Meet Our Coaches

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2011 'Coach of the Year' Honor

2010 'Outstanding Coach' Award

2008 U.S. National Foil Champion

2005 North American Cup Finalist

Robert C. Piraino

Head Coach (Foil & Épée)

     Coach Piraino has been involved in fencing for two decades, and has played the role of athlete, referee, coordinator and coach.  He began fencing on his high school's varsity team in New York State where he earned several championship titles and honors.  He continued his career as an athlete at The Ohio State University, where he was recognized as a Scholar Athlete and member of the very first Midwest Conference Championship Team.  During his time at OSU, Robert was able to train with one of the world's most celebrated Fencing Masters, Vladimir Nazlymov.  

     Robert took over the fencing program at Great Neck South HS where he coached the men's and women's teams to numerous championship titles, and earned several 'Coach of the Year' honors.  Coach Piraino is a nationally rated fencer and referee in all three weapons, and holds an 'A17' rating in Epee, the highest national rating available.  As well as earning the Gold Medal in Foil at the 2008 US National Championships, he was a finalist in Epee at the 2005 North American Cup, and a 5-time Empire State Games Medalist.  His most notable accomplishment as a coach was having one of his students earn a National Finalist Medal at the 2017 US National Championships.  Robert has also coached dozens of athletes to the Junior Olympics and US National Championships, as well as having countless students earn National Ratings.  

     Coach Piraino also serves as the Chairman for the Tennessee Division of USA Fencing, Coordinator for the TN State High School Fencing League, and is a member of the U.S. Fencing Coaches Assoc..  He also holds a Safe Sport Certification with the U.S. Olympic Committee.   


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Eric Howard

Asst. Coach (Foil)

     Eric is an accomplished fencer and coach, having ran the Vanderbilt University Fencing Club for 16 seasons.  During this time, Coach Howard restored the program to dominance, creating one of the strongest club teams in the Nation.  His athletes have successfully competed at the Jr. Olympics and the U.S. National Championships. He has also attended the U.S. Fencing Coaches Association's Coaches College. 


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Robert Szokolay

Assistant Coach (Épée)

     Robert began fencing 40 years ago while at Wayne State University, where studied under Hungarian Fencing Master and Hall of Fame Coach, Istvan Danosi.  He was a Varsity letter winner on the 1977 and 1978 teams, and went on to win the Georgia State Games in Men's Epee.  Coach Szokolay is eager to share his decades of fencing knowledge with our athletes and help groom our next generation of champions. 


Joseph Oliverius

Assistant Coach (Épée)

     Joseph has been fencing for nearly 15 years, and is a seasoned competitor holding national ratings in all three weapons.  After wrestling in high school, Joe began fencing while in college at Ole Miss under Coach John "Doc" Mathews.  He began training with Coach Doug Harris after returning to Tennessee, and found success on the regional circuit, earning an 'A' rating in Épée just three years into his fencing career.  Joseph spent a few seasons training with Marshall Hibnes at the famed Salle Auriol in Seattle, before again returning back to Tennessee.  Coach Oliverius is currently the Head Coach for the fencing club at Tennessee Tech University in Cookeville, TN, and oversees the strength & conditioning program in our Level III Classes.  


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Jessica McHugh

Asst. Coach (Foil)

     Jess began fencing for her high school team in New Jersey, and continued throughout college, fencing for the club team at Rutgers University.  She assists with our Level I and Jr. Fencers Classes, as well as our Fast Start Orientations, and is available for private lessons for beginner foil fencers.