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A Lasting Legacy: Nzingha Prescod Honors Buckie Leach with Youth Fencing Tournament

03/21/2023, 8:45am CDT
By Bryan Wendell

This April, to honor Leach’s memory, Prescod will host the Buckie Leach RYC & Non-Regional Y8, named after her beloved coach who died in 2021.

Buckie Leach started training Nzingha Prescod OLY when she was 10. (Photo courtesy of Nzingha Prescod)

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — How do you honor the man who played such a transformative role in the lives of countless fencers — from a young fencer holding a foil for the first time to an Olympic champion?

For Nzingha Prescod OLY, a two-time Olympian in women’s foil, only one type of tribute would live up to the legacy of Buckie Leach: a youth fencing tournament.

The fencing world lost a legend when Leach, the Team USA women's foil national coach and a 2013 inductee into the USA Fencing Hall of Fame, died in a motorcycle accident in August 2021. His tragic death came just 20 days after Leach watched Lee Kiefer OLY win Team USA’s first Olympic title in women’s foil.

Nearly two years later, memories of Leach are stronger than ever. And this April, to honor Leach’s memory, Prescod will host a Regional Youth Circuit (RYC) event named for her beloved coach. The Buckie Leach RYC & Non-Regional Y8 will take place at New Jersey City University from April 29-30 and is open to Y8, Y10, Y12 and Y14 fencers.

For Prescod, the impact Leach had on her life extended beyond the strip. 

"Buckie knew me better than most people, and we were very close," she says. "Buckie challenged me in my early years and taught me what hard work and commitment means — how to be self-reliant, how to prepare to be the best, how to be capable, the importance of enthusiasm and managing your time. We were a great duo."

Prescod says she admired Leach's classical instruction and technical mind. She admired them so much, in fact, that she carries his teachings forward at her fencing academy, PISTE, which is a nonprofit organization that doesn’t charge families for lessons, classes or programming.

"Almost every practice, our coaching team is saying, 'Well, Buckie did it this way,’ or 'Buckie liked it like this,’” Prescod says. “He has a heavy influence on the program, and we're grateful that we were able to absorb his talents, his philosophies, his passion and his skill to now pass it on to the community where I grew up."

And now she’ll pass along the proceeds from the Buckie Leach RYC to support PISTE as well.

"I want to thank Buckie and make sure he is always present in spirit,” Prescod says. “I think all of us would appreciate that. Our club's ethos is heavily centered around Buckie's character values and style of fencing."

The tournament specifically caters to youth fencers, and Prescod believes that’s the perfect way to honor Leach's passion for teaching fencing to young athletes. 

"Buckie taught me the game of fencing — all the creative, technical and strategic elements to be successful,” she says. “He was phenomenal at developing great fencers and had such a passion for teaching fencing. I think it's fitting to keep him attached to this great opportunity for the youth community to gather and test their skill, pushing each other to become their best."

As for how Leach would feel about the tournament being named after him, Prescod believes he might deflect the attention but would ultimately appreciate the sentiment.

“The RYC will be a moment to bring together many of the people he has touched so that we can maintain our community,” Prescod says. “That's the best part. Coming together to acknowledge and recognize Buckie for all he has done for each of us."

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