Coach Kristiyan Hristov was a National Champion in Bulgaria in saber and claimed individual and team gold medals as a cadet, junior and senior fencer, competing at four Junior and Cadet World Championships and more than 30 World Cups.
In 2009, Hristov and his wife, coach Tsvetelina (Tsetsi) Hristov, who was the first ever Bulgarian National Champion in saber and has more than 10 years of competitive experience, opened Premier Fencing Academy in Sacramento California, specializing in saber fencing.
You have an interesting story on how you and your wife met. Can you share?
Fencing brought us together back in 2001 traveling to Paris for a Junior World Cup. We had a three-day train ride each way from Bulgaria to France. So we had plenty of time to get to know each other. You can check our YouTube channel more detailed story about how we met.
Please take us through the steps you took in opening Premier Fencing Academy.
Coming to the United States, we were competitors first and then we wanted to get into coaching. We started the club with couple of students we coached at the time. My father (Hristo Hristov) helped us buy gear for classes and we started to train more beginners. I had to work at an office job full time so we could support ourselves in the beginning. It wasn’t easy but we made it happen.
Why do you think your club is so successful, both from a competitive standpoint and from a general member satisfaction side?
Our philosophy is that we as coaches have to guide our students to perform their best on and off the strip. We had a lot of struggles as competitive fencers growing up and we do our best to make sure that our fencers have the best experience and environment they can get. We treat everybody the same way, whether you are a World medalist or a recreational fencer. We grow every day, we never stop learning and we constantly work towards improvement.
Are there differences you see in the coaching styles and philosophies in the U.S. versus Bulgaria?
That is an interesting topic. I learned a lot about coaching from my dad. He competed, coached and refereed at the Olympic Games, so he has unlimited experience. It is an interesting situation when older generation and new generation of coaches work together through the evolution of fencing. Our family is able to work through creative ways to stay present and as competitive as possible. In the moment, the vision and creativity in the U.S. and Bulgaria are very similar. We keep in touch with the Bulgarian National Coach, Ivo, and we exchange ideas from time to time. He made a big difference in Bulgaria when nobody thought he would. Attention to detail is key. He has big goals and so do we. We motivate each other to deliver more to the sport every day.
You use social media very creatively and often go beyond using it just for general information. Can you share your philosophy on this type of member engagement?
We want to show the cool side of our sport through creativity, because we don’t think it gets the attention it needs. We do love fencing and we want to feature it every way we can. It’s one of the greatest sports that everyone has to experience. We do want to bring awareness of fencing as much as we can throughout the Sacramento area and to the world in general.
Date Created: February 2021