July 12, 2016
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — University of Notre Dame head fencing coach Gia Kvaratskhelia announced the hiring of Anthony “Buckie” Leach as the new foil coach for Notre Dame’s men’s and women’s fencing teams. Leach will join the Irish at the conclusion of his second stint as the United States National Women’s Foil Team coach, after the Games of the XXXI Olympiad in Rio de Janiero this summer.
“When I became head coach, I promised to make our program the unquestioned best in the country,” Kvaratskhelia said. “Adding a coach of Buckie’s extraordinary caliber is the latest step towards that. He will be a fantastic addition to our staff and a great partner in developing our team for years to come.”
Leach, a native of Ithaca, New York, and a 2013 Fencing Hall of Fame inductee, combines the ability to develop talent to world-class levels, and to bring results on the biggest stages. During his career, his students have included seven Olympians (at least one on each U.S. Olympic Team since 1996); two Under-20 World Champions; five Under-17 World Champions; three World Championship bronze medalists; an Olympic Silver Medalist; four NCAA Champions; several collegiate All-Americans; and numerous U.S. National Champions.
Leach first served as U.S. National Women’s Foil Coach from 1996-2004. In Atlanta, the U.S. was led by a seventh-place finish from Ann Marsh, and a 10th-place finish from the women’s foil squad (which included Notre Dame’s Sara Walsh as a replacement athlete). Four years later in Sydney, the U.S. women – led by Marsh and Felicia and Iris Zimmermann – took fourth place in the team event.
In his second term as U.S. National Women’s Foil coach, the U.S. has qualified the maximum two fencers for Rio – Notre Dame senior Lee Kiefer (currently ranked third in the world), and Nzingha Prescod (ranked eleventh). The U.S. women’s foil team – with Kiefer, Prescod, Nicole Ross, and Irish sophomore Sabrina Massialas – finished in fifth place in this year’s World Championships (there will be no women’s team foil event in Rio).
During this Olympic cycle, U.S. women foilists have earned 10 individual and six team medals.
Leach has excelled as a club coach in addition to his national team accomplishments. From 1981-2001, he built the Rochester (N.Y.) Fencing Centre into a national powerhouse, placing more athletes onto U.S. National and Olympic Teams during that time frame. In 2001, he moved to New York City’s famous Fencers Club and continued to develop national-caliber fencers.
Leach earned his fencing master’s certificate from the American Fencing Academy in 1979.