The Fencing Center – Our Timeline

The Fencing Center was founded 1981.

Fall 1981 :

Founding Coaches:                              Peter Burchard, Peter Schifrin, Greg Massialas

President and Attorney-at-law:   William B. Parker

Vice-President:                                      Byron Honda (father of Mike Honda)

Secretary:                                                  Carol Adamek

Treasurer:                                                  Peter Baran

Name of Organization: Asgard Fencers, a 501c3 non-profit organization. Asgard Fencers is the name of The Fencing Center till today.

The Start: Peter Burchard, teaches an adult education fencing class at Independence High and is joined by fellow SJSU fencers Peter Schifrin and Greg Massialas to create a fencing club.

Early members and key volunteers: Jim and Marlene D’Amco, Nancy Flores, Sherry Posthumus, Jan Schmidek and Connie Yu.

Spring, 1982 Asgard’s (1st home) is located at old San Jose Mercury News Building at 10 Notre Dame, with Scott Knies, Executive Director of TFC. (Currently Executive Director at San Jose Downtown Association). Renowned maestros, Delmar Calvert and Michael D’Asaro give lessons in the glass-enclosed editorial offices. Barbara Jackson organizes San Jose Junior Fencers and the club has a growth spurt.

Scott Knies promotes fencing with demonstrations at Great America, Oakland Warriors’ basketball game and El Paseo de Saratoga Shopping Center. The club is featured in TV’s Evening Magazine, with J.O. U-16 silver medalist Jessica Yu demonstrating foil techniques.

Oct. 1983 Grand Opening of The Fencing Center at 40 North First Street (2nd home), Fencers and parents renovate this historic but dilapidated Knights of Columbus building into The Fencing Center, the first facility for the sport of fencing in Santa Clara Valley. Local merchants donate goods and services and galas are held. Bleachers are set up for the large attendance at finals of national tournaments at the Center, a showcase of fencing. TFC logo became a symbol of excellence.

Golden Year of 1984 :

At Junior Olympics in Oregon, TFC fencers sweep:

  • Gold: U-20 sabre: Michard D’Asaro Jr., U-16 Men’s Foil: Marty Yu, U-16 Epee: Terrence Garguilo,
  • Silver: U-20 Epee, Terrence Garguilo, U-16 sabre, Nick Faroujja,
  • Bronze: U-16 Sabre, Leonard D’Amico, Finalist, U-20 WF, Jennifer Yu.

National championships in Chicago:

1984 Olympics – Los Angeles, CA: Olympians Peter Schifrin (Epee) and Greg Massilas (Foil) fence for the U.S. and a large contingent of TFC members are official Olympic volunteers.

  • TFC wins Gold in Men’s Foil Team. (Massialas, Burchard, Hinton, Nonomura, Yu).

1986 – 88 :

Co-Directors Primo Orpilla and Alex Garcia teach all levels of classes. Saul Mendoza (currently the Owner of The Fencing Post and Head Coach at San Diego Fencing Center) joins coaching staff. TFC is headquarters for Central Calif. Division of USFA and hosts qualifying tournaments. Sabre Team of Scott Knies, Mik. Benedek, Jesse Dogillo and Leonard D’Amico dominate Pacific Coast championships.

  • A USFA first: two pairs of sisters Jenny and Lisa Posthumus (current coach at Stanford Univ.) and Jennifer and Jessica Yu win the bronze medal in Women’s Team foil at ’88 Nationals Championships

Connie Yu teaches outreach class at the Palo Alto J.C.C., launches annual TFC sponsored tournaments, FallFest Epee and SpringFest Jr. Foil at the site, which continue 20 years.

1990 :

  • Jennifer Yu, coached by Saul Mendoza wins Gold at Nationals in Salt Lake City, and represents U.S. at World Championships in England. Jennifer was the first woman to receive a fencing scholarship at Stanford University.

1989 -1994 :

A generation of TFC’s juniors set the standard for youth sportsmanship and fencing style, graduate high school and become stars on university varsity teams, among them:

  • Geoff Donaker Matt Broad, Josh Keckley-Stauffer, Darren Raphael.

1996 TFC moves from its home for 13 years as 40 North St., is purchased by John Fry for the San Jose Ballet. President, Dirk Decker and Connie Yu organize the move (3rd home) to Fry’s Electronics, 550 Brokaw Rd, from summer 96 to the following spring, the club struggles to maintain training on two wooden strips in a carpeted office space.

1997 :

Return to Downtown: (4th home) 110 Stockton Avenue, San Jose, CA. 1997 to 2013.

1997 Dirk Decker, Executive Director, finds a warehouse building to rent near the Arena (110 Stockton), TFC faces the challenge of paying high rent and building spaces for fencing and teaching. We meet the obstacles with a strong competitive base, attracting members, led by epee national point holder, Mike Botenhagen who also volunteers to teach beginning classes for all ages.

It is a time of constant renovation while seriously training competitors and hosting classes and workshops. We are sustained by loyal members, volunteers and a concerned board.

Highlights 1997 - 2002 :

  • Mike Botenhagen wins silver in men’s epee, PCC’s, 3 years,
  • 1997 PCC’s Charlie Kanavel wins Jr. Foil and Jr. Epee Gold.
  • Raelyn Jacobson, top national Y14 epee fencer point holder and top women’s cadet epee.
  • At 1998 Nationals, Austin TX: Jr. Women’s Foil Team Gold, Silver Women’s Sr. Team, Jacobson, Katie Decker, Joanne Sickler.
  • Raelyn makes it to the Cadet WE World Team and Pan Am Team in where she fences both epee & foil.
    • Her coach, Connie Yu, is chosen Coach of the Year, Western Region, by the USFCA.

2005 :

New management of the club in 2005, with Connie Yu, president & vice-presidents, Mike Botenhagen, Beth Martinson.

Some of the many TFC fencers who attended top universities (2004-2009)

  • Yale:               Nathan Elchert
  • UCSB:            Valerie Chan, Colin Lindsey
  • Santa Clara University:     Matt Sorenson
  • University of Chicago:       Pete Erickson
  • Stanford:       Matt Burriesci, Dan Tucker, Harrison Osaki, Greg Donaker, Rebecca Illowsky, Kersten Schnurle, Cole Connelly.

2008 Mark Wheeler, President, continues renovations to maximize bouting space and other uses for the club. “Team Building”, fitness classes held. TFC hosts Bay Cup fencing events

Natasha Maximovich builds a youth-junior training program, with top local & national results . Mike Botenhagen training national competitors, from youth to veterans.

  • Junior Olympics: Feb 2010, first time 3 TFC fencers in the same national finals – Jason Chang and Edbert Chang, tied for 3rd and Jerry, 5th place, Cadet Men’s Foil.

USFCA’s Award of Merit presented to Coach Connie Yu, 2010

2010 Mike Botenhagen is head Coach, new developmental programs, teaching structure,

Man-Sum Lai, mentored by Mike, earns his Prevot D’Escrime Fleuret. Class times extend to six days a week. Sarah Thompson is TFC office manager. TFC receives its 3rd BASHOFF grant for development of youth fencing.

Summer Nationals 2011 TFC does well and shows range and depth 4 medals:

  • Jerry Wu: Gold in Y10 Youth Foil
  • Camille Esnault (14): Gold in Div. III epee,
  • Ari Lichy (15): Gold in Div. III Men’s Foil,
  • Jerry Bothelio: Gold in Vet-60 Men’s Epee

2012 :

An eventful year. The Board lets go of Head Coach Mike Botenhagen (Jan 22). A group of parents and members get together to start classes for Mike at JCC – Los Gatos. Some members of Board were changed at the next meeting and Mike Botenhagen was reinstated.

March 12, 2012: The Board made the following appointments:

  • Sandeep Tiwari                                  President
  • Mario Hernandez                             Vice President
  • Alex Sanjines                                       Treasurer
  • James Simoni                                      Secretary

2012 onwards: Club starts to grow in revenue and membership. Mike Botenhagen leads Epee, Natasha Maximovich leads Foil (other coaches include Connie Yu, Man-Sum Lai) , New programs are started and the new revenue is used for some much needed repairs to the facilities.

Volunteers clean floor (Richard Hoopes, Sandeep, Jerry Bothelio, Dave Johnson, others). Oct 10, 2012: New paint on the strips with a blue and red theme. (donated through the courtesy of Don Swanson – President of G Swanson Construction and Lance Cole (LC Painting). LC Painting did a job par excellence, neatly painted white lines separating the zones, and a wonderful blue and red theme.

2012 -2014 :

With our new growth the search for a larger building began in earnest.

April, 2012 – Heath Winer joins TFC as our new Office Manager.

August, 2013 – Natasha leaves after many years teaching at TFC.

September 21, 2013,  Robin Philips from Santa Cruz begins teaching at TFC.

February 15, 2014 – First photos of our new building.  Heath & Jonathan Jefferies call Mike while he is at Junior Olympics.

August 15, 2014 – TFC’s Grand Opening Potluck Party!