Maxwell Garret has long been recognized as one of the country's top fencing coaches and as one of the leading internationally ranked fencing officials. Not only was it important that his teams have winning records and capture titles, but more importantly, Coach Garret insisted that his athletes achieve academically and develop the self-discipline and character that would enable them to be successful in their future endeavors.
Maxwell (Mac) R. Garret, born Max Goldstein, was the eldest of three children of Russian born parents. He lived most of his early years in Manhattan (near Harlem) and later, in East Bronx. He received his high school education at Townsend Harris High School, a preparatory school for City College of New York, at 23rd Street and Lexington Avenue. There he played baseball, soccer, basketball, and was on the varsity fencing team (Captain from 1933-1934).
Mac attended City College of New York from 1934-1939 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Education with a major in Physical Education. At CCNY, he was a varsity fencer and was Captain of the 1938-1939 team. After graduation, his ties to Townsend Harris remained strong as evidenced by his work as volunteer fencing coach at Townsend Harris in 1939-1940. In 1939 Mac placed second in the Intercollegiate Fencing Association (IFA) Foil Championship. He was a candidate for the 1940 U.S. Olympic Foil team, however, World War II was in progress, and no Olympic competition took place.
Mac became the Fencing Coach at the University of Illinois in 1940 and continued his graduate work there from September 1940 until March 1942 when he received his Master of Science degree. Mac’s career at Illinois was interrupted by World War II.
In 1942, Mac enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force, graduating from Officers Candidate School in 1943. He served four years in the military. As Special Service and Information and Education Officer, Mac put together a variety show that sold a million and a half dollars in war bonds. He was honorably discharged in 1946 with the rank of Captain. Continuing in the Reserves, he retired with the rank of Major.
Mac married Diana Rosen in 1943. They had four children: Roger (1944), Roberta (1945-1984), Esther (1947), and Bruce (1951). All four children graduated from the University of Illinois. Roger was on the fencing team and was selected All American in his senior year.
After the War, the University of Illinois developed a nationally recognized wheelchair sports program. Dr. Tim Nugent, founder and director of the U of I rehabilitation program, encouraged Mac to develop the first U.S. fencing program for students with disabilities. Mac coached the first U.S. wheelchair fencing team that brought home medals from the Paralympics.
During his tenure at the University of Illinois, Mac was an Associate Professor, first in the department of Physical Education and later in Recreation and Park Administration. Mac developed the Garret Total Body Reaction Timer. This device was used in the Physical Education Research Lab for training purposes.
Mac also created innovative courses for the Recreation and Parks curriculum. For 14 years (1952-1966) he operated and directed a private summer day camp, Camp Illini, for children of families in the community. The camp served as a proving ground for Recreation and Parks majors. Mac also included children with physical disabilities in the camp program and always took pride in their accomplishments.
During his 28 years as Head Fencing Coach at the University of Illinois, the Illini won 17 Big Ten Championships, 2 NCAA Championships, and was only once ranked lower than second place in the Big Ten. To recognize his inspirational coaching and leadership, the University of Illinois fencers, their families, and alumni established the Maxwell R. Garret Fencing Scholarship in 1966.
In 1969 Mac took a year’s leave of absence from the U of I to serve as the Director of the Academy for Fencing Teachers in Israel. He was also appointed as the National Coach for the State of Israel.
In 1972 Penn State University recruited Mac as Professor of Recreation and Park Administration and as Head Fencing Coach. In 1973 Mac established the Penn State Open Fencing Tournament that became one of the most prestigious collegiate fencing tournaments in the country. Mac retired from Penn State University In 1982. During his ten years at Penn State, Mac’s teams won six conference championships and placed third in the NCAA in 1978-79. In recognition of his achievements, Penn State University fencers and their families established the Garret Fencing Scholarship. In 1982, upon his retirement, the annual Penn State Open Fencing Tournament became known as the Garret Penn State Open.
Although Mac "officially" retired in 1982, his contributions to the sport never ceased. He continued to serve as an Internationally ranked fencing official and officiated frequently at major national and international tournaments as well as circuit events. After retiring from Penn State, Mac recognized the need to encourage fencers of all ages to continue with the sport for their physical and mental well-being, especially for those 40 years of age and older. He was Chairman of the USFA Veteran Age Fencing Program from 1982 until 1997. During this time, he organized and coordinated fencing competitions for Veterans in conjunction with local, sectional, and national tournaments. The USFA Veteran Fencing Program participated in its first international tournament with Great Britain in 1993.
Max Garret officiating a bout for a film on basic fencing that he made for the University of Illinois.
In 1996 the Olympic Fencing Committee put into action Mac’s original concept to utilize uniform hand signals for referees, as suggested in an article he had written forty years prior. In Atlanta, Mac worked closely with his son Roger, who was the producer for the 1996 fencing Olympics and Paralympics. Together they put in countless hours to make the fencing tournament a success.
While manager of the U.S. Veteran Age Fencing Team at the International Tournament in Siofok, Hungary in 1999, Mac met with representatives from several countries and FIE representative, Max Gueter. They met with the International Fencing Federation (FIE) requesting that the FIE sponsor “The World Veterans Championship.” This request was granted the following year. Mac wrote or co-authored a dozen books dealing with fencing, boating, recreation, physical education and physical fitness. As former editor of the Swordmaster magazine, he published more than 45 articles in magazines and professional journals. He served as contributing editor to the Swordmaster, American Fencing and Mentor magazines. In addition, he served as a member of the editorial board of the Physical Education magazine. His latest book, Foil, Saber and Epee Fencing, was published by Penn State Press in May, 1994.
In 1989 Mac and Diana moved to Boynton Beach, Florida, where they currently live. Together they attended and assisted at many major fencing events in the United States and abroad.
ADDITIONAL PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES AND HONORS
Who's Who in World Jewry, 1955.
Elected to the Helms Hall of Fame for Fencing, 1956.
Who's Who of American Jewish Athletes, 1958.
Assistant U.S. Olympic Fencing Coach, Rome, Italy, 1960.
Fencing Coach of the Year, 1962 and 1965.
Service Award from the Athletic Institute 1969.
Director of the Academy for Fencing Teachers in Israel 1969-1970.
National Fencing Coach for the State of Israel 1969-1970.
Head Fencing Coach for Israel at World Championships, Ankara, Turkey, 1970.
U.S. Head Fencing Coach at World University Games, Torino, Italy, 1970.
U.S. Fencing Coach, Junior World Championships, South Bend, IN, 1971.
International Fencing Official, 9th Maccabiah Games in Israel 1973.
U.S. Fencing Coach and member of organizing committee for Andrei Spitzer Memorial (Under 19) Tournament in Israel, 1973.
Inducted into the City College of New York Athletic Hall of Fame, 1974.
U.S. Head Fencing Coach, Maccabiah Games in Israel, 1977 and 1981.
Member of U.S. Olympic Fencing Committee, 1982.
Member of the U.S. Fencing Association Board of Directors, 1982.
Manager of the U.S. National Sports Festival, Colorado Springs, CO, 1983.
Manager of the U.S. Fencing Team, Junior World Championships, Leningrad, Russia, 1984.
Founding member and three times President of the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association, 1950-1952, 1962-1963, and 1982-1984.
Former Editor of the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association Swordmaster magazine.
Internationally ranked fencing official at major national tournaments, circuit events, and Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida State Games.
As Emeritus Fencing Master, examined candidates for accreditation as Fencing Instructors, Prevosts, and Masters.
Chairman of U.S. Fencing Association Veteran Age Fencing Program,1982 - 1997.
Commissioner for Fencing, Florida Sunshine State Games, West Palm Beach, 1992.
Co-Chair Organizing Committee, U.S. National Championships, Ft Myers, FL, 1993.
Organizer and Chief of Mission, International Senior Age Tournament, England, 1994.
Advisor to the Florida International University Fencing Club, 1995-1997.
Hosted International Veteran Age Competition at St. Petersburg Beach, FL, 1995.
Chef de Mission for the U.S. Veteran Age Team, Kassel, Germany, 1996.
Organizing Committee, World Masters Games and Acting Captain, U.S. Veteran Age Team vs. Germany, Oregon,1998.
Outstanding Achievement Award from USFCA, July 1998.