Bulletin for the week of November 18, 2019


****ATTENTION MIDDLEBURY FENCERS!!**** The weather forecast for later tonight is not so good (ice and sleet). We will have classes tonight, but we will end early to allow people to get home before the roads are too slick. We will start promptly at 6:30, and end at 8:15, so please pick up all fencers by then. Drive carefully and exercise your own judgment if you have a long drive.

Other than an early finish tonight, hopefully the rest of this week we will have a normal practice schedule (I will use this email to update you if that changes).
Next week, November 25-28, there is no fencing. Enjoy your Thanksgiving!
After Thanksgiving, we will have 2 more weeks of fall classes.

Charlotte fencers: CCS basketball starts on Dec 10, so practices from Dec 10 through February break will run 7:30-9:30 (unless we luck out and find that no late basketball practices are scheduled on Tues or Thurs this year - it varies from year to year and we won't know until a few weeks in). I realize this may be prohibitive for our youngest fencers or others with early mornings. A couple of options for you: a. if you live close enough to Middlebury, the Middlebury winter schedule does not change. You are welcome to attend fencing in Middlebury until the Charlotte practice times revert to earlier, and then return to Charlotte. b. You could sit out the first 6 winter classes and join back in for the last 4 (when time shifts back to earlier start) at a prorated amount (this applies only to Level 2 and 3 classes), c. You could sit out the winter session and rejoin in April for the spring. You will remain on my weekly bulletin list, so you will get updates about practice times. If it turns out that we don't have to run late after all (sometimes happens but can't count on it), you can change your mind and rejoin a week or two into winter.

Current Level 1 students: every one of you is invited back for Level 2 this winter (or spring, or whenever you can)! If you would like to continue to rent equipment this winter, please let me know by email (I might not remember if you just say so at practice), so that I can reserve it for you. Considering getting your own equipment? See #2 below (and let me know that you will be returning with your own equipment).

Are you spreading the word and telling your friends about winter classes? Remember, for every friend you recruit to a Level 1 class, you get $5 off your own class fees. I will be sending out info to my prospective student mailing list later this week, so now is the time to encourage your friends to get in touch and get on my email list. Also, this week and the week after Thanksgiving are ideal to invite visitors to check out a class (the final Level 1/2 classes, on Dec 9-10, will not be as typical of what we usually do). I will be traveling Dec 13 through 28 and again Dec 30-Jan 1, so your friends will have an easier time reaching me if they get in touch before I leave.

If you ordered a club sweatshirt or jacket, please bring in your payment this week, if you have not already done so.

Reasons to get your own fencing equipment as soon as possible:
-You can get exactly your size, a front zip jacket, your choice of weapon grip, and an underarm protector (plastron).
-You can take better care of it and wash it more regularly than I do with the club stuff
-You free up rental gear for new beginners to try the sport
-You can drop in to any Charlotte or Middlebury practice without having to check with me as to whether I will have equipment for you
-You can go to any tournament, even ones where I won't be there with rental gear (see #3 below)
-All Level 3 students are required to have their own equipment

Most students buy their equipment in two stages:
a. A basic set, including mask, jacket, glove, plastron, and practice (nonelectric) foil or epee. If you are still exploring whether you want to specialize in foil or epee, I would suggest getting an epee mask (no electric bib) because you can always sew on a bib later if you decide you will be doing a lot of electric foil. Get either the foil or the epee, and you are welcome to borrow the other weapon free of charge for any practice. If buying new, you will save money by purchasing this equipment as a set, rather than a piece at a time. I would recommend ordering on-line from Absolute Fencing in New Jersey (www.absolutefencinggear.com). They are very fast in filling orders and have reasonable prices. Their starter sets range from $116 to $197 depending what you get. You may also be able to piece together some used equipment from eBay or fellow fencers (particularly outgrown children's gear, which is often in good shape).

b. Electric equipment. Required for Level 3, but recommended whenever you are ready to buy some, because once you own it, you can practice with it. Besides the basics (weapon, body cord, and for foil, the metallic vest), fencers gradually build up a supply of extra weapons and body cords over time (so if you are wondering what to get your favorite fencer for holiday or birthday gifts, they always need more equipment!).

Looking for advice on what to buy, how to choose the size, etc? Read this article on our website:
Some prices may be out of date, but otherwise the advice should help you make some decisions. Ask if you have questions!

Important: As soon as you get any new piece of equipment, please please please put your name on it!! All fencing equipment looks alike, and your chances of getting back lost and found equipment is much higher if your name is on it. You can write with sharpie inside your jacket, glove and plastron, on your mask, and under the pad in your weapon. For body cords, you can put a piece of tape with your name.

Do you have unused or outgrown equipment to sell? If you let me know what you have (brand, size, condition, right or left handed, grip type etc) and how much you want for it, I can put an ad for you in the next bulletin.

Saturday Dec 14, Sharon Academy, a tournament for all teens and adults born 2006 or before (youth born 2007 or later, your next event is in January) Events include:
Open (Senior Mixed) foil, epee, saber - open to anyone. If you are a novice competitor and don't mind fencing with more skilled and experienced opponents, you are welcome to participate in open events.
E-Under foil, epee, saber - open to E and Unrated fencers. All newbie competitors are Unrated. These events are restricted to beginning to intermediate skill level, and are perfect for first time and other new competitors.

All teen and adult events (for the rest of the season....) require competitive USFA membership. If you are currently a noncompetitive member, you may upgrade at any time by paying the $65 upgrade fee. All memberships expire July 31, so the sooner you make the upgrade, the more tournaments you can enjoy for your money. You can upgrade on line (www.usafencing.org, click on membership) if you know your user id and password. If not, the easiest way to do it is with a phone call to the national office at 719-866-4511 (it's in Colorado, so 2 hours earlier there). Tell them you are a member of the Vermont Fencing Alliance and Green Mt Division (note: NOT New England or Northeast Division) and that you want to upgrade to competitive. They will take your credit card over the phone, make an instant upgrade, and can also help you set your user i.d. and password so you can renew your own membership next season.

Note: I will be out of town for this tournament. I will need help to transport the club electric equipment to and from Sharon (strip equipment, plus electric foil and epee equipment). I will not be able to supply basic rental equipment (jacket, mask, glove, plastron) for this tournament, so at the least, you must own a basic set to participate (see #2 above - maybe Christmas can come early?). However, loaner electric equipment will be available for all fencers who are registered on AskFRED by December 9.

"But Sharon is so far away..." It's all relative. Because the fencing community is fairly small, with only a handful of clubs, all Vermont clubs are in one division. That means we need to support each other and attend each other's tournaments to keep the Champlain Cup fun and exciting. Several Upper Valley Fencing Club fencers have come to this fall's tournaments in Burlington and Middlebury. Let's show our appreciation by returning the favor. Sharon tournaments often draw Dartmouth and New Hampshire fencers, which is fun. Besides: a. it never snows in Sharon, and b. Worthy Burger.

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

The Age Group Fencerama on Saturday was lots of fun, and what was especially great was that Maggie, Madi, Walter, Jayden, Eve, Merren, Cullen, Simon and Jack fenced in their first tournaments ever (and all of them crushed my legendary first tournament record!), with a few more fencing in their second or third tournament. Congratulations to our medalists!

Youth Foil (11 competitors)
1 Gallagher, Miranda VFA (Char)
2 Fetterolf, Indy VFA (Midd)
3 Biancosino, Kirin VFA (Midd)
3 Rice, Jack VFA (Char)
Spirit Award: Cullen Myers

Youth Epee (8 competitors)
1 Fetterolf, Indy VFA (Midd)
2 May, Ciaran VFA (Char)
3 Biancosino, Kirin VFA (Midd)
3 Hanna, Torrey VFA (Midd)
Spirit Award: Simon Goldenbogen

Teen Foil (7 competitors)
1 Bailly-Hall, Isidora VFA (Char)
2 Kaplan, Isa VFA (Char)
3 Hill, Jansen VFA (Midd)
3 Weston, Henry VFA (Midd)

Teen Epee (8 competitors)
1 Weston, Henry VFA (Midd)
2 Ruiz-Warnock, Kosmo VFA (Midd)
3 Crawford, Chandler VFA (Char)
3 Hardy-Mittell, Walter VFA (Midd)

Adult Foil (6 competitors)
1 Fox, Viveka VFA
2 Davis, Rick VFA (Char)
3 Schuppe, Ray VFA (Char)

Adult Epee (12 competitors)
1 Lussier, Jesse VFA (Char)
2 Rivait, Birk SC
3 Selby, Don VFA

Performance of the Week: The gold medal bout between Isidora and Isa was one of the best foil bouts I have enjoyed reffing in a long time! Maybe knowing they had a small audience of unrated teens watching them inspired them to give a great example of what makes foil a beautiful game. When I asked the newbie spectators what they observed about the bout, the answers included "they are in balance and change direction quickly, their bladework is small and controlled, they are trying to suprise each other, there is a lot of variety in their tactics". Even though the bout was fast paced, the fencers' technique was so good that novice fencers could see the underlying logic and understand what each one was trying to do. Isidora, being the more aggressive of the two, worked off her signature sneaky marching attack, but was willing to switch to second intention when Isa kept the distance large. For his part, Isa's strength is his parry-riposte game, and he set it up by giving convincing invitations followed by a quick retreat, mixed in with sometimes stepping in to provoke infighting, and occasionally attacking to keep his opponent off guard. The bout remained close up to the end, when Isidora began to get a sense of Isa's distance, and extended her attacks to penetrate his defense for a 15-11 win. On top of fencing in a way that made their coach proud, Isidora and Isa volunteered their time to ref the youth foil event. I am going to miss these two when they graduate. Younger and newer fencers, you have some big shoes to fill!

Honorable mentions: First of all, a big huzzah for all the new competitors! It takes guts to try something new, especially if that something involves someone else trying to stab you with a sword. For Miranda, Indy, and Henry, this was their first gold, and first medals for Kosmo, Chan, Walter and Jack - all successes to be celebrated! While Ray finished 5th in a tough adult epee field, he was the only person to beat Jesse, and the only one to completely blank me. Plus, if there was a Spirit Award for adults, Ray would get it for not only fencing both weapons, but being among the first to arrive and last to leave, reffing all day and helping make the tournament a success for everyone. Kudos to Garrett on a strong showing in 4th, highest placement for an E rated fencer adult epee. Rick did some of his best fencing, showing improved control of his point and his feet, pulling off an upset over the higher rated Ray in the battle for second place. Don was also on fire, playing an effective game of "chicken" with his opponents (needless to say, Don rarely gives away his intentions first).

Thank yous: It takes a big team of volunteers to pull off a successful tournament. In this case, myself, Isa, Isidora, Ray, Michele, Tom, Leslyn and Genevieve worked hard all day as refs and meet managers to keep everything running smoothly. Best way to thank these folks? Pay it forward! We will need refs and meet managers for the tournaments we are hosting in January and March. If you are a fencer, learn to ref by asking experienced fencers if you can ref them during practice. They will happily give you feed back and free training (after all, it's in their interest to develop more refs so that we can share the work around). If you are "entourage" (parent or partner of a fencer), learn to meet manage by sitting at the registration table and helping a more experienced manager with the tasks - anyone can do it, no special fencing knowledge is needed.