Do you know someone in the fencing community who exemplifies the true meaning of sport? We want to share their story with the fencing community.
The Spirit of Sport program strives to recognize the incredible individuals making a positive impact on the fencing community. Each quarter, USA Fencing selects one winner from each region who exemplifies each of the five USA Fencing core values:
Please note, this award program does not take an individual's fencing results into consideration. While they may be included, Spirit of Sport focuses on the ideals that define the sport of fencing, including commitment, dedication, sportsmanship and character. Winners may be anyone from the fencing community, from fencers to coaches to armorers to volunteers. The only requirement is the nominee must be a current member of USA Fencing.
2022-23 Spirit of Sport Program
Quarter 1 - CLOSED
8/1/2022 - 10/31/2022
Quarter 2 - CLOSED
11/1/2022 - 01/30/2023
Quarter 3 - CLOSED
02/01/2023 - 04/30/2023
Quarter 4 - Now Open - Click here to nominate
2022-2023 Season Q1 Winners
Omar Heriba - Central FL (Orlando Fencing Club)
Omar Heriba is committed to recreational fencing in our area. He is often the first one to set up or break down equipment if needed. Omar always welcomes new fencers warmly regardless of age or ability and humbly gives pointers to fencers less experienced than himself. I'm a newby vet fencer and he has given me pointers when fencing him during open bouting. While not a member of the same club, our family of four (with varying degrees of ability) often fence open at his home club. He was very friendly to us at the beginning and always makes other newcomers feel comfortable. He regularly arrives before other fencers to set up scoring machines for open sessions at Orlando Fencing Club which meets twice weekly at a local community center.
Ned Kalapasev - Kentucky (Northern Kentucky Fencing Academy (NKFA))
Ned is focused on being a gracious, engaging, and active host and mentor to many fencers wishing the sport. He truly loves what he does and shares that love with other fencers in his club, the division, and community.
Ned hosts charitable tournaments every year to raise money and awareness for Barth Syndrome (Mitochondrial Disorder), of which Ned’s son, Milosh, also suffers. Milosh has had 2 heart transplants due to Barth Syndrome and during these times, family must stay within 15 minutes of the local Children's Hospital.
Ned is currently losing his family home of 50 years to Eminent Domain (as part of the Brent Spence Bridge Corridor) and they are on limited time to find their next house. Even during this hardship, Ned has continued to host his scheduled fencing tournaments, and foster the growth of his students at the Northern Kentucky Fencing Academy.
Through the years, even with all of these personal hardships, Ned has continued to be a pillar of the fencing community by providing leadership, guidance, and as an example of determination for all fencers.
Julie Seal - UT/Southern ID (Valkyrie Fencing Club)
Julie has been a defining force in the Utah Southern Idaho Division for decades. She Just competed in the Veteran World Fencing Championships And returned the most decorated fencer in the competition and became the Veteran's 50 Women's Sabre Champion, a Silver in Team Women's Foil and Bronze in Team Women's Sabre.
Julie in the two years became a Fencing Master in Foil and Sabre. She is the owner of Valkyrie Fencing Club and has served the community in Utah through her club for the past 25 years. Her students have earned nationally 26 National Gold Medals (Not including her nearly 100 National Medals), 21 Silver National Medals, $3 Bronze National Medals, 2 International Gold,3 International Bronze.
Her club has served those in the community with special needs, autism and handicapped.
She works daily for the benefit of her fencers and the community. She leads by example and helps her students to reach beyond their realized potentials.
Her career has been the example of service and performance.
Jamie Willemse - Oregon (PDX Fencing)
Competing in the sport of fencing takes grit, determination, and focus. Its challenging for everyone, but image what it must be like to return to competition after being shot and sustaining life threatening injuries. Yet, this is exactly what saber fencer Jamie Willemse did.
This Vet50 C-ranked woman saberist was critically injured after being caught in a gang-related gun battle on an Atlanta street shortly after the completion of the August 2021 US Fencing Veterans National Championships. Jamie and fellow fencer Cheryl Maslen were returning to their hotel after a dinner celebrating Jamie’s 3rd place win when Jamie was struck by a stray bullet. As a result of her extensive injuries Jamie endured multiple surgeries and spent three weeks in an Atlanta hospital, then an additional week in a hospital back in Oregon.
But despite this life-changing event, Jamie was determined to return to fencing, especially after the fencing community came together once learning that a fellow fencer was critically injured. Jamie’ spirits were buoyed by all the cards, well wishes, kind messages, and donations from fencers and total strangers. She fought through many setbacks and made a triumphant return to competition at the Oregon ROC on April 2, 2022, only 8 months after the August 28, 2021 shooting. Not only did Jamie return to competition, but she took the gold medal for Vet Women’s Saber that day.
In addition to returning to fencing, Jamie has resumed her role as a fitness trainer on the PDX Fencing Club coaching staff. “Jamie’s passion, team spirit and leadership to our youth fencers helped fuel her determination to work hard at recovering. She is a very important part of our mentoring program and she sets a high standard by example. She has shown after what could have been a catastrophic event, how to fight, get up, and work hard to achieve your goals” says Charles Randall, head coach at PDX Fencing. “Jamie is still in the recovery process and her spirit of sport is undeniable. All our athletes and families are inspired by her passion to help when she can, and to get better physically and in her fencing” says Claire Randall, program manager.
And almost one year later, Jamie once again stood on the fencing strip at the July 2022 Summer Nationals Women’s Veterans saber events in Minneapolis.