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Buckie Leach, esteemed coach and leader of USA Fencing, has died.
Leach "passed away on Saturday night at the age of 62 following a motorcycle accident on a cross-country road trip after his return from the Tokyo Olympic Games," a statement from USA Fencing confirmed.
The beloved coach, who was also an assistant coach for University of Notre Dame fencing and was inducted into the U.S. Fencing Hall of Fame in 2013, led the U.S. women's foil team at the 1996 Atlanta Games, 2000 Sydney Games and 2004 Athens Games as well as the 2016 Rio and this year's Tokyo Games.
Just three weeks ago, Leach's former Notre Dame student Lee Kiefer became the first U.S. woman to earn Olympic gold in women's foil in her third Games.
Kiefer placed fourth in the women's foil team with squad members Sabrina Massialas, Nicole Ross and Jackie Dubrovich. (Massialas finished 18th, Ross finished 12th and Dubrovich 21st in the individual competition.)
Leach was also the college coach of Irishman Nick Itkin, the Olympian who earned bronze in Tokyo with the men's foil team along with Kiefer's husband and fellow Notre Dame student Gerek Meinhardt.
Itkin, who won back-to-back college titles in 2018 and 2019, finished 12th in his Olympic debut as an individual competitor while Meinhardt finished 17th.
"Our hearts are broken at the loss of U.S. Women's Foil Team coach Buckie Leach just two weeks after leading the squad at his fifth Olympic Games," Team USA Fencing shared on social media Sunday.
"It was his heart, passion and laughter that made Buckie one of the most beloved coaches in the sport. Our thoughts are with Buckie's family as well as the entire fencing community," the organization said in its tribute.
"I am devastated to learn of the tragic passing of my dear friend Buckie Leach, who was taken from us far too soon," said Irish head coach Gia Kvaratskhelia in a statement shared by the university.
"Buckie's legacy at Notre Dame and within American fencing stretch far beyond the athletic accomplishments of the fencers and teams that he coached. Rather, his enduring memory will be of the incredible person that he was – his kindness, his passion, his sense of humor, and the genuine way he brightened the lives of everyone who was fortunate enough to know him," Kvaratskhelia concluded.
"The Notre Dame Fencing Family is heartbroken over the tragic passing of Buckie Leach," the team shared 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, a native of Mt. Sinai, New York, is survived by his sister Kathy.