Sabrecoachkate Podcast


You are listening to the SabreCoachKate podcast, where I highlight the great thinkers, athletes, and coaches in the dynamic sport of Olympic fencing.


  • Episode 26: Nikki Franke

    Episode 26: Nikki Franke

    01/07/2019 Duração: 58min

    Nikki Franke began her illustrious fencing career her last year in high school; she really enjoyed the combative mental aspect of it and threw herself in wholeheartedly. She attended Brooklyn College and trained with Denise O’Connor. Eventually the two became Olympic teammates. Desirous of a graduate degree, she went to Temple University to serve as the TA of fencing thanks to prodding from another great American fencer: Sharon Everson; eventually she became the Head Coach there. She holds many titles and honors; perhaps the greatest one being Fencing Legend with a capital “F” and “L”. Listen as Dr. Franke explains the need for more fencing exposure for inner city youth. She’ll explain how training for the Olympics back then differed from today. You’ll hear what she looks for in a recruit and her vision for a college-level fencing team. She’ll also give advice on how an athlete should choose which college to attend. And she’ll regale you with stories from driving through the blizzard at the Richmond NAC with

  • Episode 25: Stacey Johnson

    Episode 25: Stacey Johnson

    21/06/2019 Duração: 56min

    Back in September of 2018, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Stacey Johnson. Then life got in the way (mostly moving to our new club space) and I haven’t had a chance to edit it until now. I had forgotten just how much insight Ms. Johnson shared, not just about fencing but about perseverance and teamwork, skills that she used to great effect in both her professional and athletic endeavors.   Ms. Johnson started her athletic career on the back of a horse, then got involved in fencing at the age of 13 when the Pentathletes at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio asked her to attend a tournament and help keep time and score. For three solid months she was terrible at fencing until the fateful day her coach exasperatedly switched the foil to her left hand….less than four years later she made the Junior World Team. You’ll hear her talk about what it was like to be on the Olympic Team the year President Carter boycotted the Games.   She was very successful in her own fencing career but then used it as a spring

  • Episode 24: Terrence Lasker

    Episode 24: Terrence Lasker

    19/10/2018 Duração: 01h05min

    Terrence Lasker was one of your run-of-the-mill teenagers who wanted a job working with computers someday. When a Magnet high school opened in Kansas City, he jumped at the chance to study in their state-of-the-art computer science program. What he didn’t expect was turning that passion into a lifelong love of fencing. After being wooed by the promise of travel to international competitions and thanks to their focus on Olympic sports, Terrence learned from one of the greatest Sabre coaches of all time: Vladimir Nazlymov.   Under Nazlymov’s guidance and with the help of teammates such as Jeremy Summers, Terrence became a 5-time national champion, 4-time member of the U.S. National Team and was first alternate for the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team in 1996.  He was the assistant fencing coach at Ohio State from 2003-2008 and has been coaching at Nellya Fencers since 2008.   Tune in today to hear the amazing story of a normal, nerdy teenager who became one of Sabre fencing’s top athletes and coaches.

  • Episode 23: Cody Mattern

    Episode 23: Cody Mattern

    04/10/2018 Duração: 01h05min

    Cody Mattern started fencing at age 15 after, believe it or not, an argument with his brother. After only training for two years he became the Junior National Epee Champion, a feat he repeated the following year. He competed at the 2004 Summer Olympics, placing 22nd in Individual and 6th in Team. Next, Cody took part in the US Army’s World Class Athlete Program from 2005 to 2012; that final year he was part of the Men’s Epee Team that won the World Championships. After all these competitive successes, Cody retired to coach epee full time at the Northwest Fencing Center in Beaverton, Oregon. Tune in today to hear of Cody’s journey from teenaged fencing wonder to coach, USAFencing Board Vice President, and Vice Chair of the USOC Athletes Advisory Council.

  • Episode 22: Lisa Campi-Sapery

    Episode 22: Lisa Campi-Sapery

    20/09/2018 Duração: 01h03min

    Lisa Campi Sapery is a woman who has filled pretty much every possible role in our sport: elite college athlete, coach, international referee, referee trainer, club owner, and published author. She is known as the Fencing Referee in various places online, including her YouTube channel,, and Facebook. She started fencing when her sister Barb thought the guy at the recruiting table was cute...and the rest is history. Tune in today to hear more about this history, a life story you will find both inspirational and uplifting.   As a side note, if you’re interested in her scouting journals, they are available on Amazon and from several fencing vendors.

  • Episode 21: David Sach

    Episode 21: David Sach

    22/03/2018 Duração: 01h02min

    Today’s episode is the story of David Sach, a man who has represented fencing on two continents, and who you probably know best as the Head Assigner of Sabre at most NACs. You know: the guy with the accent at the big table in the middle of the venue. You just had no idea who he really is!   David holds elite status in the fencing trifecta of competitor, coach, and referee. As a fencer, he won a number of cadet, junior, and senior National titles including a run of 5 back to back Junior National Championships, 2 silver individual medals and a team Gold at the Commonwealth Games. As a coach, he served as a British Fencing World Class Performance Pathway Sabre coach and has helped produce several national champions, World Cup medalists, a Cadet World Champion, and Olympians. And as a referee, he has earned an FIE licence which allowed him to work a couple of Senior World Championships and the 2008 Olympics.   He is currently the Director of Operations at Boston Fencing Club, one of the oldest in the country, and

  • Episode 20: David Sierra

    Episode 20: David Sierra

    08/03/2018 Duração: 01h49s

    David Sierra started fencing at Texas A&M when he needed a PE credit and didn’t want to sign up for Advanced Weightlifting or Aerobic Power-walking. Since then, he has worked his way up the referee ranks and is currently the co-owner of Cutting Edge Fencing Center, a Sabre-only club, near Fort Worth, Texas. Listen as he describes what the fencing world was like back when he started in the 90s and the changes he has helped bring to our sport as both a tournament organizer and a member of the US Fencing Board of Directors. He’ll also talk about what it’s like to start your own fencing club and offers advice to anyone looking to do the same. Important note: yes, David is my beloved husband. We both decided to pursue this interview from an impersonal, impartial journalistic perspective as much as possible and not as a married couple. This is HIS story, not ours. Tune in today to hear what David Sierra, an up and coming Sabre coach, club owner, and referee has to say about the history and the future of fencin

  • Episode 19: Maureen Griffin

    Episode 19: Maureen Griffin

    22/02/2018 Duração: 01h03min

    Maureen Griffin decided to start fencing foil at age 14 when she quit the swim team and her dad told her she had 24 hours to find a new sport. Four years later she came to the US on a fencing scholarship at the University of Wisconsin. After her retirement from fencing in 1988, she came back two years later as an epée fencer, eventually earning a spot on the Canadian National Team. Maureen moved to the west coast in 1995 because it was an epée hotspot and seriously focused on her training in San Francisco. That led to a Bronze medal that year in Team Women’s Epée at the PanAmerican Games. She lost her berth at the Olympic Games in 1996 by a very small margin and talks about how she overcame that disappointment. Maureen’s transition to coaching started in foil, moved to epée, and culminated with a trip to Hungary to study under legendary Laszlo Szabo. She served as the Junior Women’s Epée Coach from 2008-2013. Maureen has been the owner of Golden Gate Fencing Club in San Francisco for 20 years. She works tirel

  • Episode 18: Damien Lehfeldt

    Episode 18: Damien Lehfeldt

    08/02/2018 Duração: 01h17s

    Damien Lehfeldt currently coaches epée at the Richmond Fencing Club. His fencing career began when he was a kid, continued through his years at Brandeis, led him to the Maccabi Games and a berth on the DC Fencers Club epee squad that took gold at the 2012 North American Cup, until one fateful day it occurred to him that he loved coaching more than competing. His website,, earned an award as one of the Top 50 Fencing Blogs at the beginning of 2018. He and his writing team post articles on a variety of topics, ranging from the role of women in fencing to a very personal entry about his recovery from a severe fencing injury. Damien can often be found on Facebook,, Reddit, and other forums leading wide-ranging discussions about contemporary societal issues. Tune in today to listen to one of the thought-leaders of our sport talk about his experiences as a competitive fencer, Olympic epée Coach, blogger, and die-hard Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan: Damien Lehfeldt.

  • Episode 17: Peet Sasaki

    Episode 17: Peet Sasaki

    25/01/2018 Duração: 01h16min

    If you say the name “Peet Sasaki” to a group of fencers, they might look at you with a baffled expression on their face... although admittedly for some that’s just their natural look. If, however, you ask them who “FRED“ is, nearly every single one will be able to give you an answer. The name FRED is as ubiquitous a name to a fencer as HAL is to a sci-fi fan. FRED is the Fencing Results and Events Database and Peet Sasaki is its creator. It’s what *everyone* uses to sign up for local and regional tournaments. Nearly every fencer in this country has an account there. If you do, you have a record of every event you have ever fenced. It’s an amazingly huge database. It’s currently being phased out by USFencing’s new system but will continue in the near future to fulfill the role Peet set out for it from the beginning: 1) To let people pre-register for fencing tournaments in an effort to help both fencers and organizers have a more pleasant experience. Imagine being a tournament organizer and not know exactly how

  • Episode 16: Delia Turner

    Episode 16: Delia Turner

    11/01/2018 Duração: 01h34s

    Delia Turner is a vivacious, energetic woman who has accomplished much in life simply by, as she says, “showing up”. She has held a wide variety of jobs, including legal secretary, science teacher, English Department Chair, published author, calligrapher, and Adjunct Faculty at Temple University. She started fencing at 40 years of age and has become one of the top Veteran Women’s Sabre fencers in the US—and in the world. Listen as she talks about her fencing career, how her role as an educator helped her fencing skills, and about the two protagonists she created for her fantasy books. She also gives advice to adult fencers and tells us why fencing Sabre is like writing with a fountain pen. Tune in this week to hear the stories of a wonderful storyteller, Delia Turner.

  • Episode 15: Dan Kellner

    Episode 15: Dan Kellner

    14/09/2017 Duração: 48min

    Dan Kellner started fencing in the 7th grade. He had a video game called Summer Games and had trouble figuring out the fencing part. He asked his mom about the sport so much that eventually she took him to his first coach, Ted Li. Ted was the Olympic Armourer at the time and would expose Dan to his first taste of attaining a shot at Olympic Gold. Later, Dan became Simon Gershon’s student. Where Coach Li was instrumental in teaching and perfecting Dan’s foil technique, Coach Gershon led him through the tactics of the game. The work of both coaches would lead to many successes in fencing: Silver at the National Championships in 1997, 1998, and 2000. With such a phenomenal trajectory in the works, Dan instead hit rock bottom in 2000. He missed qualifying for the Olympic Team that year and took it really hard. It was a challenging time for him both mentally and physically: he gained weight from the lack of activity and was in a funk. But fencing called him back. A year to the day he walked out of his club for wh

  • Episode 14: Andrew Fischl

    Episode 14: Andrew Fischl

    31/08/2017 Duração: 01h01min

    Andrew Fischl didn’t start fencing until his junior year of high school but achieved a lot very quickly: he was 5th in the country in 2013. Before fencing, Andrew had tried many sports: soccer, tennis, baseball, lacrosse, etc but none of these sports really engaged him the way fencing did. The reason most people know him is because of the videos he creates. Going by the name Cyrus of Chaos (his handle in Super Smash Brothers) his YouTube channel currently houses over 2500 videos of international-level competitions. He started recording bouts at his first Div 1 NAC in Columbus in 2007, when he, in his words, “was a wide-eyed little fencer who got destroyed in my pool leaving me the rest of the day to walk around and watch. I remember seeing so many things that made me think "oh I should be doing it like this" or “I want to try the timing of that next time I am at practice". Then the next day I couldn’t specifically remember anything.” He took his parent’s videocamera to the next tournament and began recording

  • Episode 13: Keeth Smart

    Episode 13: Keeth Smart

    24/08/2017 Duração: 54min

    Keeth Smart is a saber fencer who achieved a lot of success on the fencing strip. He qualified for three Olympics, placing 30th in 2000, 15th in individual and 4th in the team event in 2004, 6th in individual in 2008. He also won the silver medal in the team event that year, after serving as the anchor. In 2002 and 2004, Keeth won the US National Sabre Championship. Perhaps greatest of all, in 2003, he became the first American to be named the top-ranked fencer internationally. He was elected to the US Fencing Hall of Fame in 2014. You can still find Keeth involved in our sport. He coaches at the Peter Westbrook Foundation and serves on their Board. But he’s also involved in the world of business. After an internship at Google, several managerial positions at Verizon and Bank of America, Keeth decided to start his own business, Physiclo, in 2014. He and his team created and now produce high quality compression gear with built in resistance for a more productive workout. Physiclo has received great reviews fr

  • Episode 12: Coaches Academy

    Episode 12: Coaches' Academy

    17/08/2017 Duração: 01h22min

    Back in the day, coaches received training at was then called Coaches' College. Begun in the late 80s by the United States Fencing Association, its purpose was to create an opportunity for professional development for fencing coaches. When the cold war ended, the USFA brought Soviet bloc coaches over in 1990 to lead the program with Jack Keene serving as the main organizer. Alex Beguinet and Vinnie Bradford took up the reins in 1993. Vinnie helped organize it for 10 years, Alex for 20. The USFA decided to cancel the Coaches' College in 2003. The United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA) started the Coaches' Academy last year to fill the professional development void. Only 8 coaches attended but the spark was created. The Academy this year, organized by Gary Vanderwege, had triple the number of participants. It featured a Moniteur level session from July 30-Aug 3, and an advanced (Prevot and Master) level session from Aug 2-6. The USFCA Annual General meeting was held Aug 3 and several special awards

  • Episode 11: Michael Mergens

    Episode 11: Michael Mergens

    10/08/2017 Duração: 53min

    Michael "Mergs" Mergens, is a USFA certified Armorer, Coach and Referee with over 35 years of experience in the sport of Fencing. He regularly works as the Head Armorer and Team Armorer for many of the USA Fencing National and International events. He is the owner of the online Armorer’s Store ( and is the author of the well-known book called The Care and Feeding of all Things Fencing. Mergs graduated from Texas A&M in 1977 with an engineering degree and belonged to the Corps of Cadets and Parson’s Mounted Calvary. He went on to serve in the US Army and was stationed in Bosnia and Iraq. He also was a part of many projects for NASA, including the creation of a trash compactor for the Space Station. This is one smart man!! Listen now to the interview I did with him in the cafeteria of Keystone College in Pennsylvania where we were both attending the Coaches’ Academy.

  • Episode 10: Lynn Botelho

    Episode 10: Lynn Botelho

    03/08/2017 Duração: 51min

    Like all of my guests, Lynn Botelho is a multi-faceted individual. She is a professor of history at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and serves as the Director of Women’s and Gender Studies. She teaches courses on the Renaissance and Reformation, early modern Europe, the history of the body, and English history. She has written numerous books on the history of old age and the aging body. You can check out her blog for more information about them. On a comical note, I checked out Lynn’s profile on the popular “Rate my Professor” site. Her top tags are:  GET READY TO READ (7) TOUGH GRADER (5) EXTRA CREDIT (3) AMAZING LECTURES (3) INSPIRATIONAL (2) SO MANY PAPERS (2) RESPECTED (2) CLEAR GRADING CRITERIA (1) LECTURE HEAVY (1) SKIP CLASS? YOU WON'T PASS. (1) GIVES GOOD FEEDBACK (1) LOTS OF HOMEWORK (1) Lynn is also a high-level foil fencer and has earned many honors in our sport. She has been part of many Veteran World Championship Teams, earning Silver in Team Foil and Bronze in I

  • Episode 9: Carla-Mae Richards

    Episode 9: Carla-Mae Richards

    27/07/2017 Duração: 58min

    Carla-Mae Richards allowed me to interview her the first day of Summer Nationals this year. It was really intimidating because she is a legend in our sport. Not only was she a fencer back when girls weren’t really allowed to participate in sports, but she became the first Executive Director of what would become the United States Fencing Association. She has had a direct influence on many aspects of fencing, including the structure of the North American Cup, or NAC, tournament series. If you want to read the speech she gave as she was being inducted into the Fencing Hall of Fame, visit Here’s a quote from it: Though I never succeeded, as an athlete, beyond New England fencing, there remained the fierce determination of the competitor to prove oneself. And so I traded the sword for the pen and paved the way for future growth – not just in numbers but in stature of and respect for US athletes. It was a roller coaster ride especially with little preparation.

  • Episode 8: Kamali Thompson

    Episode 8: Kamali Thompson

    20/07/2017 Duração: 56min

    My guest today is Kamali Thompson. Kamali is a very dynamic and determined individual who not only trains as an elite athlete but is also in medical school. She very candidly talks about her training regimen and turning disappointment into success. A mere three weeks after learning she didn't make the Olympic team she rallied and won the Division 1 Women's Sabre championship. You'll learn about the village it takes to create an elite athlete and the journey that Kamali took--and is still taking--to reach the pinnacle of our sport. I had so much fun doing this interview. Even though it was long distance, Kamali's energy and laughter made it a joy. Tune in now for an interview full of powerful insights into the double life of Kamali Thompson.

  • Episode 7: Summer Nationals

    Episode 7: Summer Nationals

    13/07/2017 Duração: 58min

    This year’s Summer Nationals and July Challenge broke records for attendance, even though the qualifying paths were more challenging. Many participants and coaches commented on how much more difficult every event was than in past years, which means the overall quality of fencing in our country is increasing! Over 4200 athletes total competed in this tournament—most of whom did multiple events. Day 6 had the highest number of participants in a single day: nearly 1500!   Every day, I did a series of one-minute interviews to capture the stories of the people who make up this incredible environment. You’ll hear from armourers, National Office staff, vendors, fencing parents, Olympians, coaches, fencers, and referees. Every person at the venue was vital to the success of such a huge event. You’ll also hear the energy, excitement, and NOISE the participants experienced. Tune in now to hear what the largest fencing tournament in the world sounded like!

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