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United States Fencing Coaches Association Announces Its 2022 Collegiate Award Winners

05/12/2022, 10:15am CDT
By Bryan Wendell

The awards for coaches and athletes were determined by a nationwide vote of USFCA-member fencing programs.


Ben Bratton competes at the Vancouver World Cup in February 2020. Bratton, now an assistant coach at New York University, is among the USFCA's 2022 Collegiate Awards winners. (Photo by Manky/#BizziTeam)

The United States Fencing Coaches Association, a group devoted to empowering and educating fencing coaches across the country, has announced the winners of its 2021-22 Collegiate Awards

While not part of USA Fencing, the USFCA partners with USA Fencing to support the development of our sport nationwide. They host clinics, offer professional development opportunities, and give fencing coaches the tools they need to prepare athletes for competition and life.

Another big part of the USFCA's initiatives: presenting both National Collegiate awards and Division III awards at the end of each school year. Awards are presented in both men's and women's fencing and across all three weapons: epee, foil and saber.

“The winners of this year's collegiate awards deserve special recognition for their outstanding fencing, coaching and leadership,” says Vinnie Bradford, USFCA’s executive director. “This group of award winners shines bright, and they reflect the quality of the entire collegiate fencing program from Division I through Division III. I applaud the winners this year and all of the collegiate programs across the nation.”

This year's recipients include the University of Notre Dame's Gia Kvaratskhelia, who received National Collegiate Coach of the Year honors on both the men's and the women's side after leading the Irish to a national title in 2022. Two Notre Dame athletes also received USFCA honors: Kaylin Hsieh (women's epee) and Amita Berthier (women's foil).

In Division III, Brandeis University's Jennie Salmon also doubled up in coach of the year honors. She was named Division III Coach of the Year for both the women's and men's teams after helping lead the Waltham, Mass.-based program to one of its best seasons in school history. The team's success included strong performances from Tony Escueta (men's saber) and Maggie Shealy (women's saber), both of whom also earned USFCA Collegiate Awards.

Elsewhere in Division III, New York University had a strong showing with a trio of awards, including for Ben Bratton (assistant coach of the year, men's team), Lauren Wunderlich (assistant coach of the year, women's team) and Ian Sanders (men's epee).

Two New Categories of Awards Introduced

This season saw the debut of a pair of new recognition awards from the USFCA. 

  • The Community Service Recognition Award honors collegiate members who demonstrated a strong commitment to serving their communities.
  • The Excellence in Communications Recognition Award spotlights members whose communications support or press coverage were especially strong.

See the full list of award winners below, and join us in applauding these outstanding fencers, coaches and teams.

National Collegiate Award Winners

Men's Team Award Winners

  • Coach of the Year: Gia Kvaratskhelia, University of Notre Dame
  • Assistant Coach of the Year: Kasia Dabrowa, Ohio State University
  • Epee Athlete of the Year: Ian Sanders, New York University
  • Foil Athlete of the Year: Ashton Daniel, Columbia University
  • Saber Athlete of the Year: Shawn Kim, University of California San Diego

Women's Team Award Winners

  • Coach of the Year: Gia Kvaratskhelia, University of Notre Dame
  • Assistant Coach of the Year: Dwight Smith, Long Island University
  • Epee Athlete of the Year: Kaylin Hsieh, University of Notre Dame
  • Foil Athlete of the Year: Amita Berthier, University of Notre Dame
  • Saber Athlete of the Year: Elizabeth Tartakovsky, Harvard University
  • Newcomer of the Year: Anna Novoseltseva, Temple University

Division III Award Winners

Men’s Team Award Winners

  • Coach of the Year: Jennie Salmon, Brandeis University
  • Assistant Coach of the Year: Ben Bratton, New York University
  • Epee Athlete of the Year: Ian Sanders, New York University
  • Foil Athlete of the Year: Michael DeSando, Drew University
  • Saber Athlete of the Year: Antonio Escueta III, Brandeis University
  • Newcomer of the Year: Antonio Escueta III, Brandeis University

Women’s Team Award Winners

  • Coach of the Year: Jennie Salmon, Brandeis University
  • Assistant Coach of the Year: Lauren Wunderlich, New York University
  • Epee Athlete of the Year: Amira Mutakabbir, Drew University
  • Foil Athlete of the Year: Bettina Coker, Lawrence University
  • Saber Athlete of the Year: Jia “Maggie” Shealy, Brandeis University
  • Newcomer of the Year: Tristan Luu, Denison University

Community Service Recognition Awards

  • Alexander Wicken, Brandeis University
    • Alex has been a visible and vocal advocate for transgender athletes and the LGBTQIA+ community at Brandeis and well beyond.
  • Northwestern University Fencing Team
    • Northwestern completed several community service projects to benefit local residents, most notably through a partnership with Girls Play Sports to introduce young women to a variety of sports.
  • Vassar Fencing Team
    • Vassar organized a blood drive, rallied bone marrow donors and hosted a tournament where all proceeds benefited a local charity. 

To read more about their impressive contributions, see the official release.

Excellence in Communications Recognition Awards

  • Nick Jallat of Vassar College
    • Nick, who serves as Vassar College's assistant director of athletic communications, wrote stories about the school's fencing team and even ran the bout committee for two events. 
  • University of California San Diego Communications Team
    • The student-led athletic communications team showcased the student-athlete experience in nontraditional ways, including video.

To read more about their impressive contributions, see the official release.

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