A History of the All-American Fencing Academy in a collage
It’s not just a history of the All-American Fencing Academy, but if you’ve spent time at the Academy, you’ll recognize some symbols and imagery that are a part of your time at 207 B Donaldson St. Do you know what all the imagery means? Some are just about fencing, some are inside jokes, some many are part of the history of the All-American Fencing Academy.
The Armory: An important part of the Fencing Academy. Our fencers learn how to do basic repairs tot heir equipment!
The Fencing Dummy. There are two fencing dummies at the fencing club for our fencers to practice on!
Hangers: Coach Gerhard can be pretty particular about how club jackets and and hangers are returned!
Favero Fencing Reels: These reels eventually replaced all our overhead reels. No more getting weapons tangled in overhead wires and they rarely need to be repaired!
Favero Score Box: We started with a few red Triplette Score Boxes, but we eventually graduated to Favero Boxes that show time and scores with a remote control!
Fleur De Lis: Originally used for an award for a tournament, but we had an extra. It is now being used as a doorstop a the entrance of the Fencing Academy.
The Nissan Quest: Coach’s wife’s vehicle which was used to travel to many tournaments. The Quest started to be used since it had more space than the Coach’s GMC Jimmy.
Hurricane Florence: Hurricane Florence sat over Fayetteville for a long time and dropped an extreme amount of rain. If flooded so much of Downtown Fayetteville, but fortunately didn’t damage the Academy. We did get a lot of water seeping through the window and got a lot of our jackets wet.
The Tardis: Originally owed by Grace Guevarra, Coach’s daughter, but when she was redecorating her room, it found a new home at the All-American Fencing Academy.
Vivid.Audio.Move: This is a service called “Three Words”, and you can use it to find the exact location of the All-American Fencing Academy on a map!
Solder Gun: Very helpful in repairing our body cords!
Fencing Lame: The vest worn over the fencing jacket during competitive electric fencing that determines on target hits.
Clipboards: No shortage of clipboards at the Fencing Academy, often used for bout and direct elimination sheets during competitions!
USASOC: (US Army Special Operations Command) Many of our families are part of USASOC, a major command at Fort Bragg.
Ceiling Fans: It can get pretty warm during the summer, so any fans are important at the Fencing Academy. Early on, we added the 4 light adaptors to get more light in the fencing room. Later, all fans were replaced with 52 inch fans.
Coach/Fencing Master/Dr. Ron C. Miller: This is Coach Gerhard collegiate coach, mentor, and friend. Coach Miller retired from UNC Fencing in 2019 after 52 years as UNC’s first fencing coach.
AAFA Fencers: An early part of the AAFA imagery, often used with the official AAFA logo. You can see it in our vintage designs.
Medals and Awards: The All-American Fencing Academy tries to stay creative with our tournament awards. Fencing medals that are available online are all the same.
Coach Jon Charles: Jon Charles joined us early on while we were still on Fort Bragg. The Army has moved him away from Fayetteville, but he occasionally returns to fence and coach. Coach Jon Charles is an avid fan of Boba Fett, this is a symbol you see on Boba Fett’s armor.
Coach John Page: Shortly after moving to Downtown Fayetteville, John Page found us. He had fenced for New York University and coached at the All-American Fencing Academy for many years.
Coach Gabriel Guevarra: Coach’s son! He started fencing at 7 years old, started college, and started his own youth class at the Academy.
2020 Reader’s Choice Award: In 2020, the All-American Fencing Academy won the Reader’s Choice Award from the Fayetteville Observer for best Martial Art’s club in Fayetteville. It was the closest category we could fit in.
Cumberland County: It’s where Fayetteville is!
The Heater Switch: No, it’s not a lightsaber (that’s elsewhere in this collage). This long pole can be found in one of the corners of the fencing room and it’s used to turn the heater on and off.
GMC Jimmy: Many early fencers during our time at the Pine Forest Recreation Center travelled with Coach Gerhard in this vehicle to tournaments as far as Atlanta!
Original AAFA Logo: This shield logo was also red, white, and blue and all three fencing weapons. It was eventually replaced when the Fencing Academy moved to Downtown Fayetteville.
Coach Maya Cameron: Coach Maya coached at the All-American Fencing Academy for a few years before moving. Coach Maya is also an accomplished pianist and also taught piano in Fayetteville!
Coach Ola Socha: Ola is a Polish fencer and married a US Soldier. She moved to Fayetteville and coached sabre at the All-American Fencing Academy for a short time before returning to Poland to once again train with the Polish Olympic Fencing team! You can find her picture at the Fencing Academy!
C-130: The Lockheed C-130 Hercules can often be seen in the skies over Fayetteville. It is used by the 82nd Airborne to transport and parachute troops where they are needed!
The Fencing Dude: This is the North Carolina Fencing Development Program’s (NCFDP) logo. Coach Miller was not only the head coach of UNC Fencing, but the head coach of the North Carolina Fencing Development Program.
Coach Grant Shymsky: Coach Grant coached for us for a few years. He had started a small fencing club elsewhere in Fayetteville, but eventually joined the All-American Fencing Academy. Grant is a competitive cross fit athlete.
The Fencing Jacket: Worn by all of our students; part of the protective fencing uniform of a fencer.
The Bout Sheet: Our fencers use a bout sheet during competition. It records their scores, wins, and losses.
Flick: Flick is a little character Coach Gerhard created with different emotions that Coach uses for emojis in his text messages.
USA Fencing: USA Fencing is the governing body of fencing in the United States. The AAFA is an official USA Fencing club.
Dog Tags: Fayetteville is a Military community, and many of our family members and fencers are part of that community! The AAFA also sometimes uses dog tags as tournament medals!
North Carolina: Nothing can be finer than to be in Carolina! The AAFA is part of the North Carolina Division of USA Fencing.
Target Speed: This is a training tool you can find in the back corner of the fencing room. Funding for this training tool was largely through Academy friend, Francis Cicchini!
Annual Christmas Potluck: Every December, the AAFA hosts a Christmas Party and potluck. There’s always lots of good food, and fencers from the different classes get a chance to meet each other!
On June 8-10 2018, The All-American Fencing Academy celebrated 10 years of All-American Fencing and 15 years of Fencing in Fayetteville. This was the design for the t-shirts.
Visconti Grip: There are many types of fencing grips, most of the grips on our practice and competitive weapons are visconti.
Olympic Rings: Fencing was included for the first time at the 1896 Games in Athens, and has remained on the Olympic program since then.
Clip: This clip is probably the hardest thing to connect to your jacket when connecting to the fencing reel.
Fencing.net: Before we started purchasing all club equipment from Absolute Fencing Gear, we purchased most of our equipment from Fencing.net. The owner was also a UNC graduate.
The Fencing Mask: An integral part of the fencers practice and competitive uniform.
The Airborne Paratrooper: Fayetteville, NC is home to Fort Bragg which is home to 82nd Airborne Division. Many soldiers jump out of planes!
82nd Airborne Patch: The 82nd Airborne Division is headquartered at Fort Bragg. Many of our families and fencers are part of the 82nd Airborne Division.
New AAFA Fencers: A new AAFA Fencers logo replaced the previous AAFA fencers (also in this collage). The previous one was unbalanced, graphically.
Iron Mike: Iron Mike is a statue that can be found both on Fort Bragg and in front of the Airborne Special Operations Museum in Downtown Fayetteville, not far from the All-American Fencing Academy.
Fencing Glove: Another part of the fencers uniform for practice and competitive fencing.
Tar Heel Logo: Coach Gerhard started fencing with the UNC Chapel Hill Division I NCAA Varsity Fencing Team. Several AAFA fencers went to school at UNC and some also joined the team!
The Dead Squirrel: When the fencing club was still on Fort Bragg, the middle school where we were practicing called to inform us that a squirrel had gotten trapped inside one of our equipment closets and died.
1LT Zane Kang: One of our previous fencers was Zane Kang. Zane fenced at West Point and fenced for the All-American Fencing Academy when he was stationed at Fort Bragg. Zane suffered from heat stroke while taking physical training on Monday July 26, 2004, and was taken to Womack Army Hospital at Ft Bragg with a 108 degree temperature, and was transferred to UNC hospital at Chapel Hill on Tuesday where he passed away.
Water bottles: It can get pretty warm at the Fencing Academy during the summer! There’s always water bottles around the Fencing Academy!
Fox Bookkeeping: Nicole Cicchini, owner of Fox Bookkeeping is also a generous sponsor of the Fencing Academy who sponsors the finals fencing strip.
Floor Fans: The All-American Fencing Academy received a grant to purchase several fans to cool off the room during the summer. There is a big floor fan at every corner of the main fencing room.
Downtown Fayetteville Logo: The Fencing Academy finds it’s home in Downtown Fayetteville.
Absolute Fencing Gear: Many of the academy’s fencing equipment is purchased from Absolute Fencing Gear. Absolute’s owner, Gary Lu is also a longtime friend of Coach Gerhard from college. Gary fenced for Penn State and was a frequent opponent of UNC.
Theatre Seats: Prior to the Fencing Academy. Ms. Josi Strasnicsak used the space for a dance and ballet studio. She had several theatre seats in the space.
Cumberland County Logo: Fayetteville and Cumberland County has always been home to the All-American Fencing Academy in all its iterations.
Coach Paul Uyleman: One of the All-American Fencing Academy’s coaches, Paul Uyleman was previously a part of the Dutch Marines.
Cumberland County Fencing Club: Prior to the All-American Fencing Academy, Coach Gerhard taught fencing at Pine Forest Recreation Center and it was called the Cumberland County Fencing Club, and affiliate of the North Carolina Fencing Development Program.
$10 Cup: This was the logo for the $10 tournaments the All-American Fencing Academy would host for many years.
The Harry Rulnick Open: The Harry Rulnick Open is a tournament held annually in honor of Mr. Harry Rulnick who donated some funding while the AAFA was still the Cumberland County Fencing Club.
Marquis de Lafayette: Fayetteville shares the distinction of being named for the Revolutionary War hero with other cities and counties. However, Fayetteville, North Carolina was the very first one to bear his name and the only one that he actually visited. In 1777, at the age of only 19, the Marquis de Lafayette sailed from France to America to join the colonists’ fight for independence from England.
Coach Isaac Erbele: Coach Isaac coached at the Fencing Academy while he was stationed at Fort Bragg. Isaac was a graduate of the US Military Academy at West Point.
Coach Melea Stoltenberg: Coach Melea coached for the Fencing Academy for many several years. She’s also a professional photographer.
Coach Megan Connell: Megan was one of the Fencing Academy’s first assistant coaches. She loves tea! We would always find her tea cups!
Coach and Armorer Ben Fouty: Ben not only coached some of our epee fencers, but he was the Fencing Academy’s lead armorer. He helped make many of the Academy’s renovations, repair fencing equipment, and taught armoring classes!
Federation International d’Escrime (FIE): The International Fencing Federation (FIE) is recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the world governing body of fencing. The FIE quality label can be found on some fencing equipment, granted after the homologation procedure, with the year of manufacture and stating 800N.
Fencing Shoes: Although not required, many fencers purchase specialized shoes for fencing. They provide extra padding where fencers experience a lot of foot impact and wear and tear.
Coach Paul Hovey: Paul was one of the All-American Fencing Academy’s first student when we were at the Pine Forest Recreation Center. He coached some classes and camps and graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and also fenced on the UNC Fencing team.
Ms. Josi Strasnicsak: Prior to the Fencing Academy, the space was used by Ms. Josi as a ballet and dance studio. The bars that holds are masks and jackets are ballet bars.
Matthew Woods Voiceover: Matt Woods is a longtime friend of Coach Gerhard since middle school. He’s also a sponsor for the Fencing Academy and has done several voiceovers for the Fencing Academy’s videos.
It’s not just the heat, it’s the humidity: It can get pretty warm and humid at the Fencing Academy during the summer! Make sure you take plenty of rests and drink lots of water!
Stairs: Unfortunately, the Fencing Academy isn’t the most handicap friendly places to access. You can find a lot of our favorite artwork going up the stairs!
Lightsaber: We are Star Wars fans! The Fencing Academy has hosted lightsaber classes and choreography on May 4th.
The Blue French Horn: Another easter egg that can found at the Fencing Academy. Coach Gerhard had a busted french horn at home that he spray painted blue in homage to one of his favorite TV shows, How I Met Your Mother.
The Princess Bride: The Princess Bride is the perennial favorite of many fencers! The AAFA would often play it during annual Christmas Parties.