Kristin Vines Named 2021 High School Coach of the Year

2020-21 USA Fencing High School Coach of the Year Kristin Vines.

(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – USA Fencing is pleased to announce Kristin Vines (Chattanooga, Tenn.), head coach of the fencing programs at Baylor School, as the High School Coach of the Year for the 2020-21 season.

Although the competitive season was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Vines showed exemplary leadership and ability to motivate her team in an incredibly difficult season, with the team continuing to practice throughout the 2020-21 school year.

“I am amazed and humbled that my team nominated me for this honor, especially after the trials of our last year,” Vines said. “I am honestly amazed by the incredible work this team does and I am truly proud to be their coach.”

A four-time Vet World Team member who started teaching at Baylor School in 1990, Vines was nominated by sophomore Sophia Baleeiro (Chattanooga, Tenn.)

With Vines at the helm, Baylor School has become one of the top high school fencing programs in the Southeast and has a history of incredible success, winning the On Guard High School Fencing League Championship every year since joining the league in 2017.

Teaching high school students in foil and epee, students returned to campus in August of 2020 after quarantining at home since March of 2020. Vines’ motto this season was “ludere causa ludendi,” which means “to play for the sake of playing,” and she found creative ways to keep morale high during the pandemic. While students were quarantining across the globe, she kept the team connected virtually and her students enjoyed sending pictures back and forth of where they were and what they were doing.

Vines also organized an intramural tournament in late spring to motivate her students.

“Everyone on the team came back after quarantine, ready to get back to work, because of our coach,” Baleeiro said. “Going to fencing every single day after school has kept me going during the year full of disappointments and I’m so grateful for my coach.”

The long-time fencer who started the sport at Hollings College is known for focusing on each individual, creating a program based on improvement and having fun, rather than medals and ratings. Vines offered individual lessons multiple times per week to give as many one-on-one opportunities as possible.

“To see them try a new, non-traditional sport and to see the spark of delight ignite in them, leading them to push themselves to achieve, that is what keeps me coming back to the gym each day,” Vines said.

As a result, Vines’ students saw great improvement throughout the season. Athletes who started as freshman with no fencing experience have been able to rival the senior captains in their flicks by the end of their high school careers due to Vines’ coaching.

Vines also goes above and beyond her coaching duties, teaching her students life lessons that apply beyond the fencing strip. Encouraging her students, she ensures they know that just because they might lose at the very beginning to more experienced fencers, that doesn’t mean they won’t go on to greater success, and that no one becomes good at something overnight.

To view past High School Coach of the Year recipients, click here.