Ari Lichy and Jerry Chang Life long coach

Ari Lichy and Jerry Chang at a competition at Harvard

The student/coach relationship in fencing is an incredibly deep and resonant one. A real coach leaves his true and great mark on the soul of his students. The best coaches are not chasing medals or pushing for high scores, they recognize that these are really just byproducts of the actual goals that they’re striving for with their students.

What are those real goals you ask? The real goals of a coach are to develop a student’s ability to:

  • learn
  • succeed
  • work hard
  • be respectful
  • pay attention
  • show gratitude
  • be humble

Athletes connect with those true coaches, those masters of the art in long lasting ways. Should they, for whatever reason, move on then they still continue to keep in touch with them, sending thank you notes and birthday cards for many years to come. So too do coaches feel that same connection with their students. Coaches follow their athlete’s success for many years to come, caring not only about some achievement on the strip or field, but in life in general.

The correspondence that coaches get from their students is meaningful and important. Coaches save these notes and from time to time revisit their scrapbooks, coming back to the notes from former students. It’s these letters that make their hearts melt, and such letters are a physical representation of the genuine accomplishments of these great coaches.

Today we’d like to share one such note, a letter from a former student here at AFM who recently graduated and has gone on to fence for the NCAA team at Boston College. These pieces of connection, these links between coaches and students, are so vitally important! We are so very thankful to be a part of this process.


Hi Irina, 

I hope everything at the club is going well. From the newsletters it seems like the club is growing quickly and having lots of great competition results! I am thankful to be a part of such a wonderful fencing club and family. 

On the topic of fencing family, I wanted to let you, Igor, and especially Natasha and Alexandr know that Jerry Chang and I met up last night at a competition at Harvard. A part of the Boston sports tradition, the tournament we competed in is named the Beanpot, and includes all the varsity fencing teams in Boston. Both Jerry and I did well individually (though he beat me when we fenced), as he went 8-1 on the day and I was 5-4. Overall, Harvard won the tournament and Boston College finished second, ahead of Brandeis and MIT. 

Personally, this was a great moment and a time to be thankful for the amazing coaching and support of Natasha and Alexandr, who were essential in getting Jerry and I to where we are today. 

Best wishes for everyone,