This month is the 50th anniversary of Title IX! Much has changed for women in athletics since 1973. Who stood out during the 2021-2022 collegiate fencing season? The NCAA fencing format, which awards the overall national championship only to co-ed teams, has recently sparked controversy within the NCAA about gender equity. We are highlighting the women making coaching headlines.
THE GOAT: Coach Nikki Franke
Temple University’s head coach Dr. Nikki Franke remains the legend among legends in the NCAA fencing world. After 50 years as the Director of Fencing and women's foil coach, her career record now stands at 898-277. She is the first, and still only, Black woman coach in NCAA fencing. Spotlighted nationally in NBC News’ Title IX reflections recently, Coach Franke remains humble and strong in her role.
Nikki Franke celebrating with her team 50 years of service. Photo: Zamani Feeling
Coach Franke has also led the way for many other NCAA women coaches including Christine Griffith, Jennie Salmon, Fatima Largaespada and Franke’s current assistant coach, Tasia Ford.
“If you are going to live, leave a legacy, make a mark on the world that can’t be erased.” –Maya Angelou
BIG RED STRONG - Coaches Ariana Klinkov and Susan Jennings
This team came out competing relentlessly and never let up. Cornell finished as the top-ranking women’s-only team at the 2022 national championships. In other words: if a women’s-only team could hold a NCAA Championship title, Cornell would have won the title this season. Kudos to Head Coach Ariana Klinkov and Associate Head Coach Susan Jennings.
Photo: Eldon Lisdsay / Cornell Athletics
THE GAVEL EFFECT - Coach Jennie Salmon
No one can deny Coach Jennie has taken this Division III Brandeis team and raised its recruiting status. Coach Salmon took over the head coach of Brandeis fencing in July of 2018 after 22 years of successful club and high school coaching, as well as experience with USA Fencing. Her recent acknowledgement by the United States Fencing Coaches Association is well-deserved.
Image from: https://www.brandeisjudges.com/sports/mfencing/index
HOWDY PILGRIM - Coach Daria Schneider
Coach Schneider made some bold hiring moves, by hiring not one, but two Olympians in order to build her team. Her choices paid off. Harvard placed second in the NCAA Championships this season while fielding only an 11-member team. This is Coach Schneider’s third season as head coach.
Photo from Go Crimson.
Go DUCKS! - Coach Linda Vollkommer
Linda Vollkommer has been leading at Stevens Institute of Technology since 1976 in more than just the fencing world. She is in her 48th season as head coach but also has worn many hats, from teaching PE classes to serving as a senior woman administrator, and starting many varsity programs, including softball and women’s volleyball. Vollkommer was also the first tenured female faculty member appointed at Stevens.
Photo credit: M. Cooper
BIG TREE - Coach Lisa Posthumus
Lisa Posthumus keeps Stanford Fencing going. Stanford fencing made big news when the women’s and men’s fencing teams were cut, but no one worked harder to save this program than Coach Posthumus along with a fired up alumni network. She has been at the helm of Stanford fencing for 24 years, making her Stanford’s third longest-serving head coach.
Photo from Stanford Fencing's Facebook page
MAC ATTACK - Coaches Judy Cummings, Roberta Gonzalez and Sharone Huey
Photo from Yumack.com
COACHES TO WATCH OUT FOR
This Ohio State coach is an associate head coach, Katarzyna Dabrowa. This coach has supported the individual epee champion and has been recognized by USFCA for her own excellence as the NCAA National Men’s Assistant Coach of the Year. Congratulations!
Fatima Largaespada was hired in November of 2021 by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and coached the team’s only NCAA women’s foil championship qualifier this season.
Lucia Procopio was a clutch anchor to her team at Wayne State by supporting the transition of a new Head Coach this season. Way to go, Lucia!
Szilvia Gyore is in her 17th season on the fencing coaching staff at Princeton. In 2022-23 and promoted to associate head coach in 2018. She has helped the teams earn a combined 12 Ivy League titles, 13 straight top-10 NCAA team finishes, eight top-four NCAA finishes, and the 2013 NCAA title. Wow.
Could Olympian Dagmara Wozniak be launching a coaching career with her entry into the Harvard staff this season?
Tasia Ford, assistant coach to THE GOAT at Temple University, continues to build the Owls’ saber success and establish her own coaching approach and rapport. Who isn’t envious of having Coach Franke as a day to day mentor?
Christine Griffith was hired this season by Cleveland State University and will launch her NCAA career in her first full season in 2022-2023. Good luck!
New coach posed with recent fencing graduates from Cleveland State. Photo courtesy of Coach Griffith.
WFencing would like to congratulate all the teams and athletes who worked hard through a still-difficult transition in this pandemic. As the NCAA looks closely at fencing and gender inequity issues, we want to highlight outstanding women coaches.
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