Andy Shaw interviews Dave Micahnik at the 2010 Summer Nationals in Atlanta, Ga
Dave Micahnik was a member of the 1960, 1964, and 1968 United States Olympic Epee Teams. In 1960 he won the U. S. National Epee Championship. From 1960-73 he was ranked in the top 10 in men’s épée 10 times and was nationally ranked in foil and sabre. Twice the epee Gold Medalist in the World Maccabiah Games, he was coached throughout his career by the late Maestro Lajos Csiszar.
As the University of Pennsylvania’s Head Fencing Coach since 1974, he has winning records in each of his 33 seasons, 664 victories versus only 202 losses. Dave was chosen 1997 Collegiate Coach of the Year, and previously as Men’s Coach of the Year and Women’s Coach of the Year, by the U. S. Fencing Coaches Association.
His Penn teams have won a combined 22 Ivy League Championships, two NCAA team championships and 10 Intercollegiate Fencing Association team championships. Micahnik’s teams have produced 96 All-American selections and 109 All-Ivy First Team selections.
2 of his Penn fencers have competed internationally on United States teams in four Olympics; the Pan-American Games; World Championships; World University Games; World Junior Championships; Junior Pan-American Games, and World Maccabiah Championships.
Maestro Micahnik a certified Maitre d’Armes — has coached United States Teams in four Under-20 World Championships; five World University Games; two World Championships; two World Maccabiah Games, and two Junior Pan-American Games.
Devoted to the sport he loves, Micahnik has served on numerous NCAA, AFLA, and USFA committees, including the AFLA International Committee and the Olympic Fencing Committee. A current member of the USFA’s Congress, Veterans Committee, and board of Directors, he is a Vice President of the United States Fencing Coaches Association. Dave Micahnik is a member of the University of Pennsylvania Athletic Hall of Fame.
|From the Daily Pennsylvanian
Issue date: 4/21/09 Section: Sports
Fencing | Hall of Fame coach Dave Micahnik retires after 35 years
Author: Noah Rosenstein
The year: 1973.
The scene: the National Fencing Championships in Tuscon, Ariz.
Dave Micahnik had advanced to the semifinals in his quest to earn a fourth trip to the Olympics. A year earlier Micahnik had narrowly missed a finals berth at Nationals. After his elimination in the semifinals he stood in the middle of the floor, took his epee in both hands and tried to break it – but it wouldn’t break. He took it as a sign that his playing career should not end, and he returned to Nationals in ’73.
That year he came even closer, losing by just one touch in the semis and said to himself, “Now I know God doesn’t want this anymore.”
A fortuitous coaching vacancy in the Penn fencing program was too enticing for Micahnik to pass up, so the three-time Olympian and 1960 National Champion decided to permanently sheath his epee and join the coaching ranks at his alma mater.
Now, 35 years later, Micahnik has retired from Penn with 722 career wins, 22 Ivy League titles (including an undefeated men’s season this year) and two NCAA National Championships.
“I’ve been thinking about [retiring] basically since I turned 65 [five years ago],” he said. “It’s been year to year, and there’s always been the idea that we’d make an announcement not just cataclysmically but give some notice and allow the University to make it an orderly transition.”
He alerted the University Friday, but his announcement came Sunday night at the fencing team banquet at The Inn at Penn and was made official in a Penn Athletics press release yesterday.
“Dave is truly a Penn treasure, and his contribution to Penn Athletics and the fencing programs is unmatched,” Penn Athletic director Steve Bilsky said in the release. “He has always been the consummate professional and a loyal member of the Penn coaching fraternity.”
Fencing’s success this year – which included the program’s first ever six-weapon title at the International Fencing Association championships – was a crucial reason for Micahnik’s decision.
“I have too much pride to go out lousy,” he said. “I wanted to go out where people would say ‘Well done,’ as opposed to saying ‘Goodbye.'”
‘Well done’ is an understatement for a coach who was inducted into the US Fencing Hall of Fame last year in what he deems “a lifetime achievement award” for both competing and coaching.
Micahnik plans, among other things, to travel in his retirement, including what he considers “the trip of a lifetime” to Egypt this June with his wife Phyllis.
He also plans to stay involved with Penn’s fencing program, but insists that he does not want to “step on any toes,” and will only provide input when it is sought.
“The point is that I want the transition to be seamless. I want a new coach to come in and make it better than it’s been under me.”
Eclipsing the success of a Hall of Fame fencer and coach will be no easy task.