Head coach Alex Beguinet will enter his 34th season at the helm of the Duke program in 2019. Beguinet has compiled a 672-526 (.603) overall record in his 34 years with the Blue Devils and has coached two NCAA Champions.
In Beguinet’s time at Duke, the women’s program has compiled a 316-292 record under his direction and produced one three-time NCAA Champion and seven All-Americans, while the men’s program has posted a 356-234 mark with 18 All-Americans and one NCAA Champion. Beguinet has helped Blue Devil fencers reach the NCAA Fencing Championships in 33 of his 34 years while sending over 100 participants to the national championships
In 2018, the Duke fencing program sent seven student-athletes to the NCAA Fencing Championships. The Blue Devils were led by senior Pascual Di Tella and sophomore Eoin Gronningsater who captured All-America accolades in saber and foil, respectively. Di Tella concluded a stellar career in 10th while Gronningsater qualified for the second-consecutive year and placed fifth. As a team, the Blue Devils placed 10th, marking their ninth top-10 finish in the past 10 seasons. The 2018 campaign also saw the return of the ACC Fencing Championships on the campus of the University of North Carolina where the men made history by capturing the first ACC team title in program history. The Blue Devil men cruised to a 19-8 victory over the second-ranked team in the country, Notre Dame, and also defeated North Carolina (19-8) and Boston College (24-3) in route to the crown. Duke used an 8-1 advantage in epee and a 7-2 record in foil to hand defending national champion Notre Dame its first fencing loss in an ACC Championship since joining the conference in the 2014-15 season. In individual competition, Di Tella (silver), Gronningsater (silver) and junior epeeist Bryn Hammarberg (gold) all secured medals in their respective weapons. The men ended the regular season with a 23-4 overall record while the women finished 20-8.
Beguinet mentored one of the most successful fencers in NCAA history in three-time NCAA Saber Champion Becca Ward. Ward, who won the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, reached the NCAA Championship match in each of her four seasons. She won the 2009, 2011 and 2012 NCAA titles while finishing as runner-up in 2010. Beguinet also mentored 2007 Duke graduate Ibtihaj Muhammad. Muhammad, who won bronze in women’s team saber at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, was a three-time All-American and finished her college career ranked 15th nationally among senior women’s saber.
Beguinet served at US Fencing’s annual summer Junior Olympic Training Camps as a staff member for 10 years, served as coach for several International Cadet Championships and World Championships, and also participated as a coach at the fencing events for seven Olympic Festivals.
Alex Beguinet was the Director of the US Fencing Association’s coaching education program, Coaches College, from 1993 until the program was dissolved in 2011, and was a member of the education staff since the program, held annually at US Olympic Training Centers, was first implemented in 1985.
Born in Toulouse, France, Maitre Beguinet received his Master of Arms Degree from the National Sports Institute in Paris in 1976. Beguinet came to Duke after serving eight years as the head fencing coach at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.
Beguinet was the owner/director of Salle La Boessiere in Portland from 1980-84. While there, in addition to coaching for Lewis and Clark College in Portland, he coached at Portland Community College, Clark College in Vancouver, Wash., Mt. Hood Community College in Gresham, Ore., and instructed for the city of Portland’s Park Bureau.
He lives with his wife, Elizabeth, on their recently acquired abandoned farm, restoring it to working order. They have one daughter, Heather, who is a Duke alumnae.