Carla-Mae Richards allowed me to interview her the first day of Summer Nationals this year. It was really intimidating because she is a legend in our sport. Not only was she a fencer back when girls weren’t really allowed to participate in sports, but she became the first Executive Director of what would become the United States Fencing Association. She has had a direct influence on many aspects of fencing, including the structure of the North American Cup, or NAC, tournament series.
If you want to read the speech she gave as she was being inducted into the Fencing Hall of Fame, visit http://usfencinghalloffame.com/wp/richards-carla-mae/ Here’s a quote from it: Though I never succeeded, as an athlete, beyond New England fencing, there remained the fierce determination of the competitor to prove oneself. And so I traded the sword for the pen and paved the way for future growth – not just in numbers but in stature of and respect for US athletes. It was a roller coaster ride especially with little preparation. Today one would look for a person with sports administration background and perhaps an MBA. I was a computer programmer, a part time high school fencing coach and partner in our own fencing businesses. To say that I tackled the challenges by the seat of my pants is an understatement and I landed on my seat more times than I can recall. The learning process was arduous, not just for me but for all the volunteers who were conditioned to run the organization from the get go.
Listen as Ms. Richards tells you many stories about her experiences helping American fencing grow on the international stage. You’ll probably recognize some of the names of people she mentions—she knows A LOT of people!