Shoulders slumped. Hands plunged deep into Levi pockets when they weren’t wrapped around a weapon. The “plain wrap” baseball cap. And a heart as boundless as Olympic dreams. Tom DiCerbo was a living, breathing caricature of the gruff, “do it my way or else” fencing coach, but most of all, he was one hell of a human being.
But let one of his students tell you about Tom…
“When the news of the death of Tom DiCerbo came about, I thought it was a joke but I was wrong. I thought to myself, “Why did he die all of a sudden? I just couldn’t accept the fact that my coach who encouraged me to continue fencing was gone. It felt like a part of me was vanished into thin air. At the funeral, I saw old and new faces mourn the loss of an extraordinary man and coach. Tom was a family man who taught you good, Christian family values and fought for what was right for himself, for his family, students and friends. If you didn’t know Tom, you missed out on a great man.
I remember the first time I met Tom; it was approximately one month before the Junior Olympics in Colorado (1993), my freshman year of high school and I wanted to quit fencing because it was considered a “nerd” sport. (Also, I was pressured into it by my brother, parents and the entire girls and boys fencing teams). Tom told me not to quit and to just try it for awhile. Surprisingly enough, I was actually pretty good and I enjoyed it.
The first impression I got from Tom was like he was the kind of guy who would “wreck” on you. But as time went on, I got to know him better and my feelings toward him began to change for the better.
If I was to be asked, what was the most memorable thing about Tom, I would have to say everything… from his personality to his lessons. Tom’s personality works in ways that can’t be explained. One minute he’ll be giving you pointers on fencing then, all of a sudden, he’ll teach you some family values. Taking lessons from him was just like being scolded by your parents mixed with a few “wise ass” jokes here and there. There are so many thoughts that come to mind about Tom that I remember, but the thought I will never forget are the words he would tell me after each lesson; “Why do you sweat so much? Stop sweating! Anyway, it was a good lesson, you’re a good kid. I’m glad you came.
Thanks for everything Tom! You will always be remembered in my heart and mind.
Edward Y Chang