Back in the day, coaches received training at was then called Coaches’ College. Begun in the late 80s by the United States Fencing Association, its purpose was to create an opportunity for professional development for fencing coaches.
When the cold war ended, the USFA brought Soviet bloc coaches over in 1990 to lead the program with Jack Keene serving as the main organizer. Alex Beguinet and Vinnie Bradford took up the reins in 1993. Vinnie helped organize it for 10 years, Alex for 20. The USFA decided to cancel the Coaches’ College in 2003.
The United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) started the Coaches’ Academy last year to fill the professional development void. Only 8 coaches attended but the spark was created. The Academy this year, organized by Gary Vanderwege, had triple the number of participants. It featured a Moniteur level session from July 30-Aug 3, and an advanced (Prevot and Master) level session from Aug 2-6. The USFCA Annual General meeting was held Aug 3 and several special awards were given out.
The main purpose of the Coaches’ Academy was to prepare coaches for their certification exams, with most sessions being led by fencing Masters like Peter Burchard, Gary Vanderwege, Paul Sise, Vinnie Bradford, and Jen Oldham. Ariana Klinkov and David Sierra also were on hand to help guide participants. In addition there were sessions such as sport psychology, the business side of being a fencing coach, armory sessions led by Michael Mergens, referee seminars, yoga, watching Dan Kellner give Sam Moelis a high-level Foil lesson, a roundtable discussion about coach vs referee ethics, among others.
All in all the Coaches’ Academy appears to be getting off to a strong start, as evidenced by the comments from the participants. Listen now to their input about what they experienced at Keystone College in Pennsylvania in early August.