New fencing coach values positive attitudes

Michael Ramlow became the new head coach of Detroit Mercy’s fencing team in October, after longtime coach Todd Dressell retired. The fencing team remains an important part of Detroit Mercy athletics, and is still the only sport here to win an NCAA championship. Ramlow, who said he was very excited to earn the top job, spoke with The Varsity News earlier this month about his plans for the 2023 season and beyond. Below are edited excerpts:

Where are you from? How and when did you get into fencing?

I was originally born in Pennsylvania but raised my whole life in Midland, Mich., not far from Detroit. I got into fencing roughly around my sixth-grade year, when I was influenced by my best friend. He said: ‘Our local community center has fencing, this is our chance to play with swords!’ So, I was like ‘Hell yeah.’ But fencing wasn’t really the type of sword fight that had come to our minds. I ended up finding the sport fun and just stuck with it ever since and that has been now for twenty years. A lot of high schools don’t have fencing, so you have to pay to be in fencing clubs to compete, which I did when I was younger. Most people learn fencing from these private clubs. I also happen to work with one in Michigan at Renaissance Fencing Club in Troy. I fenced at Wayne State University for my four years of eligibility, which was great. I got my bachelor’s in History then had a few jobs in between, and then got into coaching.


What expectations do you have for the team?

Our team is co-ed; we have a lot of walk-ons and they are mainly women, which is uncommon, but very cool. Most of our players are new to this sport and are still learn- ing, so for this season the expecta- tions are just growth, learning and experience. I would love for the kids to learn what a tournament is like, being supportive and how they are supposed to behave in a competition. I want them to grow in their skillset and as a team together. If we get some good results, that will be very exciting but that’s not the expec- tation as of now. So far, they have been meeting those expectations very well.


How was the process of getting hired?

I know the previous coach; he works with me at Renaissance, so he kind of gave me a foot in the door. I met with Steve Corder and had a couple of meetings and interviews with him and in a matter of time I was hired, now I’m here and couldn’t be happier.


How has your experience been here so far?

It’s great. I’m happy with all of my co-workers and the staff here at Calihan Hall has been supportive. It’s only been a few months but so far everything has been really good.


How do you plan to recruit for the future?

Recruiting is a combination of everything but I have a lot of resources that could help; knowing all the head coaches in the state of Michigan gives me advantages. There is a lot of great local talent. The fencing community is very widespread but small at the same time. There are national competitions every few months, so that’s a chance to really see some talent and exchange information.


What are some good attributes you look for in players?

Obviously talent but for the team as a whole the attitude matters, and their demeanor. I despise cockiness.


What does it take to be a good coach?

One of the things I have learned is patience; it’s such a huge factor. It provides and gives space for development and expectations for the team and for myself.