Coach Bios

Maestro Arkady Burdan

Maestro Arkady Burdan is one of the most qualified and gifted fencing coaches in the world. He has developed and coached legendary fencers in the United States and the Soviet Union. Maestro Burdan has spent his life creating champions. He is recognized nationally and internationally for the passion and commitment he brings to each of his students. As the head coach of Nellya Fencers, Maestro’s students have claimed every national and international title. Nellya athletes have populated U.S. fencing national teams for 23 years. His most recognized student, three-time Olympic medalist, Sada Jacobson, was ranked number one in the world for 3 consecutive years. Maestro Burdan is a three-time Olympic Coach and was recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as Coach of the Year for fencing in 2002. Having traveled the world to hundreds of competitions, Maestro Burdan’s broad worldview attracts a diverse community of fencers from near and far.

Terrence Lasker , SABRE

Terrence Lasker trained with one of the greatest sabre fencers in the world, Vladimir Nazlymov (now head coach at The Ohio State University). He is a 5-time national champion, 4-time member of the U.S. National Team and was first alternate for the U.S. Olympic Fencing Team in 1996. Lasker was the assistant fencing coach at Ohio State from 2003-2008 and joined Nellya Fencers in 2008. In 2017 he was recognized by the United States Olympic Committee as Developmental Coach of the Year.

iLiA Andreev, Sabre

Ilia Andreev is a passionate and enthusiastic coach from Russia with an impressive background in saber fencing. He has over 17 years of experience as a professional athlete, achieving top rankings at the National, European, and World Championships. He is a four-time member of the Russian National Team. His coach, Alexander Shirshov, was the 1992 Olympic Champion and one of the most outstanding coaches in Russia today. During his athletic career, he often assisted in conducting classes and giving personal lessons. Although he dedicated most of his life to being a professional athlete, he graduated with a Master’s degree in sports management from MGIMO University in 2020. He finished 6th in the 2022 Division 1 Men’s Saber July Challenge.


Margaret McDonald began fencing in 2006 at Nellya Fencers and was trained by Arkady Burdan. She is a 5-time Senior Team National Champion and a 3-time Junior Team National Champion. She represented the United Stated on the Cadet National Team in 2011 and the Junior National Team in 2012. She went on to fence on St. John’s University’s Division 1 fencing team, where she took a top eight finish in 2016. She returned to the Nellya team in 2017


Coach Konate Primus came to Nellya Fencers from the Peter Westbrook Foundation, one of New York’s most outstanding fencing facilities and influential foundations. He is a two time National Champion and a Junior World Cup silver medalist, and has assisted in the development of many Junior and Senior world team members. Coach Primus joined the Nellya team in 2018.

Kaja Lasker, Sabre

Kaja Lasker began fencing at 11 years old in Lodz, Poland, and was a member of the Cadet and Junior National team. She received her bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology Exercise Science from Wayne State University, where she trained and qualified for NCAA Championships in 2013 and 2014. While completing her degree, she worked as an assistant coach at WSU during the 2015-16 season, leading group and individual lessons for college students. After graduation, she moved to Washington DC to work as an assistant coach at Capital Fencing Academy for the 2016-17 season. There, she taught group and individual lessons to students aged 6 - 18. In 2019, she returned to Drgon Lodz, her home club in Poland, and began work as an assistant coach and completed the FIE Coaching Academy Program Level 2 in Budapest, Hungary. In 2020 she became the Head Fencing Coach for Guernsey en Garde and Sports Development Officer for Fencing for Guernsey Sports Commission in Guernsey, where she conducted after-school and lunch-hour programs for grades 4 - 8 in schools across the island.