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2023 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships

Welcome to the hub for the 2023 IWAS Wheelchair Fencing World Championships, held Oct. 3–8 in Terni, Italy!

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Team USA Bios

Nico Badeaux

  • Club: Fencing Institute of Texas
  • Hometown: New Iberia, La.
  • Coaches: Gregoris Serrano Sierra, Zain Shaito, and Julio Diaz
  • Instagram: @nicobadeaux_photography
  • Fencing origin story: I started my Paralympic career in Track & Field and was going through burnout in that sport after competing for 17 years. I took part in a fencing expo back in late 2019 while looking for a new sport to pick up in college. Putting on the gear and swinging a saber blade around just released my inner child that I hadn't had for a few years of sport. After the pandemic was over and clubs reopened I finally got to joining the sport. Working out, training, and competing was fun again for me — I've been tied to fencing ever since.
  • Why I love fencing: Lightsaber and dueling fantasies aside - I'm passionate about the personal intensity fencing presents to you with two problems: yourself and whoever your opponent is. You don't just have to figure out and beat another person but sometimes yourself too. Whether it's a good or bad day, you're always in a flux of improvement and stagnation. Nothing is written in stone whenever you get on the piste to fence.
  • Advice: Live, Laugh, Love, Lunge
  • Shoutouts: My club managers Brenda & Ovy Waddoups, first fencing coach Jeff Crowe, National Parafencing Coach Julio Diaz, and my family.

Byron Branch

  • Hometown: Englewood, Ohio
  • Coach: Elvis Gregory
  • Instagram: @Chester__rockwell
  • Fencing origin story: Began in high school from 2001-03 and fenced able-bodied in the USFA from 2007-2016.
  • Why I love fencing: It's just an intellectually superior sport where strength is irrelevant and thought process is king.
  • Advice: Timing always beats speed.
  • Shoutouts: Elvis Gregory, Ryan Howell, Justin Meehan, Julio Diaz, and all the folks on the team.


SFC(Ret) Patricia "T" Dykes

  • Clubs: Agape Spirit Martial Arts, Lightning Swords Parafencing
  • Hometowns: Morristown, N.J. / Fort Collins, Colo.
  • Coaches: Julio Diaz and Mickey Zeljkovic
  • Instagram: @LightningSwordsParafencing
  • Fencing origin story: Started fencing foil at Morristown High School, Morristown, New Jersey in November 1978. Continued fencing while serving Active Duty United States Army Medical Corps (Airborne/Air Assault/Waterborne) for 15 years. Switched gears while studying Exercise and Sport Science/Adaptive Sports Physiology at UNC Greensboro and began researching fencing for multiple disability populations. Military injuries qualified me for Parafencing since September 2013!
  • Why I love fencing: Fencing is such a unique sport of body, mind, and spirit that it’s a wonderful positive addiction! My greatest love is breaking the barriers in disability sport to put a sword in the hands of many!
  • Advice: Regardless of your disabilities, pick up a sword and get busy! Walls are made to be demolished!
  • Shoutouts: My son Aaron for holding down the fort! My entire family and church families for cheerleading at a distance! Many coaches whose instruction has kept me sharp: Les, Gary, Julio, Mickey, Eric, Nelson, Dawn, Julie, Brandon, and Rudy! Countless surgeons and physicians who screw me back together! VA Sports 4 Vets Program, Operation Rebound/CAF and Move United Warfighter Ambassador Program for financial support, and the multitude of staff with USA Fencing!

CJ Fleck

  • Club: The Phoenix Center
  • Hometown: Mount Laurel, N.J.
  • Coach: Eric Soyka
  • Instagram: @fleck_cj
  • Fencing origin story: I was too small for high school soccer, but we had just started a fencing team and that sounded interesting. A lot of adventures later, I found parafencing. I wouldn't trade it for the world.
  • Why I love fencing: December will mark year 19 of fencing for me; I am not sure I am capable of doing anything else with my time. It is the only thing that makes sense.
  • Advice: There will be times when "fencing" as a life concept feels like it is over for you. In my experience, it is never over. There will always be more tournaments to go to, more practices to perfect, and more memories to make.
  • Shoutouts: My wife, Caitlin, for everything under the sun. My excellent teammates, for helping me realize my potential on and off the strip.

Ellen Geddes PLY

  • Club: Shepherd Swords
  • Hometown: Aiken, S.C.
  • Coach: Justin Meehan
  • Instagram: @ellen_wheelchairfencing
  • Fencing origin story: Dennis Aspy of Shepherd Swords asked me if I thought it would be fun to stab people when I happened upon one of their team practices while I was in inpatient for my SCI at Shepherd Center.
  • Why I love fencing: Fencing is both an easy sport to get started in and has a ton of room for growth. I was able to hit the ground running and start doing bouting right away, but even now many years later I still have a ton of things to learn and room to improve.
  • Advice: Be prepared to lose a lot!
  • Shoutouts: My parents (Anne and Jim Geddes), My best friend and business partner Helen Laffitte Hill, and my coach Justin Meehan.

Noah Hanssen

  • Fencing Club: UMD Club Fencing (University of Maryland, College Park)
  • Hometown: Ellicott City, Md.
  • Coach: Charles Greene
  • Instagram: @wheelyboywonder
  • Fencing origin story: I grew up watching Star Wars and loved playing with toy swords. That joy didn’t go away after becoming disabled, and eventually I found a historic fencing (HEMA) club that could accommodate me, then I found my parafencing coach.
  • Why I love fencing: I could write so many paragraphs about what makes fencing such a unique and engaging sport and why I love doing it so much, but put simply: it’s incredibly satisfying to swing swords at people.
  • Advice: Find fulfillment in the process of learning and improving, results will come with time but won’t always reflect the progress you’ve made.
  • Shoutouts: Thank you to UMD Club Fencing, Coach Charles, our Parafencing Staff, Maryland Kunst Des Fechtens, and my wonderful friends and family for supporting me.

Tori Isaacson

  • Fencing Clubs: The Phoenix Center, Poughkeepsie N.Y., and Rogue Fencing Academy, Woodbridge, Ct.
  • Hometown: Poughkeepsie, N.Y.
  • Coach: Eric Soyka
  • Instagram handle: @victoria.isaacson.usafencing
  • Fencing origin story: Growing up I did not have any real interest in sports. I grew up being around horses and it was all I really wanted to do. However, a friend in middle school started fencing and brought me to a practice one day. I was hooked. It was like I finally found a sport that worked for me and how I think. After my first lesson with Eric I turned to my mom and said, "All I want to do with my life is play with ponies and swords". While I also have other career pursuits, as an occupational therapist, a majority of my life still focuses around ponies and swords to this day, ten years later. Fencing has remained a constant in my life regardless of my health. I transitioned from able-bodied to wheelchair fencing and never gave up the sport.
  • Why I love fencing: Fencing has given me a huge community, family, career, and has helped mold me into the person I am today. The sport is adaptable and promotes creativity, allowing me to never be bored. I like that the hardest part of the sport is the internal battle you have with yourself. It has pushed me to become a smarter and more collected person.
  • Advice: Understanding how you process stress and your emotions will make you a better athlete. Don't sit in your frustration, learn from it and grow. Try to find the joy in every moment, even the boring ones. Being happy doing the boring repetitive tasks to build skills is what keeps you going and ultimately makes the difference between success and stagnation.
  • Shoutouts: It truly takes a community. A thank you to my family who helped fund the early stages of my career and supported me without fail, to my friends who are understanding when I cannot see them do to the sport but are still there for me, to Eric and the people in my corner from my fencing clubs who push me to be successful and never give up on me, and to the staff at Quinnipiac's OTD program who advocated for me to be able to pursue both a career and still hold onto my sports goals. Without all of you I do not know where I would be today.

Shelby Jensen PLY

  • Fencing Club: Valkyrie Fencing Club/Academy
  • Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Coaches: Brandon Smith, Julio Diaz, Julie Seal
  • Instagram: @shelby.jensen
  • Fencing origin story: I was volunteering for a wheelchair sports camp when I was 15. One of the sports there was wheelchair fencing. I sat down and tried it because I had never tried a sport like this before and I absolutely fell in love with it.
  • Why I love fencing: I joke with people and say I like to hit people with metal sticks. That is fun and all but, I really like the mental game that you can play with your opponents and also, I love the community. It is such a niche sport that the community is tight knit so everybody knows everybody basically.
  • Advice: This is such a cliche thing to say but never give up. Things will get hard but again never give up and just keep on pushing and doing your best.
  • Shoutouts: My family, Utah Fencing Foundation, and my husband.

Cory Moses

  • Fencing Club: Fencers Club
  • Hometown: New York City
  • Coaches: Alexey Cheremsky, Julio Diaz
  • Instagram handle: @parafencer
  • Fencing origin story: My fencing journey began with a childhood interest sparked by watching James Bond. However, it wasn’t until I became paralyzed at the age of 26 that I had the opportunity to try fencing, but from a wheelchair. Initially, I saw it as a way to stay active and adjust to my new life in a wheelchair. Fencing became a light in my life, offering a supportive community and a new passion.
  • Why I love fencing: I am passionate about fencing because it helped me navigate through dark times as I adjusted to my new life. It provided me with a supportive community and an extended support system, and opened my eyes to the world of adaptive sports and what’s possible after such a traumatic injury. Fencing gave me purpose and inspiration, and it continues to be an integral part of my life.
  • Advice: Embrace the journey of fencing, no matter where it takes you. Find your support system, whether it’s friends, family, coaches, or teammates, as they play a crucial role in your growth as a fencer and as a person. Let the challenges you face on the strip inspire you to push yourself beyond limits and become a stronger athlete. Enjoy every moment of the sport and cherish the connections you make along the way.
  • Shoutouts: Curtis McDowald and our Coach Alexey

Scott Rodgers PLY

  • Fencing Club: Denver Fencing Center
  • Hometown: Highlands Ranch, Colo.
  • Coach: Nathan Anderson
  • Instagram handle: @srodgers_ply
  • Fencing origin story: I originally got into fencing in undergrad after breaking my neck. A friend was president of the school fencing club. He kept inviting me out to try it. I finally went even though I could not do much with my feet, but thinking it would be good exercise to build core strength. It kind of took off from there.
  • Why I love fencing: It suits my nature, I am a problem solver. Every opponent is a different problem to solve. I enjoy the constant adjustments and chess game that goes on in each bout.
  • Advice: Have fun. Work hard. Practice, practice, practice. Learn from every bout, realizing the best have lost more than they ever won. Have fun.
  • Shoutouts: My wife, Marta. All the folks at the Denver Fencing Center who sit down and train with me. Coaches - Nathan, John, Haley, Conrad, Henri.

Joshua B. Russell

  • Fencing Club: Orion Fencing
  • Hometown: Mendenhall, Miss.
  • Coach: Justin Meehan
  • Fencing origin story: I started at Methodist Rehabilitation Center (MRC) in Jackson, MS when I was 16. At the time, I had never participated in any sport. While going to a doctor's appointment a worker at MRC mentioned the sports program, and I tried it out. I've been fencing ever since.
  • Why I love fencing: I enjoy it for the 'learning' process. Since it requires both physical and mental abilities, it's most rewarding in the middle of a bout when I can 'feel' the progress I have made.
  • Advice: Find that feedback loop/connection that makes it so that you connect the hard work with whatever it is you enjoy about the sport. Have the momentum to push through the hard/mundane parts.
  • Shoutouts: Lynn Bishop, Ginny Boydston, Justin Meehan, Ellen Geddes, My entire family.

Garrett Schoonover

  • Fencing Clubs: Valkyrie, Salt City Swords
  • Hometown: Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Coaches: Julie Seal, Brandon Smith, Julio Díaz
  • Fencing origin story: My colleague, Mason Hall, invited me to practice several times. He said “You were in the Army, you already know how to fight. Come put a Sword in your hand!” I went to one practice and I was hooked. Several months later I competed and medaled at my first NAC, and 6 months later I was in Poland for my first World Cup.
  • Why I love fencing: This sport is so different from any other I’ve done. It’s not enough to be a good athlete, or to be a smart athlete, there’s a degree of heart in this sport that must be present in order to succeed. Fortunately, the people I’ve met along the way in my fencing journey bring plenty of heart to the table, and they inspire me to bring that same fire every time I roll onto the piste.
  • Advice: Never underestimate the training you can do outside of work with a blade. Nutrition, athleticism, and strength - though not necessarily as integral in fencing as in other sports - will pay dividends. Always look for ways to fence with new and better fencers. Keep notes and video. In a sport where millimeters and a few hundredths of a second can mean the difference between a win and a loss - fine tuning/refining is constant. Video and notes will give you visual and anecdotal references to check in with and gauge your progress.
  • Shoutouts: Mason Hall - I wouldn’t be here without you, in more than one sense. Thank you! Brandon Smith - You fostered my early interests and taught me so much in such a short time. Thank you! Julie Seal - You challenge me and have helped me learn to refine my own practice and strategies. Bill Nikolai - You are the life force behind Utah Fencing Foundation. Without you, I wouldn’t have these opportunities. Thank you! Cortney Christiansen - You are my partner in life and I can never appropriately thank you for all that you do. I love you!

Jay Taylor

  • Fencing Club: Denver Fencing Center, Denver Fencing Center Foundation
  • Hometown: Aurora, Colo.
  • Coaches: Nathan Anderson, Haley Ward
  • Instagram: @mudrunnerx13
  • Fencing origin story: I accidentally stumbled on parafencing through my local veterans hospital recreation therapy program. I am thankful for this happy accident.
  • Why I love fencing: Wheelchair fencing is one of those sports that no matter how your disabilities are affecting you that day, you can still hop in the chair and be around friends. The best part is this sport is a team sport and individual.
  • Advice: Do not be afraid to fail, trying something new can be intimidating however, you have already failed if you refuse to even try it.
  • Shoutouts: Nathan Anderson, Haley Ward, Scott Rodgers, Denver Fencing Foundation.

Greg Tyler

  • Fencing Clubs: Orion, Invictus, Kern Athletic Fencing Foundation
  • Hometown: Mission Viejo, Calif.
  • Coaches: Bogdan Lev, Justin Meehan, Julio Diaz
  • Instagram: @gregorytylerig
  • Fencing origin story: During the COVID lockdown in 2020, my roommate and I bought starting kits on Amazon and started sparring in the front yard for fun.
  • Why I love fencing: It's high speed, fun, and safer than motorcycles.
  • Advice: Do enough matches that you've seen everything and nothing surprises you.
  • Shoutouts: I would like to thank my parents and coaches who have supported me along the way.

Team USA Roster by Weapon

Women's Epee

Category A

  • Jataya Taylor
  • Tori Isaacson
  • Shelby Jensen PLY


Category B

  • Ellen Geddes PLY


Men's Epee

Category A

  • Nico Badeaux
  • Garrett Schoonover
  • Cory Moses
  • CJ Fleck


Category B

  • Scott Rodgers PLY
  • Noah Hanssen
  • Joshua Russell


Women's Foil

Category A

  • Jataya Taylor
  • Tori Isaacson
  • Patricia “T” Dykes
  • Shelby Jensen PLY


Category B

  • Ellen Geddes PLY


Men's Foil

Category A

  • Byron Branch
  • Garrett Schoonover
  • Greg Tyler


Category B

  • Scott Rodgers PLY
  • Joshua Russell


Women's Saber

Category A

  • Shelby Jensen PLY
  • Patricia “T” Dykes


Men's Saber

Category A

  • Garrett Schoonover
  • Nico Badeaux
  • Greg Tyler
  • Cory Moses


Category B

  • Noah Hanssen

Competition Schedule, At a Glance

  • Tuesday, Oct. 3: Women’s Saber Individual, Men’s Foil Individual

  • Wednesday, Oct. 4: Women’s Saber Team, Men’s Foil Team

  • Thursday, Oct. 5: Women’s Epee Individual, Men’s Saber Individual

  • Friday, Oct. 6: Women’s Epee Team, Men’s Saber Team

  • Saturday, Oct. 7: Women’s Foil Individual, Men’s Epee Individual

  • Sunday, Oct. 8: Women’s Foil Team, Men’s Epee Team