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The Commercial Appeal (Memphis, Tennessee)


Before the Kroeker-Petrosyan Fencing Center opened on the Memphis University School campus, the fencing team had to transport and set up their equipment for each practice in Todd-Snowden Gymnasium or the Dining Hall. The new 4,100-square-foot center, located on the lower level of the McCaughan Science Center, features eight grounded metal fencing strips with international-caliber scoring equipment suspended from the ceiling, storage space for the team's gear, and even a flat-screen TV - typically playing fencing competitions.

"We are no longer nomads," junior Jacob Webb said during a dedication ceremony Feb. 28. "We can now concentrate on winning more championships."

Coach Brad Kroeker, who has been coaching the MUS varsity team for eight years and the club team since 2004, said the center is unequaled in the Mid-South, noting that it was a hot topic among high school coaches at the recent Junior National Fencing Championships in Kansas City. Comparable facilities are as far away as Stanford University, he said. "We are truly in a class with the best!"

The center was made possible through the generosity of Bita and Jim Webb and their son, Jacob, a fencer since seventh grade.

"After I attended the first fencing practice, I knew I had found a sport that fit me, and now I look forward to fencing in college and beyond," Jacob said.

MUS has been a leader in fencing in Tennessee, capturing four consecutive state titles (2012-2015). By hosting local and regional tournaments at the center, Kroeker said, MUS will help elevate the sport throughout the region.

At the dedication, Headmaster Ellis Haguewood thanked the Webbs for underwriting the project and naming the center in honor of Kroeker and Coach Sergey Petrosyan. "I have the very greatest admiration and respect for these men professionally and personally. They understand the mission of MUS and the place of their sport in supporting that mission. They have an excellent knowledge of the sport, and they are influential in the lives of their students each day."

Haguewood thanked Brett Grinder (MUS Class of 1991), chairman of the Building and Grounds Committee of the Board of Trustees, and the work of his construction company, Grinder, Taber & Grinder. "Project manager Jonathan Hastings and his team have done a superb job of transforming this area into a first-rate fencing center," he said.

In his closing remarks, Jacob Webb expressed appreciation to the coaches for their encouragement and instruction, not only in fencing but also in character development. "They say, 'Fence as hard as you are able on the strip to win, but leave any animosity behind when the match is over,'" he said.

"My greatest hope is that this world-class fencing facility will be enjoyed by many future classes so they can benefit from the gifts I have been blessed with from MUS and our fine fencing coaches."

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March 14, 2017


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