Nikki Franke retiring as Temple fencing coach

After 50 years at the helm, Nikki Franke is handing Temple fencing over to former national champion fencer Jenni Salmon.

After five decades of coaching, Temple announced Nikki Franke’s retirement from its fencing team Monday evening. | Javon Edmonds / The Temple News

After five decades of coaching, Temple announced Nikki Franke’s retirement from its fencing team Monday evening. Franke has coached the program since its first varsity season in 1972. Jennie Salmon, a national champion while at Temple in 1992, will take over as Temple’s new coach after spending the past four years at Brandeis University. 

“I have enjoyed every minute of my time at Temple coaching so many amazing young women,” Franke said. “It has never felt like work, more a labor of love.”  

Franke came to Temple after graduating from Brooklyn College where she was a National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association (NIWFA) All-American fencer. Franke continued to fence after graduating, winning a silver medal in the 1975 Pan-American games, bronze in the 1979 games, United States Fencing Association (USFA) championships in 1975 and 1980, and competing for Team U.S.A. in the 1976 and 1980 Olympics. 

As a coach, Franke led Temple to 898 wins, 26 consecutive National Intercollegiate Women’s Fencing Association Championships and the 1992 NCAA Championship.

“I have truly been blessed to have had the opportunity to do something I deeply love for my entire adult life,” Franke said.  

Salmon, the co-founder of the Mission Fencing Club, coached both the men’s and women’s fencing teams at Brandeis. During her tenure at Brandeis, four of Salmon’s players qualified for NCAA Championship tournaments, while three were named Division III All-Americans.  

“This is truly a dream come true, to return to my alma mater and succeed my former coach, mentor and great friend Nikki Franke,” Salmon said. “She is the reason I went into coaching. I aspire to live up to the high standard of success that she has instilled in the program.” 

Franke hand-picked Salmon to succeed her, according to Temple Athletic Director Arthur Johnson. Johnson, who admitted he did not know enough about fencing to conduct the coaching search alone, asked Franke to assist him.

“I tried to talk her out of [retirement],” Johnson said. “I didn’t know enough about fencing and I said to her, ‘well, you gotta find us a replacement.’”

Temple fencing will begin its first-ever season without Nikki Franke this fall. The schedule has not yet been announced. 

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