About Us

Coaches

Taro Yamashita

Head coach Taro Yamashita started fencing in college, where he fenced both foil and epee, and helped his team win the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Championship all four years. Concentrating on epee after college, he was ranked as high as #34 in the USA and #302 in the world.

Taro has coached US Veteran National champions and Veteran World Team members in all three weapons.

Taro coached for many years at the college level, including at Brandeis University, MIT, and the University of Massachusetts (Amherst). His teams have earned national club championship and conference titles, and individuals have earned national and conference honors.

Lisa Wolf

Assistant coach Lisa Wolf, PhD teaches the introductory lesson series for students new to fencing. She is also a nurse and the Director of Research for the Emergency Nursing Association. Lisa has been fencing at Riverside since 2009, and actively competes.

As of March 2020, Lisa is ranked #44 in the world and #4 in the USA in the Veteran-50 (ages 50-59) Women's Epee category. Lisa was a member of the 2019 USA Fencing Veteran World Championship team that competed in Cairo, Egypt in Oct 2019.

(That's Lisa on the right in the site's banner photo, in action in Cairo.)

Will Lawrie

Assistant coach Will Lawrie has been fencing since 7th grade, coached by Derrick Hoff at St. Benedict's Prep in Newark, NJ. After some success as a foilist in high school, Will fenced at Boston College for four years, coached by Syd Fadner. He was co-captain his junior and senior year. He helped lead his team to a 1st place finish in Foil and 1st place finish for the overall team event at the New England Intercollegiate Fencing Conference Championships in 2003. His foil squad won the Silvio Vitale award (given to the best squad at the tournament).

Will is also an Elementary School Teacher and has taught in Massachusetts and Wisconsin.

Will joined the Riverside Fencing Club coaching staff in 2014.

Philosophy

Rule #1: Have fun!

Let's have fun, first and foremost. In a competitive sport, such as fencing, we cannot limit "fun" to the results we achieve; the fun must be inherent in the process of learning and mastering the discipline.

The process is one of constant challenge and improvement. Find a new way to challenge yourself, learn something to help rise to that challenge, master it, and repeat.

Along the path of improvement, perhaps not every aspect is, strictly speaking, "fun," (everyone is defeated, sometimes!) but the overall experience should be more smiles and laughter than not.

History

Founded in 2000 by Scott Tundermann as the Northampton Fencing Center, we operated in Northampton, and then South Hadley, and then Easthampton through 2006. Under Scott's leadership, the club's primary goals were to provide an outlet for primarily recreational fencing in all three weapons (foil, epee, and sabre) in the Pioneer Valley.

The club changed hands to Chris Spencer with a move back to South Hadley in 2006, and changed its name to Riverside Fencing Club. It moved to its current Hadley location in 2007. Under Chris's leadership, the focus of the club shifted to include more youth and competitive programming, still in all three weapons.

In 2008, Taro Yamashita became the head coach at Riverside, and took over as owner in 2009. Currently, Riverside strives to develop competitive fencers without losing touch with the fact that fencing is (and should be) fun. Under Taro's leadership, the club's focus has expanded to include veteran age (40+ years) athletes, but has narrowed to primarily epee instruction.

Scott, Chris, and Taro are good friends, and still share coaching ideas whenever they get together. All three are products of intercollegiate fencing, and have remained active in collegiate fencing after their competitive years.

Dianna McMenamin, who has been with the club since its days as the Northampton Fencing Center, was the first Riverside fencer to win a national title, in 2009. Julian Tyson earned a national title as a member of Riverside in 2010, and again in 2019. Both fenced for Team USA at the Veteran World Championships in the years they won national titles.

Lisa Wolf, who took an introductory course at Riverside in 2009, and is the first fencer developed entirely at Riverside to earn a spot on Team USA, as she joined Julian Tyson in 2019.

Riverside currently offers instruction in epee for fencers ages 10 to adult, from beginners to national champions.