What role do you see fencing coaches playing in the growth of the sport of fencing and where do you see that growth happening?
Knowledgeable, charismatic, experienced , and results oriented coaches play an essential role in the growth of the sport of fencing in the US club system. The vast majority of the successful fencing clubs are either run by these coaches or run by a manager who hires them: Alliance Fencing Academy, Academy of Fencing Masters, Fencers Club, LA Fencing Center, Manhattan Fencing Center, Massialas Foundation, Medeo Fencing Club, Nellya Fencers, Olympia Fencing Center, Silicon Valley Fencing Center, Windy City Fencing and many more. At the same time clubs that are run by parents, immature fencers, or by those inexperienced in the sport, don’t contribute to the growth of fencing; In some cases it actually damages the image of our sport.
How do you envision USA Fencing working with USFCA on the recruitment of NCAA colleges to add fencing teams? If not, why not.
Both the USAF and USFCA have to use its channels and personal connections to reach out to universities in different states. Most of the coaches are simply unable to do so because they don’t know how to approach these universities. They don’t have the necessary connection nor know how to present it properly, and in many cases a language barrier arises. The NCAA fencing is the reason why so many parents across the country choose our sport. The biggest challenge that NCAA programs face is hiring high level professional coaches; however problems arise due to the fact they can’t offer these coaches the same (or higher) salary they receive at their private clubs. The reality is that many of the NCAA coaches are either former fencers who just finished their fencing career or coaches who didn’t find themselves developing strong successful clubs. Some of them choose the NCAA for its convenience, social security benefits, health insurance, etc.
Except for USA Fencing, NGBs in all major sports organizations require certification and continuing education units every year to teach in their respective sports. Do you support coaching education, training, continuing education, certification and ultimately a licensing requirement for all US Fencing Coaches? Why or Why not?
I do support the coaches' education but not the way it was done in the past or the current approach. We have quite a few certified Monitors and Maestros who in reality don’t produce the top national and international fencers. I believe it should be a mentorship program through successful private clubs. For example, the USFCA or/and USAF produce a list of top fencing clubs (solely based on its results) where you can take your Coach’s Course in person and via Zoom learning from those club coaches. With the completion of the course, the coach gets (or doesn't if failed) a diploma/certificate from that club.Just like university rankings, certain club diplomas will hold higher ranking. So your potential NCAA, private club, or national team here in the US or abroad can hire you based on your “graduation” club. But more importantly you will learn much more than you currently are learning in a 3-5 day Coach’s Course. As the certification goes, I’m not sure what is the purpose of it? It really doesn’t matter to your potential employer. Your results as a coach matter. Many top US coaches are not certified “Maestros” for example. They are just good coaches. However, I do believe that we need a Coach’s License. It should be a requirement for coaching in the US to obtain a license for which you must successfully complete the Safe Sport, Background Check, and a very basic Coach’s Course that should be mostly focused on coaching experience in the US. Coaches who already worked in the US for at least one year before the potential license requirement takes place should receive it automatically since they have already passed the Safe Sport and Background Check.