By Bendik Sorensen
President Kimberly R. Cline announced on Dec. 10, 2013, that seven new sports teams would be added to the school’s athletics department this semester. The seven teams are women’s fencing, women’s golf, wres- tling, and men’s and women’s indoor and outdoor track and field.
Michael Corona was brought in to coach the women’s fencing team. “There was no one else doing this here, so I had to build it up from scratch,” Corona said. He isn’t new to fencing or coaching, however. Corona was an All-American while at Penn State University, has coached the Brentwood High School team, and has received Coach of the Year in Suffolk County three times. Despite his numerous achievements, this is Corona’s first time coaching at a college-level.
“I was hired after the admission process, so I couldn’t bring people in, but there were three girls at the school who already knew how to fence,” Corona said of the recruiting process. He considers himself lucky that there were interested fencers on campus, and is now begin- ning to recruit girls who have never fenced before. Corona hopes that the three experienced girls will help him teach the newcomers.
“As of right now, we have 10 girls on the team,” Corona said
with a smile. He mentioned that there were some girls on the team who signed up before getting their course schedules, and later had to quit be- cause fencing conflicted with their classes. Corona assures that next year it will be better: “People can build their schedules around the team, like they do for the other sports,” he added.
Corona is very optimistic when it comes to the future. “There are 1,500-2,000 fencers on Long Island alone, and 17 high schools with fenc- ing teams.” Corona also explained that he has been trying to get the word out about the program. “With so many fencers nearby, you’d want them to come to our university.”
Corona also explained that because he was hired late he couldn’t acquire any home tournaments for the on-season. “In a tournament or meeting, you meet say five other teams, and spend the whole day doing it,” he said. “Since I got here so late, every school was already booked, so we’re doing a lot of traveling.”
Fencing season starts on Nov. 1, with a big tournament at Temple University, and can continue through March depending on the team’s performance. “I hope we can get some of the girls to nationals, or at least regionals. If not, the season finishes in February,” Corona said.
Alexa Perry, a senior Health Care Administration major and one of the three experienced fencers on the team, is optimistic about her new coach. “He’s very positive and a really good coach. He taught completely new girls to be fairly good fencers in just a few weeks,” Perry said.
Corona explained that it is a big challenge that he has such a wide level of experience to work with as far as the fencers are concerned. “I have to teach basic techniques to some, [while also having to improve] the already experienced girls.” Corona calls his team a “work in prog- ress,” but hopes to have a full team to work with this time next year.