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USA Fencing Selects Fourth Quarter Fencing Spirit of Sport Recipients

05/22/2019, 12:15pm CDT
By Kristen Henneman

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is pleased to announce the 2018-19 season’s fourth group of recipients for the Fencing Spirit of Sport Recognition Program, recognizing six members of the fencing community who have exemplified outstanding dedication to the sport and are an inspiration to others.

Each quarter, one recipient from each region is chosen based on commitment and dedication to the sport as well as his or her club, respect, teamwork, inclusion, passion, sportsmanship and character.

The six recipients for the fourth quarter’s Fencing Spirit of Sport Award are as follows:

  • Jisun Kim (Sammamish, Wash.)
  • Jared Felker (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
  • Maia Weintraub (Philadelphia, Pa.)
  • Spencer Burke (El Cajon, Calif.)
  • Amelia Toffelmire (Houston, Texas)
  • Walter Green (Glen Allen, Va.)

All selections will receive a USA Fencing Spirit of Sport t-shirt and bag tag.

In addition, beginning in the 2018-19 season, USA Fencing will honor one annual Fencing Spirit of Sport winner. In the coming weeks, a selection committee will name the top selection in each region from the pool of 24 winners named throughout the season. The fencing community will then select the winner from the final six in an online vote available to the entire USA Fencing membership June 3-9.

The overall winner will receive a plaque and will be honored at the 2019 USA Fencing National Championships and July Challenge in Columbus, Ohio.

More information on each of our winners can be found below:

Jisun Kim (right)

Region 1: Jisun Kim (Sammamish, Wash.)
Club: Metro Tacoma Fencing Club
Age: 42
Weapon: Épée
Number of Years Fencing: 20
Nominated By: Sonali Tikekar (Coach)

As a coach, Jisun Kim teaches so much more than the technique required for the sport of fencing, also stressing the morals of the sport, including compassion, bravery and sportsmanship. She challenges her students, teaches them responsibility and always encourages her fencers to give 100 percent while ensuring they have fun. A coach who genuinely cares about her students like they’re her own, Kim’s passion for the sport is infectious and she is an example to her students about working hard and always trying your best. Win or lose, she is ready with a high five and works on improvement rather than letting them get down on themselves.

“Coach Jisun Kim is the most dedicated coach we have ever met.” Tikekar said. “She teaches her ‘kids’ how to walk around with your head held high but your feet firm on the ground. She is only coach who walks up to the child when they lose and says, ‘I am sorry. Maybe I didn’t work on the right stuff. Don’t worry we will go back and do more.’”

Jared Felker

Region 2: Jared Felker (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Club: Grand Rapids Advanced Fencing Academy
Age: 18
Weapon: Épée
Number of Years Fencing: Six
Nominated By: Michelle Felker (Parent)

Known for his passion for fencing, Jared Felker has stayed with the sport even when he lacked competition at the club, working hard at home, endurance training and competing at any tournament he could. He also often traveled several hours to Chicago to practice on Fridays and Saturdays. When he was 15, he set a goal to become rated No. 16 in the nation in cadet, writing it out and positing it on the fridge to see every day. With hard work and dedication, Felker accomplished the goal and earned his opportunity to represent Team USA. On the strip, he is courteous and respectful to both referees and opponents. He enjoys being part of a team and has shown his leadership in helping develop the younger fencers at his club by teaching classes.

“Jared has great passion for this sport and will be attending Cleveland State University in the fall for a very simple reason. He wants to continue to fence. Fence on a NCAA Division I team,” Michelle Felker said. “He is so excited to be part of a team where he can excel with others who love the sport as much as he does.”

Maia Weintraub Photo Credit: Simone Ferraro/BizziTeam

Region 3: Maia Weintraub (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Club: Fencers Club and Fencing Academy of Philadelphia
Age: 16
Weapon: Foil
Number of Years Fencing: Eight
Nominated By: Jason Weintraub (Parent)

When Weintraub broke her leg at the beginning of the season, she worked relentlessly to recover, returning to competition after six weeks. After winning cadet gold at the October NAC and starting to return to full strength, Weintraub faced another setback, spraining her ankle months before the Cadet World Team would be named. As a fierce competitor, Weintraub continued to persevere, determined to come back again. Rising to the challenge to clinch a place on the team, Weintraub has been an example to many of the younger foilists she trains with and has supported her teammates throughout the season, even as she struggled.

“To start the season with a broken leg and to end with winning her first U.S. Division I national championship title in April 2019 was a remarkable journey, and one that required extremely hard work, mental fortitude and an undying passion for training and competing even when ‘the chips are down,’” Jason Weintraub said.

Spencer Burke

Region 4: Spencer Burke (El Cajon, Calif.)
: LionHeart Fencing Academy
Age: 14
Weapons: Épée and foil
Number of Years Fencing: Seven
Nominated By: Stuart Lee (Coach) and Daryl-Lynn Burke (Parent)

With a love for the sport and competing that his coach calls unequaled in the history of his club, Burke takes four classes and three lessons a week, competing as much as he can. Last season when he separated a growth plate in his right wrist, he continued to attend class regularly and switched to competing left handed. But it is probably Burke’s attitude off the strip that shines brightest to those around him. He assists with the younger kids’ classes and was the only fencer his age willing to fence with the wheelchair fencers. While it took over a year for him to win his first competitive bout, Burke immediately started making friends. He is always willing to help his teammates or strip coach a friend from another club, even after he has been eliminated.

“While it's common for children to make friends easily, I've never seen THIS level of affability and friendliness from a competitor of Spencer's focus," Lee said. "To this day I am amazed at his ability to engage and appeal to fellow fencers, referees and even the parents of other competitors.  It’s a part of his spirit that makes him special; there are many athletes with a great desire to win, but for Spencer fencing will always be a conduit to friendship.”

Amelia Toffelmire

Region 5: Amelia Toffelmire (Houston, Texas)
: Houston Sword Sports
Age: 15
Weapon: Épée
Number of Years Fencing: Six
Nominated By: Michele Toffelmire (Parent)

Spreading awareness for the sport of fencing, Toffelmire volunteers her time at local festivals to promote the sport and brings classmates to the club to learn fencing. She is always willing to help the younger fencers at the club and shows excellent sportsmanship at tournaments, offering a body cord her opponent if needed. This season, Toffelmire increased her number of roles in the sport, becoming a USA Fencing referee, which has increased her respect for the sport as she has refereed epee and foil at local school tournaments.

“[Amelia] embodies the character of what we all hope to see as a fencer and a young athlete,” Michele Toffelmire said. “There is no better person to bring a smile to anyone on or off the strip.”

Walter Green

Region 6: Walter Green (Glen Allen, Va.)
Club: Salle Green
Age: 71
Weapon: Épée and Saber
Number of Years Fencing: 50+
Nominated By: Dede Deane (Student)

Walter Green has worn just about every hat available in the sport of fencing. A fencer for more than half a century, Green has given back to the sport as a referee, coach and chair of the Virginia Division and the Mid-Atlantic Section. With the United States Coaches Association, he served as treasurer, a head examiner for the certification of coaches, chair of the Club Committee and lead author of the USFCA National Training Program. Through the years, Green has advocated fencing as a sport for all, regardless of experience, age or disability, creating an environment of respect. He helps all fencers work together and support each other while also pushing each other to reach the best of their abilities. Green is passionate about all aspects of the sport, including its history and values, emphasizing being a good person in addition to a good athlete.

“Through a lifetime of service, Walter Green truly models the spirit of fencing,” Deane said. “[He] epitomizes the lifelong fencer.”

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