(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is pleased to announce the selection of 12 members of the inaugural Leadership Academy.
These members from represent different facets of the USA Fencing community, including volunteers, current and former able-bodied and parafencing National Team members, coaches, referees, veteran fencers, parents and more.
Nearly 70 individuals applied for acceptance in the first academy class in which members will participate in 10 sessions on topics such as governance, history and organizational structure of USA Fencing and other sports governing bodies, finance, domestic and international events, youth programming, international programs and more.
Upon completion of the program, the Leadership Academy class will graduate at Summer Nationals in July.
Applications for the 2021-22 session of the Leadership Academy will be made available this summer.
2021 Leadership Academy class members are as follows:
Valerie Asher (Bethesda, Md.) began her fencing career at Yale, where she earned an undergraduate degree in English and went on to earn her doctorate at the Yale School of Medicine. After a 16-year hiatus, she returned to the sport in the early 2000s and became involved not only as a fencer, but also as a division officer for the Capitol Division as well as an organizer of the Amazon Open tournament for women’s fencers. She also helped implement one of the first-ever grant programs within a division to provide funding to fencers competing internationally. A bronze medalist at the 2012 Veteran World Championships, Asher has qualified for seven Vet World Teams and has served on both Veteran and Sports Medicine Resource Teams for USA Fencing.
A former referee on the World Cup circuit and two-time Junior National Team Champion in Spain, Juan Ignacio Calderon (San Diego, Calif.) transitioned to coaching and now serves as the head coach for the University of California San Diego. Under his leadership, during the last two seasons, UCSD has had five fencers qualify for the NCAA Championships. Calderon founded the Global Fencing Network in 2016 and the non-profit now includes 200 clubs from 40 nations. Calderon, who is actively seeking to expand NCAA fencing in the western region, was recently named commissioner of the Western Fencing Conference. He also has served as chairman of the San Diego Division of USA Fencing for the last two years.
A retired sergeant first class in the U.S. Army, Patricia Dykes (Port Orange, Fla.) began competing as an able-bodied fencier at Morristown High School in 1978 and later started parafencing following injuries sustained during her military service. Dykes, who earned a Bachelor’s degree in exercise and sport science with an emphasis in adaptive sports physiology from the University of North Carolina Greensboro, has represented Team USA at the 2017 and 2019 Wheelchair World Championships and is aiming to compete at the Paralympic Games. Dykes also is an adaptive fencing coach at Sword Masters Club and the founder of Lightning Swords Parafencing.
Nicholas Going (Tucson, Ariz.) became one of the youngest USA Fencing club owners in the nation when he founded Still Point Fencing as a 27 year old. A graduate of the University of Arizona with a Bachelor’s degree in cinematography, Going is a digital content specialist for the Town of Oro Valley and also serves as the head foil coach for the Arizona State Fencing Club and has previously served as an officer for the Arizona Division. Going also has been involved with the USA Parafencing Team as a volunteer coach during training camps at the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Training Center.
The youngest member of the 2021 Leadership Academy, 16-year-old Michaela Joyce (Sterling) qualified for both the 2020 Junior and Cadet World Championship Teams prior to the cancellation of the event due to COVID-19. A high school junior, Joyce is actively involved in the USA Fencing Virginia Division as a member of the division’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. Joyce, a gold medalist in both the individual and team events at the 2020 Junior Pan American Championships, is aiming to help grow the sport of fencing through workshops, social media and word of mouth.
Although she did not begin fencing until her 20s after coming upon the sport for the first time in Columbus, Ohio, Selina Kaing (Cupertino, Calif.) has not only developed a love of the sport, but actively seeks out ways to generate interest from those who have never seen fencing. After moving to California to work at Google, Kaing partnered with local clubs to offer free introductory classes to Google staff as part of the company’s GFit program. Now the head of category management, enterprise technology services and global procurement for Google, Kaing continues to both fence and volunteer her time at local Bay Cup tournaments as well as national events held in the Bay Area. A graduate of Harvard with a Bachelor’s degree in English literature, Kaing earned her MBA at Oxford.
A member of the U.S. Olympic Men’s Saber Team that placed fourth at the 2004 Olympic Games, Ivan Lee (Brooklyn, N.Y.) retired from the sport in 2008 and began a career with the New York City Police Department where he has served for the last 12 years. A two-time NCAA Champion for St. John’s, Lee became one of only four Black head NCAA fencing coaches in the United States when he began his role with the Long Island University Women’s Fencing Team. Lee is a Level 2 saber referee who also serves as the fencing commissioner for the Public Schools Athletic League.
Now the head coach for the men’s and women’s fencing teams at Brandeis University, Salmon has been actively involved with USA Fencing’s Youth Development Resource Team for more than a decade as well as a member of several task forces and working groups, including the Tournament Summit Working Team, the Tournament Oversight Committee and the Athlete Handbook Revision Group. A co-owner of Mission Fencing Center, Salmon also serves as the vice chair of the Long Island Division. Prior to accepting her role at Brandeis in 2019, Salmon was the head coach for the Ward Melville High School Girls Fencing Team. Salmon was a two-time All-American for Temple University and helped lead the Owls to the team’s first-ever NCAA Championship title in 1992.
A two-time Junior World Team member, Lewis Weiss (Houston, Texas) earned All-American honors during all four years at Ohio State University, including third-place finishes at the NCAA Championships in both 2015 and 2016. During his career at Ohio State, Weiss became a four-time OSU Scholar Athlete and received the B1G 10 Sportsmanship Award in both 2015 and 2017. After graduation in 2018, Weiss returned to his home club, Alliance Fencing Academy, where he is helping to train future generations of epee fencers.
A two-time Junior World Team Champion, David Willette (New York City, N.Y.) served as an alternate to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team. Willette travelled to Rio de Janeiro as a training partner for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Men’s Foil Team and was presented with an Order of Ikos medal for his contributions to the Team USA’s’ success after the squad’s bronze medal win. Willette also fenced for Penn State, earning First-Team All-American honors all four years and graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in finance. Willette currently works as a marketing solutions manager for PEI – Alternative Insight.
In her role as the squad manager for the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Foil Teams for the last decade, Jennifer Yamin (Butler, N.J.) has been responsible for logistical planning for the Senior, Junior and Cadet National Teams as well as referee travel logistics and coordination of coaches, elite fencers and their families. Yamin also has served as the team manager for multiple Junior and Senior World Championship Teams and has worked with USA Fencing as an international protocol manager, serving an instrumental role in the hosting of Grand Prix and World Cup events.
A member of the 2013 World University Games Team, Zeiss had an outstanding career at Notre Dame, earning All-American honors all four years and helping the Fighting Irish win two NCAA Team Championship titles. Named a team captain during both her junior and senior seasons, Zeiss also was a two-time Rosenthal Leadership Academy Participant. After graduation, Zeiss earned her MBA from Western Governors University and worked in both digital media and sales roles for Notre Dame before returning to Southern California to accept a staff position with the Los Angeles Chargers where she is a premium sales consultant for Legends Hospitality at the SoFi Stadium.
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