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Illinois Fencing Academy

Fencing at School


Located in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, Illinois Fencing Academy is a USA Fencing club focused on the individual needs of competitive, intermediate and developing fencers. Our athlete-centered and value-based philosophy provides a holistic approach to student development with the goal of fostering personal growth and athletic success. Through quality coaching, age-appropriate training and balanced focus on physical literacy, fencing skills and life skills, IFA provides students with the opportunities and multifaceted support to reach their full potential on the fencing strip and in life. Small class sizes allow for individualized attention to effectively meet students' physical, cognitive, social and emotional needs. While learning the sport of fencing, students also learn about themselves and the people around them in the positive and safe atmosphere created by the IFA coaches. 


GROWTH            HEALTH              RESPONSIBILITY             COMMUNITY            EXCELLENCE

meet the staff


Ina Harizanova


With her unique background of elite athletic achievements and education, Ina inspires her students to reach for their best in practice, school, at home, and with friends. She creates the needed environment for our students to actively engage in their own development and helps them learn from their achievements and mistakes. This process allows our young fencers to engage in critical thinking, develop resilience, build confidence, and take responsibility for their actions as well as take pride in their accomplishments on and off the strip.


  • Over 20 years of coaching in the US.

  • World Cup medalist and seven-time Bulgarian champion in modern pentathlon

  • US National team champion and individual medalist

  • Developed multiple national and international medalists.

  • Students attend prestigious universities such as Yale, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, Duke, MIT, UC - Berkeley, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue and others.

  • Serves on the Youth Development Resource Team, USA Fencing.

  • Chair of the Professional Development Committee, US Fencing Coaches Association.

  • Doctor of Clinical Psychology, Master of Education (sport concentration), Bachelor in Physical Education.

Credit Mark Hoffhines

Andrew Stencel

Coach Stencel has been fencing for 12 years. He started fencing at the Stevenson High School PREP program, where he would later attend and captain the epee squad for three years. He went on to attend the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign where he graduated with a degree in Geographic Information Science and a minor in Leadership Studies with an emphasis on coaching.


While at UIUC he was captain of the Fencing Illini epee squad for one year and the club president for two more years, leading the team to the highest club engagement and the epee team to its greatest success in a decade. It was also at UIUC Coach Stencel earned ratings in all three weapons, learned to armor, and learned to referee epee and foil. The latter two skills Coach Stencel has been asked to use at the national level.


He currently coaches epee and foil at IFA and is the epee coach at Evanston High School.

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Jakub Nowak

After bouncing from sport to sport, Jakub found his way to fencing in 2011. Following in Coach Ina's footsteps, he works to inspire young athletes to pursue their goals on and off the strip. Competitively, Jakub has found success at local, regional, and national levels, most recently grabbing 3rd place in senior team men's epee at the 2019 December North American Cup and winning the 2019 Remenyik Regional Open Circuit hosted by Northwestern University. Jakub has twice been awarded the Heber Family Commitment to Excellence Award for outstanding service and leadership ('14, '16).


Jakub graduated from Lawrence University in 2020 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in environmental studies and a biology minor. While at Lawrence, he competed with the school's NCAA fencing team, becoming captain his senior year and finishing off his collegiate career with the most individual wins in school history. 



502 W Euclid Ave, Arlington Heights IL 60004

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