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USA Fencing Creates Sports Performance Resource Team

09/25/2014, 7:15pm CDT
By Nicole Jomantas

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is pleased to announce the creation of a new Sports Performance Resource Team that will work with the USA Fencing National Office Sports Performance Department to provide guidance in recommendations in areas relating to athletes, coaches and referees.

"The Sports Performance Resource Team is a valuable addition to the USA Fencing Team. A key part of USA Fencing’s mission is to sustain international competitive excellence and the individuals who have been selected to work on this resource team are representatives from different areas within this sport who have great ideas and have generously agreed to help work to make our teams at all levels – from cadet and junior to Olympic – the best in the world,” said USA Fencing Executive Director Kris Ekeren (Littleton, Colo.) “I look forward to the National Office, national coaches, squad managers and outstanding members of the SPRT working together to provide our athletes with the best support available.”

The SPRT, which was endorsed by the Board of Directors during the Annual Meeting on Sept. 14, includes six representatives of the USA Fencing community as well as a U.S. Olympic Committee representative:

  • Keeth Smart (Brooklyn, N.Y.), 2008 Olympic silver medalist
  • Maya Lawrence (Teaneck, N.J.), 2012 Olympic bronze medalist
  • Sam Cheris (Aurora, Colo.), Fencing Officials Commission chair
  • Iana Dakova (Pittsburgh, Pa.), FIE Arbitrage Commission member
  • Buckie Leach (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.), three-time Olympic Coach
  • Jeremy Summers (Huntington Beach, Calif.), Sports Medicine Task Force chair and 1997 Senior World Team member
  • Ron Brant (Colorado Springs, Colo.), U.S. Olympic Committee High Performance Director

The SPRT will work with the Sports Performance staff, national team coaches and squad managers to provide guidance in areas that include team selection at all levels; selection of cadre for major international events; planning for key international events such as the Olympic Games and World Championships; and the possibility of hosting of international events in the United States.

“As an elite competitor, I saw how challenging it was to reach the top of the food chain. I kind of took the road less traveled compared to my peers and I’m hoping to share my experiences to help others reach the next level,” said Smart who became the first U.S. athlete to reach No. 1 in the world in 2003. “I want to jump in, get my hands dirty and figure out what's working and isn't. There’s always room for improvement and that's exciting. My long-term goal is to make USA Fencing the No. 1 fencing country in world. We have the talent, coaches, resources and the National Office staff. Now we need to see how we can leverage best practices to pull together and become best nation in the world. I love fencing. It’s been great to me and my family and I want other fencers to feel the same way.”

In addition to Smart, Lawrence will be serving as an athlete on the resource team. Lawrence fenced on the elite level for more than a decade and made history as part of the first U.S. Women’s Epee Team ever to win an Olympic medal.

I'm truly honored to be a member of the Sports Performance Resource Team. As a fencer who lived and trained extensively abroad, I hope my unique perspective will provide the USA Fencing staff with guidance during this crucial point in the quadrennium. After being a competitor for so many years, I'm ecstatic to give back to the sport by serving on this committee,” Lawrence said. “The wonderful thing about the SPRT is that it's made up individuals from diverse backgrounds who have played various roles in the sport over the years. I believe that together we will be able to offer excellent advice. Our goal is to improve sports performance and help field a U.S. team that succeeds not only at the 2016 Olympic Games, but for years to come.” 

The Sports Performance Resource Team will work directly with USA Fencing Sports Performance Director Kate Reisinger (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and her staff in the National Office.

“I’m excited to work with the Sports Resource Team as we prepare for a successful Olympic Games in Rio as well as the upcoming Senior, Junior and Cadet World Championships next year,” Reisinger said. “The resource team members all have had success in the highest levels of sport and I think this collaboration will help our athletes reach new heights in the near future.”

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