Coaching Staff


Referee and Coach Cheney at our annual Grand Open.

Chris CHENEY, a coach accredited by the United States Fencing Coaches Association and the Academie d’Armes Internationale, started his fencing career as a high school freshman fulfilling a homeschool PE  requirement. When his first club disbanded after losing their coach, Chris continued his training on his own by watching videos, attending camps, and competing in every tournament he could find. Despite never having had the opportunity to work with a primary coach full time, he has taken lessons and trained under some of the best in the world–including Vladimir Nazlymov, Arkady Burdan, Wes Glon, Alex Jefferies, Bill Becker, Andy Ma, Terrence Lasker, Patrick Durkan, and Jed Dupree. This diversity has given him a wide range of ideas, techniques, and tactics to meet every student where they are and give them the best chance to succeed. Chris began coaching professionally in 2011 when he was just 21, starting a club in the Nashville, TN area where his students won 5 consecutive State HS Championships, many regional events, and successfully competed at the international level by achieving top 12 rankings in the US. They have gone on to represent Notre Dame, Yale, Case Western, and WPI on their NCAA or club teams.

Besides his coaching experience, Chris spent 2 years as a Pre-K to 12th grade PE teacher in private schools in Middle Tennessee, and now brings his experience in working with youngsters to the fencing arena. Most recently, Chris was a member of the US Division 1 National Championship Men’s Saber Team in 2018 and continues to fence competitively, coach professionally, and referee at the national and NCAA level as he pursues his international referee license and Fencing Master certification. Chris’ philosophy is that every child has a place in the fencing club, bringing their unique style to our community culture that enables the kind of synergy you see only from an elite group of athletes. As a coach, he expects success from his athletes, aiming to create a mindset based on that expectation while helping the individual grow and realize their full potential both in and out of the sport. Awards and achievements include:
  • 2008 Sr Team Men’s Saber National Champion
  • 2008 Runner-up Jr Team Men’s Saber National Championship
  • 2008 Jr Men’s saber finalist
  • 2009 top 10 National Ranking, Jr Men’s saber
  • 2018 Division 1 Team Men’s Saber National Champion
  • 2014-2016 Tennessee’s best fencing club, National Fencing Club Rankings

Coach Kallio leading and encouraging all who desire to learn.

Coach Jeff KALLIO is an accredited Master d’ Sabre with the United States Fencing Coaches Association and the Academie d’Armes Internationale. Jeff began fencing in 1998 at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte fencing club. In 2000, Jeff began actively coaching at the college club as well as at other local area Charlotte fencing clubs in addition to competing at the national level. In 2005 Jeff began his professional coaching career at the Charlotte Fencing Academy, helping to establish the club as an entity in the fencing world and producing numerous national medalists and a few national champions as well as future NCAA athletes at schools like UNC-CH. Since moving to Durham in 2010, Jeff has served as our coach, manager, and youth development coordinator.

Coach Jeff’s philosophy is centered around helping facilitate personal growth for all his students through the sport by cultivating hard work and self reliance. He trains individual athletes in foil, épée, and saber as well as teaching a wide array of classes ranging from beginner through advanced.

Awards & Achievements:

  • 2018 Awarded Fencing Masters Certification (Maitre de Sabre) by United States Fencing Coaches Association
  • 2018 Cincinnati North American Cup Medalist (Gold Medal, Veteran 40 Men’s Saber)
  • 2017 & 2018 Cadet National Team Singapore Member, Leanne Chan
  • 2017 Veteran World Championship Team Member Carl Badger (Individual Bronze, Team Silver Medalist)
  • 2017 Veteran World Championship Team USA Captain (Silver Medal)
  • 2016 Veteran World Championship Team Member Carl Badger (Team Bronze Medalist)
  • 2013 World Championship Team USA Member Mia Ives Rublee (Wheelchair Women’s Foil, Wheelchair Women’s Epee)
  • 2013 Summer National Championships Medalist (8th Place finish Division1A Men’s Saber)
  • 2009 Summer National Championships Medalist (Bronze Medal, Division II Men’s Saber)

Beginning as a teen at the North Carolina Fencing Development Program, Mike NICHOLSON is the quintessential North Carolina fencer, and he loves to ‘flick’!  To watch Mike is to believe he’s the closest walking version of the legendary coach Ron Miller. Mike focuses on foil, having been an NCAA fencer at Carolina from 1996-2001, turning to assistant coaching in 2001-2005. He brings humor and love of the sport to us every Wednesday night.

Oldham coaching world-ranked Miller.

Jennifer OLDHAM has been accredited as a 3 weapon Fencing Master by the United States Fencing Coaches Association and the Academie D’Armes Internationale since 2009. She was awarded a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology from Lewis and Clark College in 2004, her undergraduate degree having come from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1996, where her fencing career began in college. Coach Jen was one of the many students produced by legendary North Carolina Coach Ron Miller who went on to develop in the sport fencing world outside the NCAA. Post-NCAA, Oldham began her coaching development at the United States Olympic Training Center under the leadership of Alex Beguinet, the Head Coach at Duke University. While training in Colorado, she met Ed Korfanty, who was just getting started in Portland, Oregon before eventually being named a Team USA National Coach while developing Olympians Zagunis and Ward. In Oregon, Oldham coached and guided many National Team Members and World Champions, playing a duel role as Korfanty’s student and assistant coach while attending graduate school and working on her thesis about the benefits of competition in fencing. Her passion for understanding how competition affects society can be observed in the intentionality of Mid-South’s programing, which supports group and individual striving within the matrix of each person’s development.  After her tenure in Oregon (and Mariel Zagunis’ first Olympic Gold!), Oldham decided to return to North Carolina to expand fencing in her home state. She partnered with a small fencing club housed at the Duke Faculty Club, led by Ned Light. While raising her children, she sought out and began to collect and build a community committed to upholding the benefits of a competitive sport program beneficial to all of North Carolina fencing. Since the founding of the Mid-South Fencers’ Club, Inc. the club has grown from 16 members to house over 150 competitive and recreational athletes.

Awards and achievements:

  • Designated USA Coach for Cadet Women’s Sabre, 1st and 2nd finishes (Bulgaria 2018)
  • USA Fencing Club of Distinction Award in Women’s Programming and Diversity (2018)
  • Head Coach to 100+ national and 7 international medal count (2006-current)
  • Ranked among “Best Fencing Clubs” within 600 USA Fencing Member clubs by the National Fencing Club Rankings (NFCR) (2015, 2016, 2017; no 2018 rankings reported)
  • Named Durham Magazine Extraordinary Woman (June/July 2013)
  • Triangle Business Journal Women in Business Award Winner (2013)
  • Triangle Mover and Shaker Business Leader Award Winner (2011)
  • United States Women’s Saber National Team Division I Champion (2000)
  • Nationally ranked Division I Women’s Saber Athlete (2000-2003)
  • Top 16 and top 32 International World Cup finishes (2000-2002)
  • Bronze United States Women’s Sabre Team World Cup Finish (ITA) 2000
  • Multi-time finalist at Open North American Cup Competitions (2000-2002)
  • Monogram Award Winner University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1994-1996)

Coach Pashby with former student Ben Lockwood, who is a leader of the Appalachian State Fencing Club today.

Stephen PASHBY started fencing with Chris Pullo at Seacoast Fencers Club in Manchester, NH, later fencing and coaching at the North Carolina State Fencing Club as well as the former Raleigh Fencer’s Club.  He is the fencing instructor at Meredith and Peace Colleges, holding a Level I Epée Certificate from the USFA Coaches College.  Stephen is a nationally certified referee in all three weapons and instructs all three weapons, though foil remains his true passion.

Mira STIRRUP is an assistant to our Academy Program. She has been teaching and leading summer camps at Bull City Farm since 2015 and joined us in 2018. At Mid-South she primarily fences saber, leads and substitutes in our youth development program, and dabbles in teaching and training with the Medieval Longsword. You may see her at the front desk, where her welcome smile greets newcomers and old-timers alike. Another interesting fact about Mira: she owns her own company called Bull City Flowers!