Zoltan Dudas is in his fourth season as an assistant coach with the Notre Dame fencing team, after serving as a team consultant in 2002. A respected coach with particular experience in foil and epee, Dudas has tutored several elite fencers during his 18-year coaching career - both in his native Hungary and most recently in the Midwest United States.
The 38-year-old Dudas played a key role in instructing several Notre Dame All-Americans during the 2002-05 seasons and serves as a perfect complement to Irish head coach Janusz Bednarski, one of the nation's premier sabre instructors.
During his first four seasons working with the Irish fencing program (`02-'05), Dudas helped guide the Irish foilists and epeeists to 26 All-America finishes and 30 NCAA appearances (with a maximum of 32 in that four-year stretch). He has tutored some of the most dominant fencers in Notre Dame's storied fencing tradition, including the recently-departed "fantastic four" comprised of three-time NCAA women's foil champion Alicja Kryczalo (also the `05 NCAA runner-up), 2002 NCAA women's epee champ Kerry Walton (also 5th in '03 and '04 runner-up), two-time foil runner-up Andrea Ament ('02, '04; also 3rd in '03 and 7th in `05) and 2005 men's epee champion Michal Sobieraj (also 10th in '02, 2nd in `03 and 3rd in '04).
Dudas has coached five elite four-time All-Americans - foilist Ozren Debic, epeeist Jan Viviani (both `03 grads), Ament, Kryczalo and Sobieraj - who own some of the best career winning percentages for their respective weapons in the Notre Dame record book. Five others coached by Dudas - foilists Derek Snyder and Jakub Jedrkowiak and epeeists Anna Carnick, Meagan Call and Amy Orlando - have registered All-America honors during the past three seasons.
Bednarski readily shared the coaching credit with Dudas following Notre Dame's run to the 2003 and 2005 NCAA titles and the results from his fencers certainly justify such recognition. The Dudas-coached foilists and epeeists combined for a clean sweep of eight All-America finishes at the 2003 NCAAs while totaling nearly 75% of the team's winning point total (133 of 182). Then, in `05, Sobieraj, Kryczalo and Orlando each finished among the top-four in the round-robin while the foilists and epeeists posted 101 wins to help the Irish win another NCAA title.
Dudas - who received a 1997 Outstanding Coach Award from the Hungary Fencing Association - moved to the U.S. in 2000 and served two years as a coach at Cleveland's Saturn Fencing Center, where he helped mold Ament into a world-class foilist and epeeist. He also now serves as head coach at the Indiana Fencing Academy and has coached six World Cup finalists, a 2005 USFA national champion and bronze medalist, plus nearly 70 other finalists in various national events. His fencers have combined to reach the finals (top eight) at 41 North American Cups (17 medalists) and 24 USFA National Championships (16 medalists) while six others have posted medalist finishes at the Junior Olympics. Ten of his fencers and three IFA women's epee teams have posted top finishes at the Summer Nationals - including six finalists and the silver-medal women's epee team in '03.
Dudas tutored several fencers in Hungary who excelled at national tournaments - highlighted by men's foilist Akos Marinki's bronze at the 1997 under-15 National Championships. He also coached his under-20 men's foil team (5th) and under-15 women's foil squad (4th) to impressive finishes at the 1999 Nationals.
After graduating in 1992 with degrees in geography and physical education from Juhasz Gyula Teachers Training College in Szeged, Hungary, Dudas received a 1996 postgraduate degree in physical education from Janus Pannonius University in Pecs, earning highest coaching qualifications in fencing and five other sports. He taught physical education on the elementary and high school levels, including a seven-year stint (1993-2000) at Szechenyi Istvan High School - where his men's team handball squad won the 1999 national title.
Dudas participated in a 1988 weekly apprenticeship with legendary fencing master Bela Bay and attended 1997 and `98 nine-day training camps in Szombathely, with coaches hailing from 10 countries. At a 1999 training camp in Veszprem, moderated by top fencing masters, Dudas had the honor to demonstrate actions with Szabo Bence, the 1988 Olympic sabre champion.
An accomplished junior fencer in foil and epee, Dudas finished second in epee at the 1984 international Steaua Cup in Romania. He went on to place third at the 1987 Senior Provincial Championship and was a member of the epee team that won the 1988 Division II National Championship (he also fenced with the silver-medal sabre team). Dudas was honored for his sportsmanship as a 1988 recipient of the National Fair Play Award.
Dudas - who has published two in-depth articles on fencing technique and instruction - and his wife Ildiko were married in 2001. The couple resides in Granger with their three-year-old daughter Lili and her one-year-old sister Gina.