March 25, 2012 (Columbus, Ohio)—The Ohio State University Fencing Team won its third NCAA National Fencing Championship today under the leadership of Coach Vladimir Nazlymov. Coach Nazylmov is himself a three-time Olympic gold medalist. The event was hosted at Ohio State, so Nancy and I were able to attend the final day along with our daughter Holly, who was a co-captain of the 2008 NCAA National Championship Team (see earlier blog posts about Holly's collegiate fencing career).
Coach Vladimir Nazlymov's invited us to the Varsity Club afterwards for the celebration with the coaches, team members, team alums, parents, OSU event staff and the ESPN crew who covered the event live on ESPN3.
Figure 1 - (Left to right) 2012 Ohio State NCAA Fencing National Champion Coach Vladimir Nazlymov, 2008 Ohio State NCAA National Team Champion Holly McKibben, mother Nancy McKibben and father Michael McKibben, Chairman and Founder of Leader Technologies, in attendance at the post-championship party at the Varsity Club across from St. John's arena on March 25, 2012.
|Figure 2 - The official 1980 Moscow Summer Olympic LP Album produced by A. Pakhmutova.|
|Figure 3 - EP (2 songs on 33 RPM vinyl) produced by Melodiya records containing the two Living Sound arrangements of A. Pakhmutova's songs and Nancy McKibben's English lyrics. I negotiated this deal with Melodiya and VAAP, the copyright agency; they paid us $5,000 USD. Total units distributed in the USSR were at least 200,000 and maybe up to 1 million, although 200,000 has been verified so far. Pakhmutova chose the sunlight breaking through the clouds cover art. We did not know it had been produced and distributed until years later.|
|Figure 4 - Living Sound Team IV on Soviet TV, July 21, 1981|
Call it what you will, coincidence, kizmet, chance or Providence (my choice), but Coach Vladimir, Nancy and I have something in common. Coach earned his most recent Olympic Gold Medal at the Moscow Summer Olympics in 1980. Nancy and I lived in the United Kingdom at the time and I ran the European operations for a Gospel music organization called "Living Sound." I was a civil engineering graduate and a professional musician (including four years with The Ohio State University Marching Band).
How we arrived at this conjunction in time and space in Moscow is a hair-raising story right out of a Tom Clancy novel. It involves the self-sacrifice of very brave human beings including Jon, Anne, Herbert, Ulla, Mae, Tanu, Oleg, Uno, Juri and their friends from an Estonian music group named "Sela;" as well as brave "dissidents" both religious and secular.
On Nov. 2, 1979, we arrived in Moscow about 2/3rds of the way through our month-long trip. Around midnight we received a call at our hotel that musicians heard we were in town and wanted to jam with us. So having shed our Intourist guide/watcher for the evening, we drove to the "Pravda House of Culture" to jam with Moscow musicians. Rock musician Alexander Gradsky had brought along Aleksandra Pakhmutova. This was seven months before the summer Olympics and the state security apparatus was in high gear; but for this night, they were sleeping.
We jammed all-night with the rock group "Time Machine" (led by Andrey Makarevich). The next morning Intourist hauled our road managers in for an interrogation of sorts and informed us they intended to change our itinerary. Truth be told, we were monitored closely by our guide Igor and others. When we had tried several weeks earlier to sing at a Georgian Orthodox Christian seminary outside Tiblisi, the authorities threatened to kick us out, but didn't. Remarkably, they did not stop us from singing at Tiblisi Baptist Church; and they did not stop our jams with hotel musicians.
When the musicians in Moscow heard that we were now stranded for another night, they organized a second night of jamming, this time with the insanely talented jazz group "Arsenal" (directed by saxophonist Alexi Koslov).
During those sessions we talked about our music, our travels and our lives as Christian young people. We were very open about our thoughts and beliefs (too open for the KGB who threatened all of our brave musician friends mentioned above; imprisoning several of them as "parasites"). The KGB notwithstanding, our nearly 400-strong audiences on these nights loved it! We were told that many of the USSR's "cultural elite" attended.
Unbeknownst to us at the time, Pakhmutova had been selected to compose the music for the 1980 Moscow Olympics. Following the Arsenal jam session near sun-up the second night, she asked us if we would consider arranging her music in our "upbeat" Gospel style. Pakhmutova's exuberance is contagious; we could only say yes. We recorded several of her more popular songs titled "We Can't Live Without Each Other" (Drug Byez Druga) and "Childhood Dreams" (honoring Cosmonaut Juri Gagarin). Nancy wrote the English lyrics. (Here's a YouTube of the Juri Gagarin song that Pakhmutova asked us to rearrange). Melodiya Records, the State record company, purchased them and distributed some 200,000 copies in kiosks nationwide after the Olympics. Two of our songs were placed on the official 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics film for which Pakhmutova was composer and producer!
We traveled back after that to perform on Soviet TV on Jul. 23, 1981 which was produced by Yevgeny Ginzburg and organized by Juri Filinov, music editor for Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper (translated "Communist Union of Youth Truth")—perhaps the only Gospel music group ever to do that in the former Soviet Union. See Fig. 4.
We were then invited by music promoter Stas Namin to play at his rock music festival in Yerevan, Armenia — Yerevan-81. However, that plan was cancelled inexplicably by the authorities at the last moment—only after we had flown in all our musicians to London for last-minute rehearsals. See Stas's website for an explanation—31 years later ("foreign participants being barred in toto")! We were a casualty of Cold War "roadblocks." See Eric Amfiteatrov. "Soviet Union: Tired? Nyet!" Time, Oct. 12, 1981.
In 1990 the single-party, militantly atheist Soviet police state collapsed. Our friends Herbert and Juri were eventually released from prison for their so-called "anti-Soviet activity" and alleged "mental instability" (disagreeing with the authorities; recording and promoting Gospel music; translating for us; and being honest people). Herbert now owns a Tex-Mex restaurant in Tallinn, Estonia named "Texas Honky Tonk & Cantina." Visit him and drinks on the McKibbens!
Therein is our connection with Coach Vladimir Nazlymov— we're all three on the official 1980 Moscow Olympics Gold Medalist Film; him the athlete, us the music!!! Our daughter Holly brought us back together! Click here to visit Pakhmutova's site containing links to our songs.
Figure 5 - Ohio State University Fencing's Steelwood Gym which sports a new "Wall of Honor" depicting Ohio State's long fencing tradition, and honors individual and team national champions, including our daughter Holly McKibben who was a foil fencer and co-captain on the 2008 NCAA National Championship Team. We were very proud to see Holly's photo on the wall more than once, including the photos at the White House with President George Bush. In the team photo about our heads, Holly is easy to pick out because she has a white towel around her neck.
Figure 6 - Part of The Ohio State University's Steelwood Fencing Gym's Wall of Honor. The photo in the center is the 2008 NCAA National Championship Team, including our daughter Holly McKibben, taken with President George Bush. This "Wall of Honor" photo was taken Mar. 27, 2012 just hours before the team won the 2012 NCAA Fencing National Championship. Go Bucks!
Holly McKibben graduates Ohio State with Honors
STOP THE PRESSES! Columbus (June 21, 2010)—With the ink still drying on her Ohio State nursing diploma, our daughter, Holly McKibben, sat for the Ohio Board of Nursing Examination on Saturday, June 19, 2010. Against the advice of her academic advisors to wait, Holly attacked the challenge with a parry riposte, and learned today that she passed; receiving her Registered Nurse Certification No. 360744. Just like that Holly enters the professional ranks with her customary flourish.
- Four-year OSU Scholar Athlete
- Three-year Academic All-Big Ten
- Four-year OSU Fencing Team, Women's Foil
- NCAA Fencing National Champion, 2008
Columbus (June 13, 2010)—Our daughter Holly McKibben graduated Cum Laude on Sunday with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Nancy's and my alma mater - The Ohio State University. The weather cooperated at the Ohio Stadium ceremony attended by approximately 45,000 family, friends, dignitaries and graduates. Holly's fellow nursing students - always the most flamboyant college at OSU graduations - released their balloons when introduced by the Provost. We watched proudly from the shade of the new D Deck press box as Holly wound her way down to the field to accept her hard-earned diploma.
Afterwards about 75 of Holly friends, classmates, teammates, coaches, roommates, family and neighbors gathered in our backyard which we had transformed under Holly's instruction into a festive German Biergarten. Holly is leaving next week with her boyfriend Karl and his parents to visit Austria and Italy for a month, so she wanted to start the acculturation before the trip! Holly's Coach Vladimir Nazlymov, wife Natasha and their granddaughter stopped by, as did Coach Sasha Smerdin. Holly's Grandma Dorothy Hoovler came in person and her Grandmother Carline McKibben attended in spirit. Holly received many well-wishes and continues to prove to her parents that the "drama queen" spirit and infectious enthusiasm she was born with has now infected many others, judging from the spirited manner with which the party participants expressed appreciation for their friend Miss Holly.
Holly's family in attendance were her father and mother Michael & Nancy McKibben; brothers Max and Justin; sisters Carrie (Fletemeyer), Susanna, and Rose; sister-in-law Elisabeth (Max's wife); brother-in-law Kevin Fletemeyer; Nancy's sister Carol Phillips; and Holly's boyfriend Karl Fekete. In another one of those wonderful turn-of-life events, Joel and Ruth Vesanen, former '70's and early 80's music ministry colleagues, also graduated their oldest daughter Anja with a Masters in Nursing in the same ceremony. Anja is married to Mike Brokow who is a civil engineer working for the State of Ohio in bridge inspection.
We homeschooled Holly through junior high school after which she attended public high school at The Graham School, a charter school founded in Clintonville where our daughter Susanna had been a founding student. During high school Holly took up fencing with her sister Rose and brother Justin and amazed us all by quickly rising in the ranks and finishing 2nd in the state her senior year. She always knew she would attend Ohio State since her fencing coaches were also Ohio State's internationally-acclaimed coaches who had recently won the NCAA Fencing Championship in 2005 and Ohio State offered the unique opportunity in sport to train side-by-side with such champions as eventual Beijing Olympics Silver Medalist Jason Rogers and others.
Holly knuckled down her junior and senior years and won a 4th place finish at Penn State's Garret Open at the beginning of her senior season. She put the top dogs of Women's Foil nationally on notice that Holly McKibben was now in the hunt. She fenced strongly all season, prompting Northwestern Women's Foil powerhouse and always-gracious Meredith Baskies to give Holly kudos for beating her at Penn State. Because Ohio State's Women's Foil team was so strong, Holly did not qualify for the 2010 NCAA Championship Tournament, but did attend the Harvard-hosted event (next year Ohio State will be the host) to warm up and support her teammates. Judging from the final NCAA Championship results, we can confidently conclude that Holly ranks somewhere in the top 15 NCAA Women's Foil fencers nationally (unofficially). At least that's this parent's story and I'm sticking to it!
Under the tutelage of her coaches Vladimir Nazlymov (3-time Olympic Gold Medalist and former coach of the Soviet National Olympic Team and Soviet Army Team) and Gia Abashidze (5-time Soviet Men's Foil Champion), we believe Holly has now learned the differences between mediocrity and greatness. What more could a parent ask from a university education?!
My friend and fellow Ohio State Marching Band Alum, Ed Crockett, shot this wonderful photo of Holly for me earlier in the school year before the OSU-Wisconsin football game. This picture captures something of Holly's vibrancy. You go girl. We expect wonderful things from you as you continue your life's journey. We love you and are very proud of you. Godspeed.
-- Mom and Dad '73
Holly McKibben finishes 4th at Penn State Open where nation's top collegiate fencers gather
State College, PA (November 21, 2009) -- Ohio State University's Academic All-Big 10 senior Holly McKibben finished 4th in women´s foil competition at the Penn State Garret Open today. In a field of 56 of the country´s top women´s foilists, McKibben was bested only by last year's NCAA 1st, 2nd and 11th place finishers. Most observers consider this event a harbinger of the NCAA National Championships since many of the nation's top collegiate fencers participate.
Holly McKibben and her Ohio State teammate Oksana Dmytruk squared off in the semifinals against Notre Dame's Hayley Reese and Penn State's Doris Willette respectively. Penn State's Willette is the reigning NCAA Gold Medalist and Ohio State's Dmytruk is the reigning NCAA Silver Medalist. Notre Dame's Reese is a junior, finished 11th at the 2008 NCAA Championships, and is ranked 8th in U.S. Division II.
Reese and McKibben traded points throughout the match in a hard-fought contest. McKibben appeared to be gaining the upper hand throughout the bout, but struggled with strong moves that were just off-target, enabling a gritty Reese to stay in the match and eventually prevail.
Holly's Ohio State head coach Vladimir Nazlymov, a three-time Olympic Gold Medalist and twice named the world's best fencer, was pleased with her performance and rapid improvement. Even her former coach Gia Abashidze, who just left Ohio State to become Penn State's foil coach couldn't resist a congratulatory high five and embrace. (Three of the four finalists were his present or former students.)
While Holly fenced Reese, her teammate Oksana Dmytruk dueled Penn State's Doris Willette in a hard-fought rematch of the 2008 NCAA Championship bout. Willette prevailed and went on to beat Reese in the finals to take first place.
Nancy and I were there to cheer Holly and team on. This is only her second senior-year competition. Last week she went 21-0 at the Ohio State Duals against admitedly lesser competition. However, the Penn State Garret Open is different. Many of the countries top collegiate fencers trekked to Happy Valley for this season-opener. Here's a list of the teams who competed:
- Penn State
- Ohio State
- Notre Dame
- UNC Chapel Hill
- Fairleigh Dickinson
Holly shattered her personal best yesterday. After so many years of watching our children fence, Nancy and I think that maybe we are beginning to understand this sport well enough to hazard an opinion about what we saw yesterday. We would have left Happy Valley pleased that Holly qualified for the "sweet sixteen". After she did that, the monkey was off her back. She seemed to relax and then took her fencing to levels we have never seen. She was more poised, focused, patient, and smarter with her actions. Her eventual loss in the semifinals to Notre Dame's Hayley Reese highlighted skills she needs to work on, but those are very achievable (we won't share these secrets... these are between her and her coaches!).
Last year at the NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifiers Holly proved to herself that despite her late start in the sport, she could now run with the big dogs. Yesterday Holly proved that she is herself a big dog! Way to go Holly! Keep focused on the prize: continuous improvement. Let´s see where that takes you this season. Your parents could not be more pleased with your hard work and dedication. The lessons about commitment, perseverance and overcoming obstacles as prerequisites to success are transferable skills to any life endeavor. Thanks to fencing for helping teach them to you!
Holly´s rise in the women´s fencing world is nothing short of meteoric. Most girls start fencing by age 10. Holly started when she was 15 with younger sister Rose and brother Justin as an extracurricular homeschool activity suggested by their mother. Two years later she finished 2nd in the 2005 Ohio High School Fencing Championships. Her sister Rose finished 6th that year after being defeated in the quarterfinals by Isabella Bonello, the eventual champion, now a freshman on the Ohio State team with Holly and Oksana.
Academic and work constraints have prevented Holly from competing in most of the national United States Fencing Association competitions, consequently she only has an E-09 national ranking; compared to the A-09´s of the other Penn State semifinalists. Nonetheless, Holly wears a NCAA National Championship team ring as a member of the Ohio State 2007 National Championship team.
Here are brief resumes of the four Penn State Garret Open women´s foil semifinalists:
Holly McKibben from Ohio State who finished 4th yesterday had previously finished 10th in the 2008 NCAA Midwest Regional Qualifiers and 2nd in the 2005 Ohio High School Championships. E0-9 national ranking.
Oksana Dmytruk from Ohio State who finished 3rd yesterday was the 2008 NCAA Silver Medalist in women´s foil and was twice the former Ukrainian National Champion in high school. A-09 national ranking.
Hayley Reese from Notre Dame who finished 2nd is a Notre Dame junior, finished 11th at the 2008 NCAA Championships, and is ranked 8th in her age-level in the United States. A-09 national ranking.
Doris Willette from Penn State who finished 1st is Penn State´s twice reigning NCAA National Champion in women's foil in both 2007 and 2008. A-09 national ranking.
In related family news. Two "The Game" results to acknowledge. While Holly was fencing, reports were coming in via text messages that the Ohio State football team beat Michigan 21-10. Holly's brother Max and sister-in-law Elisabeth met up with other Harvard football alums in Boston to cheer Harvard on to victory over Yale 14-10. Harvard and Yale were fencing at Penn State also (Holly did not fence anyone from Yale, but did beat a Harvard girl along the way). We were all missing our usual foci on our respective "THE GAME"s, but for us it was worth it to watch Holly take her game to a new level.
COLUMBUS (July 19, 2009) - Invoking parental bragging rights, Nancy and I wish to announce that our son Max McKibben for his exemplary score on his medical board examination. Max took over 6,000 practice exam questions in preparation, and it paid off. Recognition also goes to his fiance, Elizabeth Kreter, who has provided wonderful support for Max's studies. Somehow they found time to run in marathons together, remodel a kitchen and condo, visit Harvard and Dartmouth friends' weddings and attend a banquet at Dartmouth honoring Elizabeth's achievement as a 2005 NCAA Sailing Champion. Elizabeth works as a strategy analyst for Trinity Partners in Waltham, Massachusetts where she and Max worked together before Max decided to become a doctor. Trinity graciously agreed to a flex schedule for Elizabeth so that she could visit Max in Cleveland often.
Our daughter Carrie (Fletemeyer) McKibben also called several days ago to tell us she had received her diploma in interior design from Scottsdale Community College. This is one of the premier interior design programs in the country and is affiliated with the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA). Carrie has recently moved to Indianapolis after her husband Kevin Fletemeyer's promotion to the Indianapolis office of Magellan Health Systems, Inc. as Vice President of Finance reporting to the Magellan CFO, COO and CEO. Within weeks of their move to Indianapolis with their dog Dudley (aka "The Dudster"), Carrie was snapped up by an interior design firm in the Broadripple area where they bought a house.
Our daughter Kathryn Rose McKibben graduated in June from The Graham School with academic honors from the Columbus Public Schools. Rose has received numerous accolades during her four years including the Leadership Award as a junior. Like her siblings, we homeschooled Rose up to high school. Her senior "walkabout" took her with her classmate Shannon to Ireland, England, Austria and Northern Ireland where the girls left a trail of friends. In Austria they taught English to a class of their peers who suddenly became eager to learn English from two cute instructors. "The Irish" friends have already come to visit in Columbus and the girls keep in touch with all of them via the Internet. While in the United Kingdom the girls had the honor of being hosted by David and Carolyn Wilson in Tetbury, Wiltshire. David was hired by Prince Charles in the early 1980's to found what now is called Duchy Home Farm. David's brother Peter Wilson and wife Helen hosted Rose and Shannon in London for several weeks. Pete worked for me in the early 1980's before eventually becoming the head teacher at Old Bexley Primary School in Bexley, Kent near London. Dave and Pete's father, Rev. John Wilson, was our St. Giles Church vicar in Lea, Wiltshire near Malmesbury, Wiltshire (along with their feisty late mother Irene) when we lived in the U.K. and where Carrie and Max were born.
Way to go children! There are fewer greater satisfactions for your parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts than reporting on your continued personal and professional growth.
Justin McKibben getting ready to swing on the first pitch. He hit it over the center field fence for a Grand Slam, securing his Rockie's second-round tournament win over the Pirates who had won the regular season.
By Nancy McKibben
WESTERVILLE, OHIO (July 12, 2009) - Yesterday Justin McKibben and his Rockies team of the Westerville Summer Youth Baseball League (WSYBL), played to break a second-round tournament tie from Thursday (called due to darkness) against the regular season champion Pirates. Justin had not played in the Thursday game because he hurt his foot but it was okay by Saturday. So the opposing team got up to bat and got a man on base with two outs and then someone hit a home run and the Pirates scored two. So Justin's Rockies were behind by two. This was an extra inning, so his team had to score at least three to win and go on in the tournament.
Justin's team came up to bat. Justin was put at the bottom of the batting order because he had not played on Thursday and those are the rules. That made him the 5th one to bat. The pitcher walked three and struck out one all from the bottom of our order. Then Justin came up with bases loaded. He swung on the first pitch, which was low. He connected and it sailed over the center field fence for a Grand Slam! So everyone except the other team (their pitcher threw his hat into the trash can) was elated. Justin's teammates gathered around and pounded his helmet in congratulations. He was pretty excited, as were we all. So these three photos show him up at bat, coming in home, and with the team after the game. In the entire game, he came up to bat and swung once and that was it. And he won the game for them.
So there's another game on Tuesday.
Holly is fencing today in Texas at the national tournament. She sends us her scores via cell phone.
More of Justin's photos below. Mike was fortunate enough to have caught the moment.
Justin McKibben touching home to the jubilation of his Rockies teammates in their extra-innings tournament win over the league champion Pirates.
Justin McKibben (behind No. 6) and his Rockies team savoring their extra-innings victory over the league champion Pirates on the bat of Justin's just-completed Grand Slam!
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