East Coast Fencing Club, the newest addition to businesses on the Roslyn waterfront, opened on Saturday, with owner and head coach Maestro Gidon Retzkin arriving in Roslyn after a 30-year career in professional fencing.
American-born and raised in Israel, Retzkin began fencing at age 9.
“A fencing coach came to my elementary school, and I just got hooked from there,” Retzkin said.
Retzkin, 39, went on to become a seven-year Israeli champion in various categories and 10-year Israeli national champion in team performance, and began coaching in 2005. While coaching in Mineola and Great Neck, Retzkin visited friends in Roslyn and took a liking to the village.
“I fell in love with it,” Retzkin said. “I knew if I wanted to open my own club, it would be in the Roslyn area.”
It took eight months to purchase the Lumber Road property, request permits and make renovations, but Retzkin’s efforts turned a shuttered guitar shop into a two-floor fencing studio with a view of the Roslyn waterfront.
With Retzkin’s move came 30 students, including Grace Lee of Jericho. Lee, 13, began fencing with Retzkin two years ago, inspired by her older brother Daniel, and describes his coaching style as disciplined.
“The maestro’s very diligent,” Lee said. “He’s very good at giving criticism to where you need to improve.”
Similarly, Jayden Hooshi of Westbury has fenced for three years under Retzkin’s tutelage. Hooshi, 11, is one of the club’s most decorated members, coming in first place at the Y12 Durkan Rooster Regional Youth Tournament on Sunday. Like Lee, he followed his older brother Dylan’s footsteps in pursuing fencing.
“In the strips, you can put out all your emotions, and I can be who I am,” Hooshi said.
He credits Retzkin with assisting him in his passion.
“The maestro is one of my favorite coaches,” Hooshi said. “He has an exquisite club and the environment here is great.”
Adult and child classes begin in earnest at the club in September, with Retzkin enthusiastic to teach a wave of new students in his new space.
“We want to establish a community of individuals who want to do well, and want to learn the sport,” Retzkin said. “I’m just here to serve them.”