Long-time Stevens Institute coach put women’s fencing on the map in New Jersey
For Women’s History Month, News 12 New Jersey is highlighting trailblazing women. One such woman has inspired hundreds of student athletes for decades at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken.
Linda Vollkommer-Lynch is a living legend in every sense of the word. She's a celebrated coach, teacher and mentor with a storied career spanning almost five decades. It was a time before women’s sports were widespread.
“It’s mind-boggling when I think back…When I was younger, it wasn’t even a thought. It wasn’t possible. You didn’t have the opportunities,” Vollkommer-Lynch says.
And while women still fight for equality in sports, Vollkommer-Lynch says she can appreciate how far things have come.
“There were no leagues for us when I was in grammar school. I rode my bike around the corner and roller-skated. I didn’t have an opportunity to play sports,” Vollkommer-Lynch says. “I used to sneak up to the gym at Stevens and sometimes the basketball guys would teach me shooting…I got really good at basketball.”
Vollkommer-Lynch was an all-state basketball player in high school, where she was shocked to even find a women's team. When she went to college, there was no team. She says the only women's team at New Jersey City University at the time was fencing, so she joined the team. Shortly after graduating, Stevens started their women's fencing program and a career was born.
“They were really ahead of their time, even though there were very few women here,” Vollkommer-Lynch says.
This is Vollkommer-Lynch’s 48th year as the head coach of the Stevens women’s fencing program. She is the only head coach in the program’s history and the longest-standing coach in all of Stevens’ athletics.
She's in both the Hudson County Hall of Fame and New Jersey City University Hall of Fame. As a fencer, she won the 1983 New Jersey State Championship and competed in the U.S. women's fencing Olympic trials in 1984. As a coach, her team attended the first NCAA Championships for women in 1982. Vollkommer-Lynch was also the first tenured female faculty member at Stevens.
“All those things are nice, but I don't think about them. I don't really talk about them that much but it's nice to be recognized for what you've done,” she says.
Vollkommer-Lynch has put fencing on the map in New Jersey. One last thing she added to her list of accomplishments is being taught how to take a selfie by then Vice President Joe Biden.