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Who We Are

Listed below are the current members of the Fencing Officials Commission.
Click each name for a brief biography and, where available, a photo.
An email link is provided in each FOC member's bio. Feel free to contact the members with questions or observations.

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Sam Cheris - FOC Chair



Sam Cheris - FOC Chair

Name: Samuel David Cheris
Place of Birth: Brooklyn, New York
Date of birth: November 14, 1945
Occupation: Attorney
Hometown/State: Denver, Colorado
Do you coach? No
When/Where did you start fencing? 1960, Brooklyn Technical High School
What weapon(s) did you fence? Foil, Epee. Saber
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Craig Bell, Jean Helliwell
What fencing club did you represent? Stanford Fencing, Cheyenne Fencing
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? Election as member of the FIE Executive Committee
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? Brooklyn College
Do you still fence? No
When did you begin to referee? 1967
Why do/did you continue to referee? A place where I could give back to the sport
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? George Kolombotovich
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? The referee should be a part of the flow of the bout, almost invisible. Decisions should be made without emotion and with total objectivity. Ensure rules are enforced evenly.

Damon Scaggs - FOC Secretary



Damon Scaggs - FOC Secretary

Name: Damon Scaggs
Place of Birth:
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Additional thoughts:

William Becker - Board Liaison



William Becker - Bord Liaison

Name: William Becker
Place of Birth: Fort Lauderdale
Date of birth: December 6,1965
Occupation: Teacher, Fencing Coach
Hometown/State: Phoenix, AZ
Do you coach? Yes
When/Where did you start fencing? Miami 1981
What weapon(s) did you fence? All 3 but mostly Sabre
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Dr. Nancy Estes, Geza Kogler, Jaques Piguet, and Valentin Nikolov
What fencing club did you represent? Broward Community College Fencing Club, South Florida Fencing Club, and Fencers Club of Arizona
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishments? Fencing: Winning the Vet 40 MS National Championships in 2011
Reffing: Officiating the WS and team WS gold medal matches at the 2011 World University Games
Did you fence in college? Yes
Do you still fence? Yes I was the 2011 Vet 40 MS national champion
When did you begin to referee? 1986
Why do/did you continue to referee? I like the opportunity to give back to the sport which has given so much to me and my family.
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Gerrie Baumgart, Francisco Martin, Atilio Tass, Wes Glon, Luis Casado
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? To be fair and impartial
Additional thoughts: I would like to thank my wife and family for all of their support through the years. Without this I would not have been able to accomplish all that I have.

Gerrie Baumgart



Gerrie Baumgart

Name: Gerrie Baumgart
Place of Birth: Chicago, IL
Date of birth: September 16
Occupation: Real Estate Broker
Hometown/State: Northglen, Colorado
Do you coach? No
When/Where did you start fencing?
What weapon(s) did you fence? Foil because I had to, Epee because I loved to
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Fencing - Uriah Jones, Mel North, Skip Shirtz. Now isn't that a mixed bag!
What fencing club did you represent? Amistad, Salle du Nord, Cheyenne Fencing Society and CU
Refereeing Accomplishments Gold medal - team 1996 Olympic Games and just being a referee at the Atlanta Paraolympics
Did you fence in college? No - I was however the first woman on the rifle team
Do you still fence? NO, but am seriously considering starting again
When did you begin to referee? Locally, as most of us did as there are never enough referees at local competitions. Nationally, in the early 80's Internationally in the late 80's and early 90's.
Why do/did you continue to referee? Because I enjoy it, and and it gives great satisfaction to help other become superior referees
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Refereeing - Ralph Goldstein and Ralph Zimmerman
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? Personally - to reach the highest level possible and to provide a secure atmosphere for the fencers.
Additional thoughts: A referees role is to be non intrusive to allow the fencers to compete at their highest level, to create a fair playing field by making sure the rules are followed and allow the competition to proceed in an orderly and correct fashion.

Omar Bhutta



Name: Omar Bhutta
Place of Birth: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Date of birth: March, 1979
Occupation: Pediatric Critical Care Physician
Hometown/State: Hanover, NH
Do you coach? Yes
Where do you Coach? Dartmouth College
When/Where did you start fencing? 1993 at the En Garde Fencing Club run by Mr. Charles Murphy
What weapon(s) did you fence? Foil
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? My coaches Charles Murphy, Emmanuel Kaidanov, Wes Glon, Jun Liang, and my parents Rita and Omar.
What fencing club did you represent? En Garde Fencing Club, Three Rivers Fencing Center, The Pennsylvania State University, and most recently Salle Auriol Seattle and Dartmouth College.
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? Walking on to the Penn State Fencing team after 2 years as the team manager and earning a spot to compete at National Championships. Also, being the Brother of a National Champion.
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? Penn State University
Do you still fence? Recreationally
When did you begin to referee? I started refereeing in my club, because it was expected that you would referee bouts when you weren't fencing. I didn't start refereeing nationally until about 2000, when my friends in the referee corps pressured me to start refereeing instead of working Bout Committee.
Why do/did you continue to referee? Once I started my medical training, I did not have the time to commit to my fencing training. Refereeing was a way to stay involved in the sport. It turns out, that refereeing is really really fun, so now I can't stop.
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? The list is endless...my coaches Emmanuel Kaidanov and Wes Glon for teaching me what right of way was...my referee idol, Charlie Washburn, for the hours spent watching how to act like a referee...all the fencers and coaches who continue to help me improve...my referee mentors George Kolombatovich, Bill Oliver, and Derek Cotton...my Bout Committee mentors, George Masin and Barb Lynch...and most importantly, the ICU physicians, nurses, and families at Seattle Children's Hospital who taught me how to function under pressure and cope with failure. The bottom line is that everyone has something to teach you, but you must be willing to be taught.
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? The referee is never the star, and is at his or her best when forgotten. Ultimately though, it is most important that fencers be able to compete on an even playing field, and the referee must facilitate that. This is why knowledge of the text and the application of the rules is critical. But also critical is the knowledge and application of convention, which is more nebulous. Perhaps most elusive though is knowledge, acceptance, and admission of our own biases in the way we facilitate that even playing field.
Additional thoughts: "Humility is just a bout away." ~Modified for fencing from Ron Gibson "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." ~Richard Feynman Nul n'est censé ignorer le Reglement

Peter Burchard



Peter Burchard

Name: Peter W. Burchard
Place of Birth: Kentfield, California
Date of birth: November 1, 1951
Occupation: teacher / librarian
Hometown/State: Oakland, California
Do you coach? Yes
Where do you coach? Halberstadt Fencers' Club
When/Where did you start fencing? University of California, Santa Cruz
What weapon(s) did you fence? All three
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Michael D'Asaro, Ion Drimba, Emil Beck
What fencing club did you represent? Halberstadt, Pannonia, NOBA
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? US World Championship Team (foil) '78, '83
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? UC Santa Cruz
Do you still fence? Yes
At what level do you participate? recreationally
When did you begin to referee? In college
Why do/did you continue to referee? To give back to the sport
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Thierry Brouquier
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? I believe that the fair, skilled and unprejudicial arbitration of competition is one of the most important factors in our sport

Iana Dakova



Iana Dakova

Name: Iana Dakova
Place of Birth: Sofia, Bulgaria
Date of birth: December 11, 1967
Occupation: Physical Education teacher and Fencing Coach
Hometown/State: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Do you coach? Yes
Where do you Coach? Three Rivers Fencing Center, Carnegie Mellon University
When/Where did you start fencing? 1979
What weapon(s) did you fence? Foil
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? All of my coaches
What fencing club did you represent? Slavia Sofia
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? Team Bakan Champion
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? National Sport Academy, Sofia
Do you still fence? No
When did you begin to referee? 1993
Why do/did you continue to referee? To stay involved with the sport
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Violetta Katerinska, George Kolombatovich
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? The referee must embody Competence and Confidence at all times.

Sharon Everson



Sharon Everson

Name: Sharon Everson
Place of Birth: Staten Island, New York
Date of birth: November 2, 1946
Occupation: teacher / administrator
Hometown/State: Highland Mills, New York
Do you coach? Yes
Where do you coach? Salle Santelli, New Jersey (on leave)
When/Where did you start fencing? Brooklyn College, Brooklyn, New York
What weapon(s) did you fence? Foil
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Denise O'Connor, Lajos Csiszar
What fencing club did you represent? Salle Csiszar
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? 3-time National Foil Team Champions
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? Brooklyn College
Do you still fence? Yes
At what level do you participate? recreation
When did you begin to referee? Brooklyn College / National Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association
Why do/did you continue to referee? 1) Desire to contribute, give back to the sport.
2) Satisfaction in developing new referees
3) Fun
4) Comraderie
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Denise O'Connor, Ralph Goldstein

Doug Findlay



Doug Findlay

Name: Doug Findlay
Place of Birth:
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Occupation:
Hometown/State:
Do you coach?
When/Where did you start fencing?
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Additional thoughts:

Mary Frye



Mary Frye

Name: Mary P. Frye
Place of Birth: Pontiac, Michigan
Date of birth: August 12, 1959
Occupation: Programmer/Analyst
Hometown/State: King of Prussia, Pennsylvania
Do you coach? No
When/Where did you start fencing? I started fencing in February, 1983, with the fencing club at Oakland University, in Rochester, Michigan
What weapon(s) did you fence? I started out fencing foil. I started playing with an epee in the spring of 1986, mostly so I would have more events to fence at the National Championships. There weren't many women's epeeists at the time in Michigan, so it was relatively easy to qualify for the Nationals. I fenced both weapons for three years, then switched to epee full-time in the summer of 1989.
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Ann Ezzell. She got me started fencing epee, pushed me into becoming a referee, and introduced me to the national-level fencing community.
What fencing club did you represent? I started out representing Oakland University. After a couple of years, I switched clubs, and began representing the Fencing Academy of Michigan. When I moved to Pennsylvania in 1993, I joined the club I currently represent, the Fencing Academy of Philadelphia.
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? My third place finish at the 2004 Division 1 National Championships.
Did you fence in college? No, I started fencing after I graduated from college.
Do you still fence? Yes, I am still an active fencer, at both the Senior and the Veteran's levels.
When did you begin to referee? I was first rated as a referee at the National Championships in 1990
Why do/did you continue to referee? I enjoy fencing tournaments; the camaraderie of the referee corps, the diverse personalities of the competitors, coaches and spectators, and the excitement of the competition.
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Ann Ezzell got me started working as a referee. Since then, I've been influenced in any number of ways by so many people, they are too numerous to mention. I think that everyone can always work to improve some facet of their skills, and this is best done by watching and talking to fellow referees, and learning from their experiences.
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? The job of a referee is to facilitate the smooth functioning of each bout. This means doing what you can, to the best of your ability, to ensure a fair competitive environment for both fencers, by applying the rules appropriately and making correct decisions.

Mary Mahon



Mary Mahon

Name: Mary Mahon
Place of Birth: Miami, Florida
Date of birth: August 21
Occupation: Laboratory Director
Hometown/State: Miami, Florida
Do you coach? No
When/Where did you start fencing? 1990 in South Florida then later in Boston
What weapon(s) did you fence? All three but focused on Foil
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Bill Becker and Bill Shipman
What fencing club did you represent? Miami Fencers and Boston Fencing Club
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? I was a good fencer but not “great”. I did manage to frustrate Kelly Williams out of a sectional gold once though.
Did you fence in college? Yes
Do you still fence? No – all my time goes towards refereeing. I miss it though.
When did you begin to referee? 1992. I used refereeing as a way to get myself to NAC’s to compete.
Why do/did you continue to referee? There are so many reasons. Some of the most interesting people I have ever met are in the world of fencing. I am continually fascinated by the sport, and have grown as a person through it. I hope to always and at every point in my life be stripside in some capacity serving the sport of fencing.
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? The same person who has had a major influence on all aspects of life – my father. He gave me tools to navigate any situation in life - honesty, integrity, compassion, and a self deprecating sense of humor. I also owe a debt of gratitude to the coaches who have shaped my refereeing career. Buckie Leach, Nat Goodhartz, Ro Sobolvarro, Andrea Lagan, Gary Copeland, Mike Pederson, Walid Mahran and so many more have gifted me with their knowledge and perspectives and for that I am forever grateful.
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? A referee should think of themselves as the conductor to a great orchestra. We have a responsibility to control and direct the bout without interference. A good referee will inspire the best performance possible in the athletes while remaining relatively anonymous. A good referee never seeks to draw attention to themselves – it’s all about the athletes.
Additional thoughts:

Francisco Martin



Francisco Martin

Name: Francisco Martin
Place of Birth: Bilbao, Spain
Date of birth: September 26
Occupation: PE. Teacher / Fencing Master
Hometown/State: Yonkers, New York
Do you coach? Yes
Where do you coach? The Masters School, Dobbs Ferry, NY
When/Where did you start fencing? 1967 Madrid, Spain
What weapon(s) did you fence? Sabre
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Fencing itself
What fencing club did you represent? Sala de Armas de Madrid
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? Six times National Champion (Spain)
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? National Institute Of Physical Education, Spain
Do you still fence? No
At what level do you participate? World Championships Many International events
When did you begin to referee? 1969
Why do/did you continue to referee? For the good of fencing
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Chaba Palagui
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? Confidence
Additional thoughts: Impartiality is of utmost importance

Jon Moss


Jon Moss

Name: Jonathan Moss
Place of Birth: New Jersey
Date of birth: July '53
Occupation: teacher
Hometown/State: Lee, New Hampshire
Do you coach? Yes
Where do you coach? University of New Hampshire and Tanner City F C
When/Where did you start fencing? Pompton Lakes High School 1969
What weapon(s) did you fence? Epee (and some foil)
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? John Thomas, Charles Schmitter
What fencing club did you represent? UNH and TCFC
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? Michigan State University
Do you still fence? No
When did you begin to referee? 1980
Why do/did you continue to referee? Give back to the sport. Front row seats for great competitions
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? Ralph Goldstein and Ralph Zimmerman

Mark Stasinos



Mark Stasinos

Name: Mark Stasinos
Place of Birth: Los Angeles
Date of birth: July 10, 1958
Occupation: Wellness Consultant, Nutritionist, Interior Designer, Design Consultant, Carpenter
Hometown/State: Orem, UT
Do you coach? Yes
When/Where did you start fencing? Los Angeles, my next door neighbor was a mater in sabre from Sweden. 1970
What weapon(s) did you fence? Sabre and Foil
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? Ralph Faulkner, Michael D'saro, George Kolombatovich, Sharon Everson and Gerrie Baumgart
What fencing club did you represent? Faukner Studios, Cal State Northridge, Brigham Young University, Basel Fecht Club, Salle d'Escrime, Utah Valley Sport Fencing
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? I consider my greatest accomplishment in fencing in 1987 when I passed by masters exam in Basel, Switzerland and the times I made the finals at Nationals. In addition, the success of my fencing students and referees I have had the opportunity to work with.
Did you fence in college? Yes, I fenced and ran the program at Brigham Young University for 10 years
Do you still fence? Yes, I still fence when I can
When did you begin to referee? 1985
Why do/did you continue to referee? I enjoy the experience of associating with other referees, coaches and fencers and what I can learn from them
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? George Kolmbatovich, Ed Richards, Gerrie Baumgart, Sharon Everson and Gay Jacobsen
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? Allow the fencers to fence and apply the rules fairly and evenly in all situations
Additional thoughts: It is a pleasure to serve with the FOC and to help in the development and strengthening of our referees. I feel honored have the opportunity to, in addition, learn from such a talented group or senior referees.

Derek Cotton - FOC Emeritus on FIE Commission d'Arbitrage



Derek Cotton

Name: Derek Cotton
Place of Birth: Los Angeles
Date of birth:
Occupation:  
Hometown/State: Los Angeles, CA
Do you coach? Yes.
When/Where did you start fencing?
What weapon(s) did you fence? Mostly foil
Who was a major influence on your fencing career?
What fencing club did you represent?
What do you consider as your greatest refereeing accomplishment? Refereed in two Olympic Games
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college?
Do you still fence?  
When did you begin to referee?
Why do/did you continue to referee?
Who was the major influence on your officiating career?  
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee?
Additional thoughts:

George Kolombatovich - FOC Emeritus



George Kolombatovich - FOC Emeritus

Name: George Kolombatovich
Place of Birth: New York, New York
Date of birth: August 29, 1946
Occupation: Fencing Coach
Hometown/State: New York, New York
Do you coach? Yes
Where do you coach? Columbia University
When/Where did you start fencing? 1950 / With father, Oscar F. Kolombatovich, at home and, starting in 1951 with Giorgio Santelli at Salle Santelli on Spring Street in New York City
What weapon(s) did you fence? All
Who was a major influence on your fencing career? My father, Oscar F. Kolombatovich
What fencing club did you represent? At various times, Salle Santelli, NYAC, Huntington Fencing Academy
What do you consider as your greatest fencing accomplishment? Captain of US Army Team, National Masters Champion
Did you fence in college? Yes
What college? NYU
Do you still fence? No
When did you begin to referee? I was taught that it was very important to know what a referee saw so I was encouraged by my father to referee from an early age in the club. My first experience as a referee in a competition occurred at a Long Island Division competition when I was 13.
Why do/did you continue to referee? The main reason I started refereeing was an excessive hatred of inadequate referees. As I gained more experience, I realized that I had no right to complain about inadequate referees if I did not work to improve the situation.
Who was the major influence on your officiating career? I really started high level refereeing at Salle Santelli on Sixth Avenue in New York City. There was one strip that where we fenced with the winner staying up. If you lost a bout, you became the referee. This strip regularly had the following top-level fencers - and friends - on it: Ed Ballinger, Marty Lang, Bobby Russell, and Ed Wright. When I made an incorrect call, many of them would provide a few choice words and then explain why I was wrong. Sometimes the fencers and the others who were watching would disagree so we got to discuss all sorts of actions.
What are your thoughts regarding the role of referee? The referee is at her or his best when no one remembers who was the referee. A good referee simply acts as a "translator" of the language of the blades that the two competitors use. It is most important to remember that it is the fencers who are the show, not the referee. This can only be accomplished if the referee knows the rules, and then applies them correctly and fairly.
Additional thoughts: As I was told by both of my masters, Oscar Kolombatovich and Giorgio Santelli, it is important for a fencer to know the rules and what a referee has to do so that officials cannot put the fencer at an unfair disadvantage. Learning to be a referee not only helps our sport, it also helps a fencer to be better as a fencer.