VFA Bulletin
January 2, 2023

I wish you all a happy and healthy new year! For the new Level 1 students: I will be sending you more details about the first class next week (class rosters, what to expect, what to bring etc). I send out the VFA Bulletin weekly, usually on Mondays. It's full of news and information, including unexpected schedule changes (they do happen), so make sure you at least skim the headlines for anything relevant to you. I will also use this email list in case of winter weather cancellations, so make sure that your spam filter isn't stopping them. If our host school closes, it's a sure bet we will have a cancellation, but sometimes bad weather sets in in the evening after school. If winter weather threatens, I will make a call by 2 p.m and send out an email.

Here is the schedule for the start of the winter session.

Thursday Jan 5: Special Competitive Squad practice in Charlotte 7-9 pm (we will return to our usual Tuesday nights the following week). This practice will combine plenty of bouting (bring your electric equipment) with a workshop on sports psychology. So much of our performance hinges on our mental state and emotions, not just our physical skills and tactical knowledge (although those are important too!). We will explore this through role playing, visualization exercises, etc. In addition to continuing Squaddies, I invite any teen or adult fencer who is interested in possibly joining the Squad to come along for this, including Middlebury fencers. Requirements for joining the Competitive Squad: age 13+ (occasionally a skilled 12 year old by invitation), enthusiastic and motivated, intention to compete regularly in at least local tournaments, mature and focussed enough to handle unsupervised self-directed practice. These qualities are more important than current skill level or how long you have been fencing. I would love to see some new Squaddies in the new year!

Tues Jan 10, Charlotte Central School
7-8:15 First Level 1 class, Competitive Squad self-directed practice
8:15-9 Competitive Squad continues with me

Wednesday Jan 11, Mary Hogan School (Middlebury)
6-7:15 pm First Level 1 class (experienced teen and adult Level 2/3 fencers are encouraged to arrive by 6:30 to begin bouting with each other, younger and less experienced Level 2/3 students should arrive around 7)
7:15-7:45 Coached/supervised bouting time for Level 1, youth fencers, less experienced Level 2 students who need a bit more guidance, and anyone who wants to play. Experienced teen and adult Level 2/3 fencers may opt to continue electric bouting if they prefer.
7:45-9 p.m Level 2/3 class

Thurs Jan 12, Charlotte Central School
7-8:15 pm Level 2/3 class
8:15-9 pm Open fencing time

As of today, the Charlotte Level 1 class is full (13 or 14 of the 12 places are taken....). In Middlebury, there are 6 new students signed up so far, with room for more (but limited range of rental equipment sizes left - see below). In addition, I am expecting a new transplant from out of state (an epeeist in Middlebury) and several folks possibly returning after a hiatus ranging from several months to many years. .

As of today, I am "sold out" in small (youth) and large (most adult men, some larger women and teens) sizes. I still have medium masks (fit most women and teens, some larger children or smaller men) and jackets that would fit fencers weighing approximately 100-170 lbs (best guess, depends on your measurements, really). I am happy to rent those out to Level 2 students at this point, or to additional Level 1 students in Middlebury. If you are interested, please email me - sooner rather than later, as everything is first come-first served.

Available to the first person who asks for it: small fencing bag (no wheels), great for your first set of equipment or even for rental equipment, name your own price (make a donation to the VFA, in whatever amount you can afford and feels right for you).

The Champlain Cup league continues with the first tournament of 2023!
Mid-Winter Melee, Saturday January 14, Mary Hogan School in Middlebury.
This tournament is open to all fencers born 2009 or earlier (the next youth event, for kids born 2010 or later, is in February)
All competitors must have Access or higher US Fencing membership. If you are currently a Noncompetitive member, you must upgrade before the tournament (at usafencing.org, or over the phone at 719-866-4511). An upgrade from noncompetitive to access status costs only $10, but we can not do it for you the day of the tournament and it may take you several days to get through and have it processed, so I strongly recommend not waiting until the last minute.

Event Schedule
10 a.m Open Foil, Unrated Epee
1:30 pm Open Epee, Unrated Foil

You may not enter two events that start at the same time.
Entry fees: If registered by Monday Jan 9, $20 for one event or $30 for two. $15 late fee if registered after Jan. 9. Payment is at the door, and there is no penalty for withdrawing if you need to (we definitely don't want you to come if you are sick), so go ahead and sign up now!

Unrated events are perfect for first-time and inexperienced competitors, as they are limited to fencers who have not earned a rating (or whose E rating has expired). If we have 6 or more fencers of each gender, we will have separate male and female unrated events. If there are fewer than 6 of one or both genders, we will hold a single mixed event for that weapon.

A note on gender and events: Larger (national and regional) events traditionally have men and women compete separately (let's face it, guys often do have a physical advantage, just as young adults have a physical advantage over children and older fencers). This is also true in many divisions where they have plenty of female fencers (a shortage of male fencers is usually not the problem) and a culture of fencing separately. Here in the Green Mt Division, most of our events are mixed because we don't have enough fencers to offer higher-rated events without combining all genders. A nice side effect of this is that we have no issues when it comes to including trans and nonbinary athletes. Interestingly, USA Fencing recently announced their policy on trans and nonbinary competitors in gendered events, and it seems to be quite thoughtful and inclusive. If you are interested, you can read about it here:

Why should I compete? How do I know I am ready for my first tournament? Would you join a tennis club or recreational softball league, go to all the practices and never play in any games? Tournaments are our games. This is your chance to meet fencers from other clubs, fence with electric equipment (loaners available for newbies at no charge), experiment and play. You can come to your first tournament, lose every bout (I most certainly did!) and still have fun, learn, develop as a fencer, make new friends and become part of the broader fencing community. Green Mt Division tournaments are welcoming and supportive of newbies (we were all beginners once). You are ready to compete when you have a basic repertoire of moves and a basic understanding of the rules (if you have completed the Level 1 class, you definitely qualify), and you have the maturity to handle winning or losing with good sportsmanship (this is usually more an issue for youth and younger teen fencers, who may need a little help from parents around learning to handle their emotions and expectations).

To register, see who else is coming, get directions, etc

Sign up is via a website called AskFRED (FRED is the Fencing Results and Events Database). New to using it? Instructions for creating an account are here:

Once again, the mantra for the season: Tournaments do not just magically happen. It takes a large team of volunteers to put on a tournament. For the Mid-Winter Melee, we need the following to step up:
-Referees: Dedicated foil refs for U foil events (meaning you are not simultaneously competing in open epee). Probably 4, maybe more. I will be one of them. Who else? We will also need dedicated refs for U epee, but I am less worried about that (we have more epee refs available in the GMD and some of the more experienced U epee fencers are capable of reffing as well).
-Meet managers. Preferably one experienced manager and at least one trainee for the morning, and a different team of experienced manager/trainee for the afternoon. This is a great job for noncompetitors (parents, partners) who want to support their favorite fencer. By the way, our ace management team (Deirdre Goldenbogen, Genevieve Gallagher, Michele Wheeler) are hatching a plan to offer a training session at the Charlotte Congregational Church (around the corner from CCS) on a Tuesday or Thursday evening some time this winter. Not in time for the Mid-Winter Melee, but hopefully soon. I hope a whole lot of parents and partners will jump at the chance to learn the ins and outs of the Fencing Time software without the pressure of an actual tournament (besides, I hear that there will be cookies). Keep an eye on your Bulletin for info.
-Armorers. Like to tinker with equipment? Make yourself useful and keep our aging gear up and running.

Please let me know if you are willing to take on any of these tasks. And a big thank you in advance for making this tournament possible.