About the Coaches

Drew Page
Founder, Former Head Coach & Former Executive Director, Hall of Fame Fencer, Medieval Swordplay Consultant, Latin Battle Scholars

In 2004 Drew Page founded Western Swordsmanship Technique and Research (WSTR), a group dedicated to translating old texts regarding ancient western swordsmanship techniques. In 2006 he met Steve Martin who introduced him to Sports Fencing. Drew quickly became enthused about Fencing and wanted to do more of it but there were very few fencing clubs in CT. So Drew did the Drew Page thing to do and started his own fencing club. Thus in 2006 Sword in the Scroll Fencing Academy was born. At first the fencing community in CT was skeptical of a man with no fencing experience starting his own club but with Steve Martin by his side Drew ravenously learned everything about fencing. Within just a few years he was medaling at local tournaments and his students were medaling at the CT State High School Championships. Earning multiple medals including three consecutive Gold Medals in Women’s Epee.

Drew wanted to promote and expand the sport of fencing, particularly to families with limited economic means. To this end he kept pricing as low as possible and reinvested every penny back into the club. SITS was truly a labor of love for him. As the years passed his passion and enthusiasm attracted like minded people and other coaches began to join him and Steve, volunteering their time and skills. In 2015 Drew decided to transition SITS into a fully volunteer run 501c3 nonprofit organization led by a Board of Directors with Drew holding the position of Executive Director.

Sadly Drew Page passed on in 2022, but what he left behind was a legacy. He laid the groundwork for what SITS is today and has influenced what it will become as the people he inspired continue to build upon that foundation.

 

Shane Belliveau
Executive Director & Epee Coach

Shane was introduced to fencing for the first time when he walked into Sword in the Scroll Fencing Academy for his son Raven’s first lesson in 2013. He instantly fell in love with both the sport and the rich diverse community that was SITS. His son Sparrow began fencing in 2013. As a parent Shane was very involved and helped at the club as much as possible. In 2016 he began fencing at SITS himself and in 2017 he became an officer on the SITS Board of Directors.

Shane has been fencing competitively since 2017. In 2018 he began strip coaching under the tutelage of former Sword in the Scroll Head Coach and Executive Director Drew Page. It wasn’t long before he was the leading strip coach at SITS, accompanying fencers to local, Regional and National tournaments as well as assistant coaching at the club.
In 2020 he became a leading coach at SITS and in 2022 he took over for Drew Page as the Executive Director of Sword in the Scroll Fencing Academy.

Shane’s two sons opened the door to fencing for him and Drew’s passion and commitment to the sport inspired him to become a coach at SITS. Drew Page was a dear friend and a mentor to Shane and he learned from him not only the skills of the sport but the love of the game as well.

As Executive Director Shane is committed to expanding the sport of fencing to include athletes of all socioeconomic backgrounds as well as teaching and maintaining good sportsmanship, promoting mentorship, and preserving the gentlemanly qualities of the game.

 

Steve Martin
Épée Coach

Steve began fencing as a freshman in college during the spring of 1978 in California. He attended a sabre class taught by Fencing Master Edwin K. (Buzz) Hurst II. By the next year Steve began training with the épée rather than sabre due partly to his ectomorphic frame (he is 6’5” tall) and partly due to the encouragement of his identical twin brother. The twins studied epee under the coaching of Muriel Bower (Author of Foil Fencing) and fenced on the university’s NCAA fencing team until graduation. After moving to Connecticut, Steve joined the UCONN Fencing Club in the late 80’s and after a year or two became the coach of that club and taught the university’s fencing classes working in all three weapons until 1993 (when his own twins were born).

After a fencing hiatus, Steve joined a class studying two-handed German longsword swordplay in 2004. This class was run by Drew Page and Ken Johnson. Drew and Ken encouraged Steve to coach an offshoot class of sport fencing which was initially held in a church community room in 2006. This marked the birth of the Sword in the Scroll Fencing Academy, and Steve has been teaching (mostly épée students) ever since.

Steve endorses fencing because he believes it is a comparatively injury-free, “lifetime” sport that can be enjoyed by athletes of all ages. Fencing does not rely entirely on speed and strength but more heavily on tactics. Once the body has been trained in the fundamental moves then the mind can be freed up to analyze the action. And, so, fencing is sometimes referred to as “physical chess” meaning the fencer can plan several moves ahead, but also change tactics based on the countermoves of the opponent.

Steve’s training tends to rely on repetition of the historically proper execution of one discrete skill at a time so that effective actions can become automatic. But he also encourages his students to learn a wide variety of these skills as their fencing matures so that as one tactic begins to fail, they will be able to switch to another. Eventually the competitor’s internal monologue might sound something like: “What is my opponent doing? What can I do to defeat it? How good am I at executing that solution? and “What else can I do?” But win or lose, Steve encourages his students to compete with grace and composure observing all the niceties of the sport that is grounded in a tradition of decorum.

 

Jonathan Ferris
Right of Way Weapon Coach

Jonathan began fencing in 1992. Under the instruction of Yuri Rabinovich Jonathan began learning foil. After only 1 year of fencing, Jonathan attended the Junior Olympics and fell in love with fencing. Jonathan continued to fence foil for one more year earning a C eventually. After that, he switched to saber and focused on that weapon from then through college.

Jonathan continued to train with Yuri multiple times a week, attending practice at the local fencing club, Fencing Academy of Michigan, and competing weekly in both local and national tournaments. After a successful individual fencing career primarily in saber, Jonathan received a full athletic scholarship to Wayne State University. When Jonathan was 20, Yuri passed and training was taken over by Jersy Ratz, head coach at Wayne State University. His senior year, Jonathan was named captain of the team and graduated with a BA in psychology.

In 2004, Jonathan was accepted to University of Connecticut for a graduate degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and continued to train intermittently with the UConn Fencing Club. After receiving a terminal master’s degree in 2006, Jonathan attended Eastern Connecticut State University and began to pursue a degree in secondary social studies education. During this time he was introduced to a fencing club just being developed – Sword in the Scroll Fencing Academy. After attending a few classes, he was asked to become the saber and right-of-way coach and help develop that program. Jonathan has continued to coach at SITS as a 3-weapon coach since then.

Because of this time, he was invited to become the head coach at UConn. Under this direction, the club expanded its program and began competing almost weekly with schools all along the eastern coast, from Florida to Vermont. Before Jonathan retired from this position, the club attended the national club championships, a major accomplishment for the little club and evidence of its growth.

 

Mabel Saccommano
Coach

Hello! My name is Mabel and I’ve been a proud SITS fencer since 2015. Originally beginning as a student of fencing during my freshman year of high school, I embarked on my coaching journey around a year and a half later, starting as an assistant coach for the youth class. Under the tutelage of Coach Drew, I learned the ins and outs of both fencing and fencing instruction. Over time, I took on a more leadership position in the youth class and began experimenting with various pedagogical theories and approaches. As a youth coach, I honed my skills as a teacher and worked to develop my scaffolding techniques, pacing strategies, and creative interventions. I concurrently fenced competitively on the high school team and participated in our weekly classes where I watched and learned from our many fantastic coaches. During this time, my coaching philosophy was heavily informed by these various, collected experiences and I still reference these moments of great learning and growth to this day.

I now teach as an assistant coach for the youth class on Saturday mornings and as a lead coach for the Monday night adult class. Over the years, as I have continued developing and distilling down my coaching style, focusing on integrating the cerebral aspect of game with the physical. My Monday night lessons emphasize the development of muscle memory, mindful fencing, and critical thinking on the strip, and I employ structured units as a way of encouraging fencers to see the many patterns connections that lie beneath the complex sport of fencing. I also encourage my fencers to deeply engage with the question of “why,” a goal I reiterate during our weekly “board times.” I think asking and answering this crucial question yields fencers that are substantially more aware, thoughtful, and self-sufficient on the strip. In addition to question-based discussions, my preferred coaching techniques also include peer review, strategic limitation, and the use of odd props. I’ve found that the drills I teach become significantly more enjoyable when movement resembles play, and you will frequently find me with a juggling ball, red Solo cup, or pool noodle in hand. My hope is that, through these various alternative methods and my occasionally nonsensical class discussions, my students are, over time, able to fence smarter, move more fluidly, think critically, and truly realize how much potential they have both on and off the strip.

You learn more from losing than winning.

— Morgan Bayard Wootten

SITS is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.