Bulletin for the Week of October 12, 2020

The long range forecast looks better for Sunday than Saturday this weekend, but I will keep an eye on the forecast and update the Active Fencer email list on Friday as to which day we will meet. Weather permitting, we will have two more outdoor classes, before moving in to our new home in the Vergennes Opera House.

This week's schedule (which ever day we end up meeting)
9:30-11 a.m Char Epee
11-12:30 Char Foil
2-3:30 Midd Epee
3:30-5 Midd Foil

Don't forget, keep track of how many classes you have attended and buy a new punch card ($60) when you run out. You can continue to use the cards for the Vergennes classes, or when ever you resume fencing again. They never expire.

Lost and found from the tournament this weekend: water bottle with Camp Keewaydin and Mad River Glen stickers, and grey sweatshirt with a smiley face. Let me know if they are yours.

UVM coach Anne Crocket, who is departing for an overseas job on Saipan (Northern Marianas Islands, near the Philippines) "willed" the VFA a bunch of foil blades.
Free to a good home: several electric foil blades, which need to be rewired. Some have tips, some don't. Let me know if you want one to clean up and rewire as a spare.
$5 donation to the club each: a whole bunch of dry (practice) foil blades. So if you break one, don't buy a new one, take a cheap one off my hands. I also received from Anne a bunch of foil guards and pads. If you would like a pistol grip practice foil, you can buy just your preferred grip and a pommel nut, give them to me, and I will put together a foil for you! Again, $5 donation to the club.

I just visited the Opera House this afternoon and met with the manager there. I think it's going to be a great interim practice space for us. They will even let us store our strip equipment in the green room. The space is on the second floor of City Hall. Parking is on the street (there is always somewhere to park on a weeknight, but you may have to carry your equipment a block or two, plus up the stairs). The water fountain is turned off, but it is possible to fill water bottles in the restroom sinks. It's a beautiful space with very high ceilings (there is even a balcony for spectators), good lighting, and good acoustics.

If you have not yet signed up for the VOH classes, I recommend you do so right away, as they are filling up! Here again is the link to sign up and let me know which nights you are available:

If you go to sign up and find all the slots taken, e-mail me to get on the waiting list, in case someone who signed up ahead of you changes their mind.

My goal is to have 16 fencers per evening, but I'm doing like the airlines and overbooking slightly (since there are usually absences), so there is space for up to 18 per weapon. My original thought was to have foil one of the nights and epee the other (we get the Opera House on Monday and Thursday evenings, starting Oct 26). I am really enjoying teaching each weapon separately and focussing on actions that are characteristic of that weapon. However, I'm having second thoughts now that I see who is signing up, including families with fencers of different weapons, and some people who can only come one of the two evenings. If I were to have 4 8-person pods (Monday foil, Monday epee, Thursday foil, and Thursday epee), I think I could accommodate almost everyone who signs up. So instead of 16 of the same weapon, each night would be half and half. That means you would have a smaller selection of training partners in your weapon (may be safer that way in terms of covid), but families could come together on the same night, most (or hopefully all) of those who are restricted to a particular night could be included, and those who enjoy fencing both weapons can do so during open fencing time. What do you think? I am open to suggestion!

Another idea I had: we will have a two week break Nov 23-Dec 3 (Thanksgiving week, and then a week when VOH is in use for rehearsals for a show). We have the option of renting the space again for two weeks (Dec 7/10 and Dec 16/18). I would like to suggest that, instead of classes those two weeks, we run an in-house double round robin tournament. Foil two of the nights (one of the Mondays and one of the Thursdays) and epee the other two. That will bring fencers from the separate Mon and Thurs pods together to compete by earning points on each of the two evenings, with some kind of fun prizes for those with the most points. You don't have to come both nights (some of you won't be able to) but you are most likely to win a prize if you do.

The VFA will be hosting a station for Middlebury's drive-through trick or treat event on Halloween (it's a Saturday this year). We will be outdoors in front of MUMS (the Middle School). We will have a small pop-up tent to decorate. We will be setting up around 3 or 3:30. The drive through trick or treating is from 4-7 p.m Better Middlebury Partnership provides the candy, we just have to hand it out. Here's what I am looking for from you: a mix of fencers in historical or swashbuckling movie character costumes and fencers with modern equipment to do some actual fencing, plus lots of decorations (fencing jack o lanterns! who can carve one?). I am going as Zorro (since it's Spanish for Fox). I would love to see pirates, musketeers, vikings, samurai, knights, and swashbucklers of every stripe (hey, even Jedi are fair game!). The only famous swordsman I would not recommend is Cyrano de Bergerac - you'll never get your covid face cloak on over that nose! I am starting a list of who plans to be there, so I know who I can count on. Please either email me or use the Discord channel to confirm that you are participating. This will be fun (because who doesn't want to ham it up with a sword?), a nice thing to do for the kids of Middlebury so that they don't lose Halloween to covid, and good publicity for our club when we return from exile. .

Just typing the words "Tournament Results" kind of makes me happy. We had a chilly but sunny day yesterday for the October Surprise outdoor tournament. Congratulations to the winners, and everyone else who turned up and proved that even a pandemic can't hold the VFA down.

Foil Age 14- (8 competitors)
1. Indy Fetterolf, VFA
2. Milan De Gijsel, UVFC
3. Miranda Gallagher, VFA
3. Ciaran May, VFA

Foil Age 15+ (10 competitors)
1. Alex Yaggy, VFA
2. Isidora Baily-Hall, VFA
3. Rick Davis, VFA
3. David De Gijsel, UVFC

Epee All Ages (18 competitors)
1. Will Nop, Drew Univ/VFA
2. Jesse Lussier, VFA
3. Garrett Kane, VFA
3. Anne Crocket, UVM/some tropical island somewhere

Performance of the Week: If this were a normal season, 13 year olds Indy, Ciaran, Torrey and Miranda would have graduated from our youth series and begun their quests for ratings and glory in the senior (teen and adult) ranks this fall. Because of the need to create workable events from the limited number of fencers participating this fall, it didn't quite work out that way this time around, but the four of them proved themselves as up and coming young competitors. I am enjoying watching this group of kids sprout, not just physically, but in terms of their focus, work ethic, athletic ability, and leadership within the club. Indy (winner of the only 2 youth epee events in last season's aborted series) used his height, speed, and strong ripostes to good effect as he went undefeated in the Age 14- foil event. In the mixed age epee, he went 3-2 in his pool, losing only to two highly experienced, rated adults (both of whom were eventual medalists), and finishing a very respectable 6th. A couple of times I glanced across the tennis courts and thought "who is that athletic young woman looking like she knows what she's doing over there?" only to realize it was "little" Torrey, who narrowly lost 10-8 to the (adult, C-rated) eventual silver medalist. Ciaran pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament, going into DEs seeded 12th, and defeating the 5th seed (yet another rated adult fencer) 10-9 to finish 8th. Miranda (winner of the only 2 youth foil events last season) really wanted to play with the big kids, and instead ended up reffing a lot of the bouts between younger, less experienced fencers, getting very few breaks (welcome to my world, Miranda...). I don't think the Y14 event could have happened without the work and leadership she put in. She was frustrated to lose a close semifinal (mostly due to making first intention attacks when she should have switched to second intention - and since I was reffing, I couldn't give her useful advice), but I have confidence that she is ready for prime time.

Honorable Mentions: I was so involved in reffing the Y14 foil that I didn't get to see much of the 15+ foil event, but Alex, Isidora and Rick were dominant (and also did the lion's share of reffing and keeping the whole thing running), with Ethan giving Rick a good run for his money in their DE. It was great to see so many first time competitors, including Rodney (who was denied his Middlebury Open debut and has only gotten better since then), sisters April and Aidan (who have had only 4 backyard lessons with me but are learning fast), Grace (UVM's loss is the VFA's gain), and Owen (who achieved his goal of besting my first-tournament record). Another fine addition to the VFA is youth epee fencer Brice (he started fencing while living in France last year), who did a great job of leading with his hand and making up for his small size by fully extending his arm. Solid performance also from Henry, finishing 6th in epee and coming within one point of upsetting one of the medalists in the round of 8.

Thank yous: To Genevieve for running the tournament smoothly her first time flying solo (yay for parents learning to run the Fencing Time tournament software!), John for reffing and troubleshooting one very frustrating prolonged issue (involving several weapons and body cords that all broke at the same time), Karen, John, Leslyn and Laura for organizing the raffle. And it was a successful raffle, despite the 6 month delay of game, netting about $750 for the club!