University of Notre Dame fencing coach Janusz Bednarski has been named the 2010-11 NCAA Coach of the Year in fencing by the United States Fencing Coaches Association (USFCA).
For Bednarski, it marks the first time being selected NCAA Coach of the Year after twice receiving the USFCA Midwest Regional Coach of the Year (1997, 1999). The 2010-11 campaign saw the Irish return to the national forefront, claiming their eighth National Championship and third under the direction of Bednarski, dating back to the '03 season when he took over as head coach of the program.
"Being named Coach of the Year is a great honor," remarked Bednarski. "With the results of last season it is a great satisfaction that my work and the hard work of others within the team including our athletes, coaches, administrators and other staff members was so effective and was rewarded in this way. It truly is a great honor and one I am very proud to have received."
En route to the team's title run, Bednarski guided the men's team to a 29-1 regular season record, while the women posted an undefeated 29-0 ledger. The squad then made history at the Midwest Fencing Conference Championships, capturing the overall team title for the second consecutive year while becoming the first team to sweep each of the six weapon concentrations since the conference formed in '99.
Bednarski's team qualified the maximum 12 fencers for the NCAA Championship and enjoyed four individual podium finishes on their way to the title. Freshman foilist Ariel DeSmet (Troutdale, Ore.) and junior epeeist Courtney Hurley (San Antonio, Texas) each claimed individual gold in their respective weapons, while senior sabreur Avery Zuck (Beaverton, Ore.) captured a silver medal and senior sabreuse Eileen Hassett (Beaverton, Ore.) secured bronze. It marked the second time that a Bednarski-coached squad captured two gold medals in the same Championship, as Sarah Borrmann (women's sabre) and Kelley Hurley (women's epee) accomplished the feat in '08.
Fluent in several languages, Bednarski received his master's degree in business in 1970 from Warsaw's prestigious SGPiS Business College, where he worked as a lecturer in economics. He obtained his coaching diploma from the Academy of Physical Education in 1978 and has published several articles on coaching, effective club management and the counseling of athletes. Bednarski has been a life member of the USFCA since joining the Irish coaching staff in 1994.
A resident of Granger, Ind., Bednarski and his wife, Izabella, have two sons: Michael (36) and Andrzej (30), a three-time sabre All-American and 2002 graduate of Notre Dame who also served as an intern assistant coach on his father's staff during the 2005 and `06 seasons.