November 28, 2022

I hope you had a good Thanksgiving! I just want to remind you to make sure that you are getting this weekly Bulletin (you may need to whitelist it if it is getting caught in your spam filter). I know that I write a lot and that you may be too busy to read every word, but please do at least skim the headlines and bold/italicized bits. Several of you have indicated that you missed information shared in the Bulletin. If you would like additional emails for this, just let me know (for example, two parents and a junior fencer can all get the bulletin). It is especially important to get these messages as we head in to winter, as I also use this mailing list if there is a weather related cancellation or any other last minute schedule change.

Covid caution: In the interest of full disclosure, my husband came down with covid the Saturday before Thanksgiving. His symptoms were mild and are now gone, but he is still testing kinda positive (a faint line). It has been over a week, I have had no symptoms, and as of this afternoon, tested negative. I plan to wear a cloth mask at fencing this week as a precaution (unfortunately, I just can't coach through an N95, it muffles my voice and I can't breathe well enough to yell the whole time). I will not be offended if you choose to mask up around me, keep your distance, or even to skip practice if you are worried about it. Please check for email (via this Bulletin list) before coming to class this week, just in case I do develop covid and need to cancel.

Schedule for end of fall and start of winter sessions:
This week and next, barring any unexpected disruptions, all practices as normally scheduled. Last practice of the fall session is December 8.
All rented equipment must be returned by Dec 10 (even if you are interested in renting again in the winter). If you miss the last week or it is cancelled, you will need to bring or ship it to my house (in Addison).

Jan 5: First Competitive Squad practice of the new year (Note: on a Thursday just for this week)
Week of Jan 10-12: full schedule resumes, same as fall schedule
Charlotte: Level 1 class/Competitive Squad practice on Tuesdays, Level 2/3 class (plus open fencing) on Thursdays
Middlebury: Everything on Wednesdays. Level 1 class 6-7:15 pm, bouting time for all 7:15-7:45, Level 2/3 class 7:45-9 p.m

Charlotte fencers note: I have not yet heard anything about town rec basketball for this winter. Usually they start up in December and run through Feb break. Some years, they push our practice times back to 7:30-9:30 and other years they don't. Nobody seems to be able to tell me in advance what the schedule will be - we just wait and see what they do.

I will be traveling from Dec 11 through Dec 25, so if you have questions for me, ask before I leave or you may not get an answer until several days after I return.

The VFA grows mainly via word of mouth, so make sure to tell your friends about fencing! In particular, we really need to advertise the Middlebury classes (the Charlotte group is big enough to be self-sustaining). The goal is to grow the Middlebury group back to a size where we could return to meeting twice a week, avoid the late Level 2/3 class, and start up a Competitive Squad program. The minimum for that to be financially viable is 25 people taking class per week (with absences inevitable, that means 25 active, regular members of the L2/3 class, on top of 8+ beginners each session). How you can help:
-Tell your friends in the Middlebury area about the VFA
-Post a blurb on Front Porch Forum. This seems to be our most effective advertising tool. I will post to the Vergennes forum (and Adam will do Middlebury), but I need fencers who live in other Addison and Rutland County towns to do some posting. Let me know if you can do it, and I'll send you a blurb to copy and paste. I would like to do one round of postings this week and another at the very end of December.

Do you have any outgrown or no longer used fencing equipment that still has plenty of life left? Now is a great time to donate it (for resale to benefit the VFA) or sell it, as lots of newbies are looking to save money on a first set of equipment. You can either give donations directly to me this week, or send me a listing of what you have for sale for me to share in next week's bulletin (next week is the last one before the holidays).

Saturday Dec 3, Vt Commons School in S. Burlington, Holiday Open
Entry fees: $20 for one event or $30 for two, if signed up by Nov 28 (today!!), with a $15 late fee after that. Not only does on-time registration save you $15, it helps me immensely with planning the tournament.

This tournament will include the first of 4 planned youth events for fencers born 2010 or later. GMD youth events are supportive, fun, age-appropriate tournaments for our youngest fencers, including current Level 1 students who would like to give it a try. They are unsanctioned, so no membership upgrade is required. Loaner equipment is available for those who need it, at no charge as long as you sign up by midnight tonight. All that you need is a sense of adventure, and the ability to maintain good sportsmanship whether you win or lose (something that younger kids sometimes need a little parental help learning to do). As of today, we have 14 kids signed up for youth foil, but only 4 for youth epee (minimum to run an event is 6). Level 1 students will get to try a bit of epee in class this week, so if you want to give it a go and do both foil and epee, go ahead and add your name to the epee list.

Youth event schedule:
10 a.m Youth (aka Y10Y12) Foil
1:30 pm Youth (aka Y10Y12) Epee

Open foil and epee events for all fencers born 2009 or before. Open events welcome adventurous newbies, as well as seasoned competitors. If you are currently in Level 1, you know enough to participate in this and enjoy it as long as you are not too stressed about your scores and just go into it as a learning opportunity. Open events are sanctioned (ratings can be earned), meaning that Access or Competitive membership is required. Unless you already upgraded, Level 1 students are currently noncompetitive members. An upgrade from noncompetitive to Access status only costs $10, but you must do it yourself in advance of the tournament, either on line at or over the phone at 719-866-4511. Note that the national office can be hard to reach, so please don't leave this to the day before. Not sure what kind of membership you have, or need to look up your member number? Go to, click on "memberships" and "current member list" and search for yourself.

Open (teen/adult) event schedule
10 a.m Open (aka Senior Mixed) Epee
1:30 pm Open (aka Senior Mixed) Foil

Always arrive at least 30 minutes before your scheduled event time to check in and warm up. If you need to borrow electric equipment (especially if you have never used it before), arrive at least 45 minutes early.

To register, get directions and see who else is coming:

Using AskFRED for the first time? Directions for setting up an account are here:

And now for the mantra of the season: Tournaments do not just magically happen. A large team of volunteers is needed to put on a good tournament. Here is how you can help: -VFA fencers in the Open Epee event should arrive at 8:30 a.m to set up the gym
-VFA fencers in the Open Foil event should stay after being eliminated and help clean up. The tournament is not over until everything is packed in my car (well actually, it's not over until our hard-working division officers have uploaded the results and filed the ratings change paperwork....)
-We need 3 foil fencers (in addition to myself) to come in the morning and ref the Youth Foil event (kiddos need dedicated refs, so these can not be people who are fencing epee in the morning). Earn GMD coupons and help our youngest fencers have a good experience - for many it will be their first tournament
-Our crack meet management team of Michele, Deirdre and Genevieve will once again be on the job, so this is a great opportunity for more of you to get trained for future tournaments. This is typically a job done by "noncombattants" - parents or partners of fencers, as well as the occasional fencer who has been sidelined by injury. The more folks who learn to do it, the less chance of our crack team getting burned out, and the better our chances of covering for them if they are sick or out of town. Earn GMD coupons and help keep our tournaments running smoothly.

Are you epee-curious? We will devote about half of this week's Level 1 class to trying epee. Foil skills transfer pretty well to epee - they are more alike than different. Think of it as playing a different game with the same pieces.
As you continue on to Level 2, you may choose to specialize in foil, specialize in epee, or dabble in a little of both to see which you prefer.

How to sign up for winter classes:
-Continuing students do not need to fill out a new registration form.
-You are already a USA Fencing member, and your punch card is good for all classes, just renew it when it runs out. The only fees due at the first practice in January are your winter club dues (for the January through March session). Club dues are $25 for Level 2/3 students.
-If you will have your own equipment by January, all you need to do is tell me that you will be fencing this winter.
-If you are unable to purchase equipment at this time, and can only participate in winter classes if there is rental equipment available for you, please contact me as soon as possible after Dec. 31. Any equipment that has not been assigned to new club members at that point is up for grabs and if I still have your size, I am happy to rent it to you (same deal, $20 fee plus $100 postdated deposit check).
-If you do not plan to participate this winter, please let me know (and also let me know if you would like to remain on the email list for the weekly Bulletin, and/or for future classes)

Several of you have asked - should I (or my child) repeat Level 1 or move on to Level 2?
-If you attended at least 7 of the Level 1 classes, you probably will enjoy Level 2/3 more (exception might be young children who might find the larger and older Thursday group in Charlotte to be a bit overwhelming, or the class time in Middlebury to be too late).
-If you attended fewer than 7 of the Level 1 classes and are under age 12, I recommend repeating Level 1.
-If you attended 5 or 6 Level 1 classes and are age 12+, you may wish to participate in both Level 1 (for review and to catch what you missed) and Level 2/3 (to move forward and learn new things). The is no extra charge for attending 2 class in the same week (just punch your card once). Or you could try out both classes and decide what feels best to you, possibly even varying which you attend from week to week.
-Of course, you know how many classes you attended because you used your punch card or other means to keep track, right?

Rental equipment return reminder:
ALL rented equipment must be turned in by Dec 10, even if you hope to rent again in the winter. I will bring your deposit checks with me this week and next, to return to you when you turn in your gear. You do not need to clean the equipment before turning it in, I'll take care of that. The easiest thing is to use the equipment for your last fall class (Dec 5 or 6) and turn it at the end. Just bear in mind that if you miss that class, or if it has to be cancelled for some reason, you will need to bring or ship it to my house. I live near the Snake Mt trailhead (email me for address) and my mudroom is never locked, so you can drop off there at any time.

Here again is the link to my blog post on how to choose and buy fencing equipment. Prices are out of date (check vendor website for those) but general advice is still good:

Here is the least expensive starter set ($158 plus tax and shipping), which is pretty equivalent to what you rented but includes a plastron and the option for a pistol grip. Read the blog above for upgrade options.

For those looking to save money, used equipment can be a good option. If I receive any donated items that would be suitable for you, I'll let you know. You might also have some luck with eBay. Fencing equipment is listed here (oddly, under "Team Sports"):
Do not buy anything labeled "vintage" or that looks worn out (look at the pictures carefully).