What role do you see fencing coaches playing in the growth of the sport of fencing and where do you see that growth happening?
Since I began fencing in 1985 USA fencing has seen a tremendous growth in the number of fencers. This is an exciting time as fencing becomes more popular and well known. At the time I began there were approximately 3000 members and now it is more than 35000. I was lucky to start with great coaches in Michigan as they had been involved with Wayne State university which was a very successful ncaa program at that time.
As the number of fencers in the US continues to grow as well as our international level continues to rise, so does the need for an increased number of coaches as well and increased quality and experience at all levels. Coaches, especially educated and seasoned coaches, are essential to our continued growth and success.
As the business manager for Renaissance Fencing Club, one of most successful youth foil clubs, we are always in need of more coaches. I am fully in support of the development and education of coaches. At our club we have had the fantastic ability to ensure that our coaches can earn a reasonable salary as full time coaches.
How do you envision USA Fencing working with USFCA on the recruitment of NCAA colleges to add fencing teams? If not, why not.
Increasing the number of colleges with fencing NCAA programs should be one of the primary goals for all persons involved in the sport of fencing. Inclusion of fencing in the NCAAs is critical to our sports future and success.
Increasing the number of coaches will greatly and directly assist this ambition as a greater pool of qualified individuals to lead NCAA programs will of course make it much easier to create more successful collegiate fencing teams.
Recruiting fencers to coaching and making it clear to them that this can be a full time career could be greatly assisted by the USFCA.
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?
Although I am a three time olympian and full time manager at a successful fencing club I do not personally have any coaching certification. Part of the reason is because although I have joined the USFCA it has been somewhat difficult to navigate the steps needed to obtain a useful and relevant certificate. When I presented the outline for my thesis my idea was not encouraged.
I support all efforts to make USFCA official certification more seamless and relevant for current coaches.
Foreign coaches often have formal education from their home countries that exceeds that which is able to be obtained in the United States. This has so far been a positive influence for our fencers and coaches. We have greatly improved our ranking in the world not only with foreign coaches but with American coaches. We do not need to change course completely or add any requirements for those coaches who are already garnering great results and improving their abilities. However making ongoing education available to those who are interested will be a great resource.
For example when learning to coach in Germany, coaches can achieve a few different certificates of coaching. They have the option to obtain the highest coach rating by attending two years of formal education in Bonn. However several national coaches have not taken this extra step. I believe we have a similar system in the USA where many knowledgeable coaches have not received formal certification. Rather than requiring these coaches to take a certain test, I would support a way to involve them in a way that helps both them and the college.
When starting to give lessons I myself traveled to New York and worked with my coach Buckie Leach. I made videos of his lessons and spent time for weeks discussing his opinions on how to teach certain actions. For many months after I checked in with him about his ideas of next steps or different views on teaching actions or a sequence of actions. I watched many lessons from international and national coaches both online and at competitions.
I support resources for coaches who are trying to improve their own level of understanding and teaching. However I would like to assure that this is not a one size fits all requirement. The education must be relevant and useful for the group that is learning.