July 1, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Notre Dame fencing program has promoted Gia Kvaratskhelia to the position of associate head coach, it was announced on Friday by head coach, Janusz Bednarski.
“Gia is a great asset to the Notre Dame fencing team with his attitude for hard work, his ambitious personality and overall love for the collegiate sport within an academic environment,” stated Bednarski. “He is one of the best motivators I have seen during my long work as a fencing coach. Gia is a great coach with a friendly attitude toward all of our student-athletes and staff, and is a key piece of our great staff here at Notre Dame.”
Kvaratskhelia will continue to work primarily with the foilists in terms of his coaching responsibilities on the strip, but he will now also be the primary assistant to the head coach in terms of recruiting, scheduling, public relations, compliance, academic services, summer camps, and administration of the overall program.
In February 2011, Kvaratskhelia also was honored for his international feats, being named the 2010 U.S. Fencing National Coach of the Year. For the past three year’s Kvaratskhelia served as one of the designated coaches of the U.S. men’s and women’s foil team, travelling to Marseille with the cadet boys and girls championships, Budapest for the junior women’s foil championships and London for the junior men’s foil championships.
During his four seasons at Notre Dame, the Irish have qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the NCAA Championship each year, including the national championship effort in 2011 that saw Ariel DeSmet take home the gold medal in men’s foil. It marked the second-straight gold medal for the Irish in foil, as Gerek Meinhardt took home the title in 2010. In addition, he has helped guide 14 foilists to All-American status.
Kvaratskhelia came to Notre Dame following 10 years as the coach of the Kanza Fencing Club in Salina, Kan. He transformed the club from a small recreational club into one of the nation’s top foil centers, earning 2002 USFA National Developmental Coach of the Year honors. Kanza fencers appeared in the national finals on 15 occasions, receiving nearly 50 national medals. Kanza also produced Notre Dame’s Steve Kubik and Teddy and Grant Hodges.
Kvaratskhelia competed on the Georgian National Team from 1990-94, taking home a bronze medal at the 1990 Soviet Junior National Championship and later an 11th place finish at the 1992 European Championship. After immigrating to the United States in 1993, he placed fifth in the open competition at the 1996 North American Cup and fenced at World Cup events in 1998 and ’99.
A native of Tbilisi, Georgia, Kvaratskhelia graduated from the Georgian State Physical Training Institute in Tbilisi and was pursuing a graduate degree in journalism from Tbilisi State University in 1993 before immigrating to the United States. He became a U.S. citizen in 2004 and is fluent in Georgian, Russian and English. He and his wife, Dani Edson, have one daughter, Maya.