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Former Irish assistant fencing coach Anthony ‘Buckie’ Leach dies at 62

| Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Former Notre Dame fencing assistant coach Anthony “Buckie” Leach died Saturday at 62, USA Fencing reported Monday. Leach had been with the Irish since the 2016-17 season. During his time with the program, the Irish had won three ACC championships and national titles and featured 20 All-Americans. 

Leach died Saturday night following a motorcycle accident on a cross-country road trip.

This year, Leach coached Notre Dame senior Stefani Deschner and sophomore Marcello Olivares to individual foil championships and helped the team capture its 11th national title. Prior to this season, Leach mentored Lee Kiefer to her fourth individual title in 2017 and helped Nick Itkin win his first two titles in 2018 and 2019. 

In addition to his accomplishments with Notre Dame, he was also an accomplished coach on the international and club levels. 

Leach led the women’s foil team at the recent Tokyo Olympics, where he helped former Irish fencer Kiefer become the first American gold medalist in the women’s individual foil. The squad narrowly missed the podium in the team event, placing fourth. This year’s Olympic games were Leach’s fifth at the helm, having previously led the women’s foil program in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2016. During his tenure, the women’s foil program had won 11 individual and 6 team medals. 

Under his guidance, the program had its most successful four-season stint in history from 2017 to 2021, medaling in three consecutive senior world championships, including gold in 2018. 

At the club level, he led the Rochester Fencing Club from 1981 to 2001, before moving to New York’s Fencers Club, where he mentored numerous future Olympians. 

Leach was inducted into the Fencing Hall of Fame in 2013. He earned his fencing master’s certificate at the American Fencing academy in 1979. 

“The Notre Dame Fencing Family is heartbroken over the tragic passing of Buckie Leach,” the team wrote in a statement. “Buckie was our coach for five wonderful seasons. In that short time, he helped us win three NCAA team titles, three ACC team titles, five individual NCAA championships, and 20 All-Americans. But more important than all of these was how Buckie gave so richly and deeply of himself as a teacher, a coach, a leader, and a person. Every day he was with us, his kindness, decency, and humanity made us all better.”

Leach is survived by his sister, Kathy. 

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