Duke fencing head coach Alex Beguinet to retire

Beguinet led the Blue Devils for 38 years.

<p>Head coach Alex Beguinet (left) poses with his team after finishing third in the 2021 NCAA Championships.</p>

Head coach Alex Beguinet (left) poses with his team after finishing third in the 2021 NCAA Championships.

After 38 seasons leading the Blue Devils into battle, Duke head coach Alex Beguinet is hanging up his sword for the last time.

Beguinet has announced his retirement, per a team release Monday afternoon. He has spent the past 38 years at the helm for the Blue Devils alongside his wife and recruiting director, Elizabeth, who died in December 2022 after a fight with cancer. 

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to represent Duke University for the past 38 years,” Beguinet said in Monday’s release. “The memories I have made and the relationships I have built are ones I will forever cherish. As time has passed and Duke and college athletics have changed, the one constant has been the quality of people I have been fortunate enough to be surrounded by throughout my Duke career.”

Collecting 813 wins across his tenure, Beguinet coached two NCAA champions, led the men’s team to its first ACC title in program history in 2018 and helped both the men and women capture the honor in 2021. Twenty-one female fencers and 42 of the men have earned All-America honors. 

Under Beguinet’s guidance, the Blue Devils reached the NCAA Championships in 37 of his 38 years at the helm, boasting over 100 participants wearing Duke blue.

His greatest success story came in his tutelage of three-time NCAA saber champion Becca Ward, who went to the national championship match all four years and went on to win the bronze medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. He is also responsible for mentoring Ibtihaj Muhammad, a three-time All-American who finished her collegiate career ranked 15th in the nation. She also went on to Olympic glory, earning bronze in the women’s team saber at the 2016 games in Rio de Janeiro.

“Alex's accomplishments throughout his 38 years at Duke are many, but what is most important, is that every single day he led with class and integrity,” said athletic director Nina King. “We will miss his infectious smile, quiet wisdom, incredible enthusiasm, and his amazing ability to build by hand anything and everything that was needed. We wish Alex all the best in a well-deserved retirement!”

Saying goodbye to coaching after nearly 50 years in the game, Beguinet retires with a 388-324 record with the women and a 425-260 record with the men. A replacement for the storied leader of the Blue Devil fencing program has yet to be announced.

“To each student-athlete I have had the opportunity to coach over the past three-plus decades, you have made me a better coach and a better person in countless ways,” Beguinet said. “Thank you for bringing energy and keeping me young all these years. It has been amazing to watch each of you grow from 18-year-olds walking onto campus for the first time to college graduates embarking on careers and becoming parents of your own. 

“To every staff member I have crossed paths with, a thank you is not enough, but thank you! To the broader fencing community and Duke community alike, thank you for caring for our sport, myself and my family. Elizabeth, my wife, and I were so proud to forge this wonderful program with Duke. On behalf of Elizabeth and I, sincerely, thank you for the last 38 seasons."

Mackenzie Sheehy profile
Mackenzie Sheehy | Blue Zone editor

Mackenzie Sheehy is a Trinity sophomore and Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.


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