UND Staff

Gia Kvaratskhelia

Head Coach


Bio

Highlights

  • 2017, 2018 NCAA Team Champions
  • 2018 USFCA Varsity Collegiate Coach of the Year
  • 2016, 2017 Co-ACC Women’s Coach of the Year
  • 2016 Co-ACC Men’s Coach of the Year
  • 2015, 2019 ACC Men’s Coach of the Year
  • 2019 ACC Women’s Coach of the Year
  • 2013 Midwest Fencing Conference Varsity Coach of the Year
  • 2010-11 U.S. Fencing National Coach of the Year
  • 2015-16-17 ACC Women’s Fencing Championship
  • 2015-16-17 ACC Men’s Fencing Championship
  • 2002 US Olympic Committee Developmental Coach of the Year
  • 50 Foil All-Americans
  • 15 NCAA Individual Champions

Guiorgie “Gia” Kvaratskhelia (GEE-uh KLAW-duh-SKELL-ee-uh) became the seventh head coach in Notre Dame fencing history in 2014, succeeding Janusz Bednarski after having spent the previous three years as associate head coach and five as an assistant. Kvaratskhelia is a foil specialist, and is quickly building his legacy as one of the nation’s top collegiate coaches after leading the Irish to consecutive national championships in 2017 and 2018 and earning national coach of the year honors by the United States Fencing Coaching Association in 2018.

Since joining the Irish staff in 2007, Kvaratskhelia has overseen a thriving foil program. Irish foilists have qualified the maximum of four foilists each year for NCAA championship play. Since 2008, seven foilists have achieved four-time All-America status with Kvaratskhelia at the helm. Irish foilists have captured eight NCAA individual championships since 2010, including a four-time winner in Lee Kiefer (2013-’14-’15) and two-time winners in Gerek Meinhardt (2010, 2014) and Nick Itkin (2018, 2019). Ariel DeSmet also captured a men’s foil championship as a freshman in 2011.

In four of his first five seasons at the helm of the Irish, Kvaratskhelia steered his program to consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference titles on both men’s and women’s sides, while both teams placed second in the conference in 2018. The Irish have claimed 26 of 30 individual weapons titles since the conference was re-formed prior to the 2014-15 season. Kvaratskhelia was named the 2015 ACC Men’s Coach of the Year, the 2016 Co-ACC Men’s Coach of the Year, the 2016 Co-ACC Women’s Coach of the Year and the 2017 ACC Women’s Coach of the Year for his efforts.

Prior to joining the Notre Dame coaching staff, Kvaratskhelia spent 10 years as coach of the Kanza Fencing Club in Salina, Kansas. In that time, Kvaratskhelia transformed Kanza from a small recreational club into one of the nation’s top foil centers. His fencers at Kanza combined to win three USFA national men’s open foil team championships, with six of his Kanza fencers going on to compete at the Division I level as scholarship athletes. His Kanza fencers combined to be national finalists 15 times, while receiving nearly 50 national medals.

Kvaratskhelia — who became a U.S. citizen in 2004 — immigrated to the United States in 1994 from the former Soviet Republic of Georgia. After coming to the U.S., he remained active in his own fencing career by competing in domestic and international events. He first ventured into coaching in 1994, assisting Vladimir Nazlymov (now head coach at Ohio State) at Central Fencing Club in Kansas City and at the satellite Lawrence Fencing Club. Two years later, he accepted the challenge in Salina and spent 10 years building Kanza into a nationally recognized club.

Kvaratskhelia began fencing in 1988 at the age of 13, progressing quickly and becoming a member of the Georgian National Foil Team from 1990-94, fencing alongside the likes of Vladimir Aptiaouri (a member of the U.S.S.R. foil team that won gold at the 1988 Olympics). Kvaratskhelia took home the bronze medal at the 1990 Soviet Junior National Championship — shortly before Georgia declared its independence — and later had an impressive 11th-place finish at the 1992 European Championship.

Noted for his tremendous communication skills, Kvaratskhelia is fluent in Russian, Georgian and English. He received his bachelor’s degree in physical education and sport in 1993 from the Georgian State Physical Training Institute in his hometown of Tbilisi. He also earned a sports journalism certificate from that institution (`92) and pursued graduate studies in journalism at Tbilisi State University in 1993 prior to coming to the United States.

Kvaratskhelia and his wife, Dani Edson, have one daughter, Maya, and one son, Alexander.