a quick photo with her at the Tokyo Olympic Training Center, but I’d love to sit down with her and learn more about her work within the Mental Health space. She has been an amazing advocate in that area, especially with athletes, and has even invested in a Mental Health startup!
Lastly, it would be epic to meet David Grutman. The guy is the unspoken mayor of Miami for a reason. His approach of building relationships with people and communities is incredible. I love the way he approaches his businesses and building brands. Being in a position to meet incredible people and work with building brands, events, etc would be something I’m considering once my fencing days are over. He does hang out with a lot of tennis stars which is cool, but if he wants to throw in fencing practice – I’m his guy.
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