July 16, 2009

Harutunian Inducted Into U.S. Fencing Hall Of Fame

Numerous Yale Supporters Honor Legendary Coach

DALLAS, Texas - During a formal ceremony at the 2009 U.S. National Fencing Championships, legendary Yale coach Henry Harutunian was inducted into the U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame. A large crowd was on hand to witness Harutunian's induction, including dozens of past and current Olympians, nearly 150 active fencers, U.S. fencing officials and a vocal and enthusiastic group of more than a dozen Yale fencers and family.

Among the luminaries attending were the leading U.S. fencing family - the Jacobsons, including Olympic medalists Sada (Yale '06) and her sister Emily (Columbia '08), along with their father David (Yale '74) who represented the U.S. at the 1974 World Championships. Yale alum Steve Blum ('74) served as Harutunian's presenter for enshrinement.

Harutunian's induction recognizes that few if any U.S. coaches in the past half-century have done more to advance U.S. fencing. In addition to coaching members of three of the past four U.S. Olympic teams, Harutunian has repeatedly developed and coached NCAA championship individuals and teams.

Harutunian has guided the Yale men's and women's teams to nearly 600 combined wins. He has produced numerous All-Americans and an NCAA men's foil and women's sabre champion during his tenure. Remarkably, a number of those honored had never touched a weapon before coming to Yale. The men captured the NCAA sabre title in 1994, while the women have won three national titles (1982, 1984, 1985).

Harutunian, the 1996-97 USFCA Coach of the Year, had a distinguished career as a fencer and coach in his native Armenia. He was named eminent coach of the Republic of Armenia in 1963, while serving on the coaching staff for the Soviet national team from 1962-1966.

One of his pupils made the U.S.S.R. Olympic team in 1956 and went on to become the first Soviet to claim the individual epee title at the Junior World Championships in 1958. Harutunian came to the United States in 1966 and coached at Brandeis for three years prior to joining the Yale staff.

Before long, Harutunian had joined the U.S. coaching elite. He began working with the American national team in 1977, and in 1984, he served as one of three U.S. Olympic coaches. He also coached the Americans in the 1979 and 1983 Pan American Games and in the 1979, 1981, 1983, 1991 and 1993 World University Games.

Harutunian was named Coach of the Year by the National Intercollegiate Women's Fencing Association in 1982 and by the IWFA in 1984 and 1985 at the NCAA Championships. In 1986, the U.S. Men's Fencing Coaches Association selected him Coach of the Year.

He has also choreographed stage fencing for both theater and the screen, and has acted in films. Harutunian's philosophy of fencing is guided by the following passage from The Works of Moliere: "The eyes which watch and warn, the brain which evaluates and decides, the hand which executes the decision must harmonize precision and speed to give real life to the sword."

Harutunian, who will begin his 40th year at Yale this fall, continues an amazing 85-year stretch during which Yale fencing has been led by just three coaches from two families.

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