July 9, 2018
By Joanne Norell
ST. LOUIS — After leading the University of Notre Dame fencing program to its second National Collegiate Fencing Championship in as many seasons, head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia was named national Coach of the Year by the United States Fencing Coaches Association.
Kvaratskhelia will accept the award at a presentation ceremony Oct. 12-15 in Milwaukee, in conjunction with the first North American Cup. His previous national coach of the year awards came in 2010 and 2011, when he was named the U.S. Fencing National Coach of the Year by the United States Olympic Committee.
In his four seasons as head coach, Kvaratskhelia has led the Irish to six Atlantic Coast Conference Championships (three men’s, three women’s), in addition to national titles in 2017 and 2018. The most recent campaign saw the Irish capture their first back-to-back titles since 1977 and 1978.
The Irish added 10 All-Americans to their ranks in 2018 — including men’s foil champion Nick Itkin — bringing Kvaratskhelia’s All-America total to 44 since taking over as head coach. The Irish also claimed five individual ACC Championships (in women’s foil, women’s sabre, women’s epee, men’s foil and men’s sabre) in 2018.
A celebrated coach on the national and international stage, Kvaratskhelia has earned several conference, regional and national coaching awards. He is a four-time ACC Coach of the Year (two men’s, two women’s) and the 2013 Midwest Fencing Conference Coach of the Year, in addition to his national recognition by U.S. Fencing in 2010 and 2011. He has also spent time as a foil coach at the national level, tutoring American men’s and women’s foilists at the cadet and junior level.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame men’s tennis and fencing programs, in addition to assisting with football communications and overseeing production of the football Gameday Magazine. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.