USA Fencing Diversity, Inclusion and Equity Award to Renaissance Fencing of Troy, Michigan
Owner: Ann Marsh-Senic
Renaissance Fencing Club has a very diverse membership with students from many different cultures and backgrounds. Ensuring that all are welcome, the club has its code of conduct, which includes its policy of inclusion, posted in prominent locations. Not only do the coaches discuss strategy and technique, but also how each person is welcome. When a movie was recently filmed at the club, Renaissance Fencing Club made sure male and female athletes of a variety of backgrounds and ethnicities had the opportunity to participate. The club is also working to show its diversity by creating a video in which its members explain why they love fencing. In addition, Renaissance Fencing Club offers low cost and free trial classes, as well as scholarships, to those of economically disadvantaged backgrounds and offers donated equipment.
To make new fencers feel welcome, the more experienced fencers mentor the new fencers with athletes in the club including transgender fencers as well as fencers from a variety of racial and ethnic backgrounds. Recently, Renaissance Fencing Club initiated recruiting efforts at a nearby Chinese school to grow the sport.
The club has girls-only classes and holds gender specific, in-house competitions each month, which along with hiring a young, female coach, have greatly increased retention among female students. Since changing its approach, Renaissance Fencing Club had had a retention rate higher than 90% among females. Girls advance to higher-level classes in groups rather than individually so that they have peers in the next class and the club has successfully convinced the division to host the state youth championships as a gender-specific vent for the first time, making it more likely for girls to participate.
Founded in 1996, Renaissance Fencing Club ensures all coaches have DEI training and that its coaching staff includes a variety of backgrounds. There is an even split at Renaissance Fencing Club of male to female coaches with the last two hires being women. There also are multiple coaches who have experience working with kids with emotional and physical disabilities, successfully integrating these students into group classes.
See all five Club of Excellence Award 2021 winners here: