With over 40 years of fencing experience, Viveka Fox is is a two-time Vet World Team member and referee, as well as the head coach of Vermont Fencing Alliance. She also founded the Green Mountain Division.
How did you get started in fencing and what made you want to coach fencing?
I was introduced to fencing at summer camp in 1974, at age 12. Through most of my middle and high school years, I was the only junior fencer in the Western PA division. My mentors, clubmates and competitors were all adults or college students. Being accepted into the fencing community as an equal, and not treated like a kid, was a formative experience for me.
In high school, I discovered I could get gym credit if I volunteered to teach a fencing unit, and I enjoyed it. I moved to Vermont in 1990 and started the Vermont Fencing Alliance in 1992 when some students at the high school where I taught asked if I would teach them. I like the idea of being part of a long chain of knowledge transmitted generation to generation. While there are books and videos about how to fence, the best way to learn is still from a person who learned from a person before them.
How do you measure success in the fencers you coach?
My goal is to instill a lifelong love of the sport. I want all my students to see themselves as athletes, regardless of age, gender, innate talent (or lack thereof), body type, affluence (or lack thereof), and all the messages that tell us that sports are for elite athletes and the rest of us should just watch. With that in mind, a successful student in my club:
What are the qualities of a good coach?
I imagine we all think a "good coach" is either the best one we had ourselves, or the ideal one we wished we had had. So for me:
What, if any, are the differences when coaching a beginner vs. an intermediate or high level athlete?
The analogy I use with my students is that it's like learning a foreign language. The beginner is learning vocabulary, the intermediate student puts words into sentences, and the advanced student engages in conversation with someone else.
Date Created: February 2020