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Fifteen Members of the Fencing Community Selected for Leadership Academy

10/22/2021, 11:45am CDT
By Kristen Henneman

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is pleased to announce the 15 individuals selected for the Leadership Academy Class of 2022.

The second year of the program, the Leadership Academy is a 10-month program which provides educational and training opportunities to those interested in serving in leadership roles within the organization. 

This year’s class includes:

  • Ben Bratton (West Chester, Pa. / The Peter Westbrook Foundation)
  • Franco Cerutti (San Diego, Calif. / LionHeart Academy)
  • Eric Chen (Ellicott City, Md. / Guanyi Fencing Academy)
  • Maggie Dull (Rochester, N.Y.)
  • Alex Gioiella (Pontiac, Mich. / New York Athletic Club)
  • Abram Gregory (St. Louis, Mo. / The Phoenix Center)
  • Nicholas Harvey (Atlanta, Ga. / Nellya Fencers)
  • Margaret Lu (New York, N.Y. / New York Athletic Club)
  • Tasha Martin (Portland Ore, / Northwest Fencing Center)
  • Maggie Newell (Houston, Texas / Bayou City Fencing Academy)
  • Simon Pitfield (Davis, Calif. / Davis Fencing Academy)
  • Ty Simmons (Detroit, Mich.)
  • Jeremy Summers (Denver, Colo.)
  • Kathy Vail (Atlanta, Ga. / Dunwoody Fencing Club)
  • Charles Wemple (Houston, Texas / Bayou City Fencing Academy)

The Leadership Academy consists of 10 online courses, covering 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.

More information on each member of the 2022 Leadership Academy class is below:

Ben Bratton

One of the most decorated men’s epee fencers in the history of USA Fencing, Bratton made history in 2012 as the first African American fencer to win a World Championship title as a member of the U.S. Men's Epee Team that won gold at the World Team Championships – a first for any USA Men's Fencing Team. An eight-time Senior World Team member, Bratton also won team silver medal at the 2015 Pan-American Games and individual bronze medal at the 2017 Pan American Championships. In 2020, Bratton was named to the Team USA Council on Racial and Social Justice for the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee and currently serves as the men’s epee representative on the USA Fencing Athlete Advisory Council.

Franco Cerutti

A fencer his entire life, Cerutti has 30 years of coaching experience. In 2018, he was named the executive director and director of high performance for the Swiss Fencing Federation, attending the 2021 Olympic Games as the chef de mission and director of performance. From 2014-18, he was the director of youth performance as well as the national coach for the U23, U20 and U17 squads.

Eric Chen

Sixteen-year-old Chen has fenced for nearly seven years, switching to epee in 2017 after fencing three years of foil. In 2018, Chen co-founded Guanyi Fencing Academy – an epee club – with his coach. Beginning in 2018, Chen began to grow his competitive experience, competing on the regional and national level with the goal of being ranked in the top 16 in cadet before the end of the school year.

Maggie Dull

Dull began fencing in college, walking onto the varsity fencing team. After graduating in 2008, she was elected the Oregon Division secretary. Three years later when she moved to Baltimore, she ran local and regional tournaments for the Maryland Division and several clubs. She joined the National Bout Committee staff as a trainee in February 2013 and was promoted to Bout Committee chair in December 2014. Dull also participated in the successful launching of USA Fencing’s Super Junior and Cadet Circuit. Dull is a member of the Tournament Committee and the newly created Black Card Review Group, currently serving as its chair. Dull enjoys participating as a reader of the annual Absolute Fencing Gear All-American Team scholarship essays and is currently the division chair for the Western New York Division.

Alex Gioiella

Currently an able-bodied and parafencing referee on the North American Cup circuit, Certified Referee Instructor and coach, Gioiella started fencing in 2003. While she has been connected to the sport ever since, she became much more active in 2011, fencing as well as refereeing. When she’s not involved in the fencing community, she works as a Criminal Justice & Domestic Violence Advocate at Centro Multicultural La Familia.

Abram Gregory

Fencing since 2008, Gregory competed for Vassar College from 2017-21. Following the conclusion of his collegiate fencing career, Gregory began coaching at the Phoenix Center and Marx Fencing Academy. Recently hired as the head epee coach at St. Louis Fencing Center, Gregory looks to compete internationally and support the development of international caliber athletes as a coach.

Nicholas Harvey

Harvey has been fencing for eight years and has traveled internationally representing the United States at the cadet and junior level. He is involved in DEI initiatives at his high school, working to improve the experience of students of color in predominately white institutions. In addition, Harvey spoke on a panel on the Cyrus of Chaos YouTube Channel about the struggles of being a Black fencer with the hopes of improving the experience of Black athletes who follow him.

Margaret Lu

A successful fencer both nationally and internationally, Lu is a six-time Division I national champion. In 2018, she was a member of the historic U.S. women’s foil team that won gold at the Senior World Championships. Collegiately at Columbia University, Lu was a four-time individual Ivy League Champion and won the NCAA Championship. Off the strip, she is a member of USA Fencing's inaugural DEIB Resource Team, serving as one of the athlete representatives.  

Tasha Martin

Martin began fencing as a teenager and went on to fence in college and internationally, competing on the 1998 World Championship Team. While in college, she began refereeing and was one of the few female, competitive athletes refereeing while competing. As an involved referee, she has held many roles as a member of the foil assessment program and ombudsman committee as well as been a regional coordinator, assigner and member of the Directoire Technique for the Grand Prix events in the United States. In 2020, she was elected the chair of the Referees’ Commission.

Maggie Newell

Newell followed her son into the sport, fencing in her first foil competition in 2016. Shortly thereafter, she learned how to run tournaments and began running her local club events. After taking a step up to working regional events, she started volunteering at national events and went on to become a division officer as well as work on the National Bout Committee and IT staff. Newell even picked up another weapon over the years, adding saber to her repertoire.

Simon Pitfield

A collegiate fencer who was a regular on the North American Cup circuit, Pitfield founded Davis Fencing Academy upon graduating. Running the club and coaching ever since, David Academy won the USA Fencing Club of Excellence in Community Outreach in 2021. Pitfield is currently in the application process for building the Official Training Center for USA Pentathlon Multisport in Davis.

Ty Simmons

One of team USA’s top foil fencers in the 1970s, Ty Simmons was a member of the 1972 Olympic Team. The year prior, he won team gold at the Pan American Games. A Junior Olympic and U19 champion who fenced all three weapons, Simmons won the men’s foil NCAA Championship in 1971 and 1972. After his fencing career, Simmons entered the coaching world, serving as the head coach of the University of Detroit Mercy fencing teams from 1991-96.

Jeremy Summers

The Director of Sports Medicine for USA Fencing since 2015, Summers has been a part of the fencing community for 30 years. A former U.S. Senior and Junior Men’s Saber National Team member and alternate to the 2000 Olympic Games, Summers has served as the team doctor at both the 2016 and 2020 Olympic Games as well as more than 20 Senior World Championships, Pan American Championships, and Junior and Cadet World Championships. Summers has also been a member of the FIE Medical Commission since 2016 and has managed USA Fencing Sports Medicine at national events.

Kathy Vail

Involved with USA Fencing at nearly every level, Kathy Vail has been involved in fencing for more than 20 years. Vail is not only a parent in the sport, but the head coach and owner of Dunwoody Fencing Club. She co-founded the Georgia High School Fencing League as well as has served as chair of the Georgia Division and as a regional coordinator. In 2011, she was named Developmental Coach of the Year. Involved on the committee level as well, Vail was honored in 2019 with USA Fencing’s Outstanding Service Award in Youth Fencing.

Charles Wemple

A passionate supporter of the sport, Wemple picked up fencing four years ago, competing in foil. He has competed in the veteran category and has participated in local, regional and national competitions. He also has held multiple officer positions in the Gulf Coast Division, currently serving as the treasurer after serving as the vice chair for two years.

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