VFA Bulletin
October 17, 2022

Everything as normally scheduled this week, all the usual times and places.

Level 2/3 classes: This week will be a change of pace from our usual type of classes. We are going to focus on the skill of observing a fencing bout and using the correct language (plus some hand signals) to describe what the fencers are doing. This is known in the trade as "reconstructing the phrase". It is the thing that good foil referees do after every single touch - but I believe that epee fencers need to have the same skill. Contrary to common belief, epee fencers need to follow the phrase and know what is happening on the strip every bit as much as foil fencers do. Even though they do not have to make right-of-way calls, when there are two lights on the machine, epee refs occasionally need to annul one based on who had the right to hit and who didn't (something very similar to right of way). But beyond that, honing our observation skills and using a common language to describe fencing actions allows us to analyze our opponents and understand tactics better. Have you noticed that the best refs in the club are usually also the best fencers? That is not a coincidence. Learning to ref -and especially to reconstruct the phrase- makes you a better fencer. So we are going to devote a whole class to it, 2 or 3 times a year. If you are already confidant at reconstructing the phrase, please come this week as I will need helpers to demonstrate the actions and help give feedback to newer fencers (it's in your interest to develop new refs, so you are not always the one asked to do it!). If you find it difficult to tell the story of what just happened on the strip, you are shaky on what fencing vocabulary to use and what the words mean, or you want to understand the right of way rules better, this is the class for you!

Reminder: I am always happy to share written lesson plans (although I don't always get to everything in the write up....). I have one email list for Level 1 classes and another for Level 2/3 plans. If you would find it helpful to have these, just ask me to include you.
Also-Level 1 students who miss a class, just come about 15 minutes early the following week and I will quickly show you what you missed.

Mark your calendars and sign up early! Early sign up not only saves you paying a late fee, but is super helpful in organizing the tournament, and helps get other fencers excited about the tournament when they see lots of people planning to come. Are you currently in Level 1 classes? By the time these next 2 tournaments roll around, you will know enough to participate in and enjoy them, as long as you view it as a learning experience and don't worry too much about your scores (something that young kids often need some parental help with). Win or lose, everyone gets to fence a bunch of bouts, fence with electric equipment (loaners available free of charge for newbies), and meet fencers from other clubs. There is no snobbery toward newbies (we were all beginners once) - the more experienced competitors will be glad you are there, be happy to answer your questions, and may even offer you some coaching and pointers.

Sat Nov 12, Middlebury Union Middle School, Stick Season Stab
Open foil and epee, for all fencers born 2009 or before
E-under foil and epee. Restricted to E and unrated fencers, perfect for new competitors including current Level 1 adults and teens who feel ready to give it a try!
Register here:

Sat Dec 3, Vt Commons School (S Burlington), Holiday Open
Open foil and epee, for all fencers born 2009 or before
Youth foil and epee, for kids born 2010 or later including current Level 1 students who feel ready to give it a try!
Register here:

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:

Entry fee for all tournaments: $20 for your first event, plus $10 per additional event as long as you sign up 5+ days in advance. Late sign up fee is $15.
All senior (teen and adult) events require Access or Competitive membership. You may upgrade from Noncompetitive status before the tournament by paying the difference in dues, using the USA Fencing website or over the phone.
Local youth events do not require a membership upgrade.

The 2022-23 Champlain Cup season is under way! Congratulations to the winners of the Fall Foliage Open. Full results can be seen here (click the box next to a fencer's name to see all of their scores):

Open Epee (27 competitors, A2 event)
1 Wei, Zikun NOFEAR/RPI
2 Anderson, Brendan NYAC
3 Zou, Xianyang CFC - earned B rating
3 Horak, Peter MOE
5 Stevens, James RFA
6 Davis, Jessica NYAC
7 Brideau, Justin UNAT
8 Levandowski, Jim CDFS

Open Saber (8 competitors, E1 event)
1 Hammarberg, Shaine RPI
2 Board, Peter RPI
3 Coffin, Carleton RPI
3 D'Souza, Charlie

Open Foil (19 competitors, C1 event)
1 Bartram, Carter MOE - earned C rating
2 Brookes, Scott MOE
3 Wei, Zikun NOFEAR/RPI
3 Elder, Justin PVFA/UVM - earned D rating
5 Jin, Dennis STAR
6 Greenleaf, Paul FSC
7 Coffin, Carleton RPI
8 Fox, Viveka VFA

Veterans Epee (10 competitors, E1 event)
1 Levandowski, Jim CDFS
2 Stewart, Robert MFA
3 Bolduc, Patrice SRN
3 Nguyen, Thanh BSC-NY

Performance of the Week: No break-out performances on the strip by VFA fencers this time around, so I'm going to use this space to celebrate all of the volunteers who work quietly behind the scenes to put on our tournaments. Have I said this yet?: Tournments don't just magically happen, nor do your entry fees pay people to make them happen (entry fees just cover gym rental and supplies). With our division vp and stalwart Ray out of town, Karen and John stepped up to the plate. They took home the GMD computer, learned to operate Fencing Time and to connect Fencing Time with AskFRED, downloaded the registration list from the internet, worked nearly all day at the tournament, took the computer home and uploaded the results. Joining Karen and John (who also did a whole lot of equipment maintenance work at the tournament), Michele, Genevieve and Deirdre handled registrations and data entry on Saturday (with Michele and Karen reffing much of the veteran epee event as well). They did a lot of the clean up at the end of the day as well, joined by Ethan (who came in the morning to set up even though he was only fencing in the afternoon). Here is what I did for this tournament (and for almost all of them): reserved the gym, posted the tournament on AskFRED, liased with the custodian, went through all of the club equipment to make sure it was working (8 hours of armory work), answered questions and made sure newer competitors were all set, packed and transported all of the equipment, emailed all the competitors the day before to confirm they were coming and knew what to expect, reffed a lot of foil bouts (when we have E/U or Youth events, I ref even more-the current shortage of foil refs means I no longer have the option of fencing epee most tournaments), did the after-tournament accounting and bill payment. On top of this massive volunteer effort by the folks I just named, the fencers themselves were wonderful about helping with set up, clean up, reffing, keeping everything running efficiently, mentoring newer competitors, and creating a positive atmosphere all around. So a huge thank you and job well done to everyone who helped with the Fall Foliage Open!

Being an Open/Veteran event, we had a pretty experienced crowd who already know the ropes. Most of our remaining tournaments this season include events for newbies (E, U or Youth) that require even more volunteer effort, as beginners need lots of help developing into self-sufficient competitors. Please do not assume that the same wonderful crew of volunteers will organize, run and ref all GMD tournaments in perpetuity. We constantly need new volunteers to step up and help. Learn to ref (start by coming to Level 2/3 class this week! - then work through the steps toward official qualification), volunteer as a GMD officer next season (all of the current officers are serving an extended term due to the pandemic - our bylaws normally require officers to rotate out after 3 years precisely to encourage new people to step up), learn to repair fencing equipment and help as an armorer, sit at the registration table with an experienced meet manager next tournament and learn to run Fencing Time, sign up for "Bout Committee" membership on AskFRED (allows you to download and upload between the AskFRED website and Fencing Time software). We are a do-it-yourself division, and GMD tournaments are parties we throw for ourselves. Get involved!

Honorable Mentions: It's great to have Jesse back at fencing. He has not lost his touch, as the highest placed VFA finisher in both open epee (14th) and veterans epee (5th). The "jump right in with both feet" award goes to Callie, who entered her first tournament after all of three classes, and yes, did outscore my legendary first tournament. Simon made his debut in the "big leagues" and did as well as his youth fencing debut but with much older and more experienced opponents - a good sign for his future. A Vermont welcome to Jordanian brothers Mohammad and Yaseen. They are here for a few years (their mom is a grad student at UVM) and their enthusiasm, positive attitudes and fencing skill will be a great addition to our community.