Today we’d like to introduce you to Emilia Ivanova.

Hi Emilia, it’s an honor to have you on the platform. Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us – to start maybe you can share some of your backstory with our readers?
I am the Head coach at Heartland Fencing Academy in Overland Park, KS. I started the academy in 2007, and since then we have been teaching the Olympic sport of fencing to students of all ages and skill levels.

We are proud of our success and ability to introduce fencing to many students in the Greater Kansas City metro area.

I graduated from the National Sports Academy “Vasil Levski” in Sofia, Bulgaria, with two majors in Physical Therapy (Kinesitherapy) and Physical Education.

After competing and fencing nationally and internationally for 17 years, I decided to put my time and skills into my passion for teaching fencing. As a fencer, I was seven times National Foil champion and Silver medalist at the European Championship. Initially, I was working with the Juniors program in my club, but after four years I was selected to work with the Bulgarian National Foil Team.

Some of our biggest successes were Top 8 at the World Championship in Netherlands 1994, and two of my female foil fencers qualified for the Olympic Games in Atlanta 1996. This was the first time in the long history of Bulgarian fencing when two female Foil fencers qualified for the Olympic games.

In the Summer of 2000, I moved to the USA, and since then, I have been coaching here. I have also refereed for many years at the National and NCAA Fencing Championships.

I am proud to say that Heartland Fencing Academy is well known nationally and our students are holders of many Regional, North American Cup, Junior Olympics, the USFA Summer National Championship, and competed at World Cup in Europe. Many of our fencers have earned scholarships to prestigious schools such as Princeton, Harvard, Stanford, Ohio State, UPenn, Wayne State, Cleveland State, where they continue to fence.

HFA fencers are NCAA and Ivy League Fencing Champions.

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It is neither easy nor smooth to move to a new country with a new language and culture. In the beginning, the challenge was to adjust to the new place that I was going to work and live. Later on, when I open the Heartland Fencing Academy came to the challenge to deal with the business side of it. Nowadays, we are learning how to survive and thrive in the difficult time we all are leaving. Despite all the challenges, I consider myself lucky to have so much support from my family, friends, and the USA fencing community.

We’ve been impressed with Heartland Fencing Academy, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
During my long fencing career as a competitor and a coach, I have learned many valuable lessons that I carry through life with me. The most important is that when you work hard, be motivated, and passionate about what you do, you can achieve a lot. Fencing is a highly competitive and complex sport that you must be able to make a quick decision under pressure during the competition. Learning to deal with success and failure taught me humility and appreciation of all I have experience.