VFA Bulletin
December 5, 2022

First of all, good news for Charlotte fencers - town rec will not be using the gym past 7 pm for basketball this year, so our practice times with remain unchanged through the winter.

Here is what is on the agenda for this week:
Level 1: We will work on how to be a good training partner, so that as you transition into Level 2/3 classes you are able to work with and help partners who are more experienced than you are. What I am really doing is teaching you to be a fencing coach.
Level 2/3: Pretty much a normal class (on renewed attacks this time)
Competitive Squad: We will end the fall season with an informal in-house competition in the form of a handicap game (where more skilled fencers have to work harder to win, giving everyone a fair shot at winning). The more the merrier, any Level 2/3 teen or adult fencers who want to come and play can do it (even if you haven't regularly attended CS this fall). Electric equipment is recommended but not required (bring it if you have it).

Final reminder: All rented equipment must be turned in this week to get your deposit back, even if you are interested in renting again for the winter. If you miss class this week (or if it is unexpectedly cancelled) you must bring it to my house.

Dec 9 through Jan 4: Winter break. Have a safe and happy holiday!
Thurs Jan 5: Competitive Squad resumes, 7-9 in Charlotte (on a Thursday this one week). So much of our performance is tied up with our mental state, our thoughts and emotions. I am thinking of using this evening to do some sports psychology exercises (mixed in with plenty of bouting). If you are thinking of joining the Squad, this would be a good time to come check it out (for that matter, so would this week's handicap game). I would love to see a group of Middlebury fencers set up a regular carpool for Tuesdays. Competitive Squad is open to any fencer age 13+ with a strong interest in fencing in tournaments (plus a few of our oldest, most experienced youth fencers by invitation). Maturity, focus and work ethic is more important than current skill level.

Week of Jan 10-12: Full schedule resumes, same as fall schedule. I am currently registering new Level 1 students. Please continue to spread the word and tell friends about the VFA, especially in the Middlebury area.

Current Level 1 students, don't forget to tell me your plans for this winter. Are you returning with your own equipment for Level 2? Returning only if you can rent equipment? Repeating Level 1? Taking a break from fencing? Or decided this is not your sport?

Shopping for equipment for yourself or the favorite fencer in your life? Once again, my blog with buying advice (but outdated prices) is here:

Reminder: I will be traveling and mostly out of communication Dec 11-25, so if you have pressing questions, please ask before I leave.

Sat Jan 14, Mary Hogan School in Middlebury: the Mid-Winter Melee
Events: unrated foil and epee, open (senior mixed) foil and epee. All events are for fencers born 2009 or before, and require Access or higher USFA membership

Reasons to sign up for this tournament ASAP:
-So you don't forget and get hit with a late fee (deadline is Jan 9, before we even return from winter break)
-Because it really really helps me and the other tournament organizers plan the event
-Because more names on the list makes the event more attractive to out of state visitors (with only 3 fencing clubs in Vermont, we really need out-of-state fencers to bring some variety and excitement, not to mention entry fees)
-Because there is no penalty for withdrawing if you need to, so why put it off?

Register here:

New to using AskFRED? Directions on creating an account are here:

About unrated events: Unrated events are restricted to unrated fencers (if you don't know what a rating is, you don't have one). That makes them a lot of fun for first-time and other relatively inexperienced competitors. As long as there are at least 6 competitors, the winner earns an E rating. Loaner electric equipment will be available for newbies to borrow. If we have at least 6 fencers of each gender, we will hold separate mens and womens unrated events, to allow two fencers to earn Es and to give our female fencers the enjoyment of fencing with just each other for a change.

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 GMD, 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:

Another fine day of fencing in the record books! Full results can be found here:
Congratulations to the winners of the Holiday Open:

Open Epee (23 competitors, C1 event)
1 Wei, Zikun RPI
2 May, Ciaran VFA - earned D rating
3 Szulzycki, Alexander RPI - earned D rating
3 Grayson, Joshua BOSTON FC -earned D rating

Open Foil (17 competitors, C1 event)
1 Brookes, Scott MOE
2 Horak, Peter MOE
3 Coffin, Carleton RPI
3 Fox, Viveka VFA
also: E ratings were earned by Zachary Averill (5th, from RPI) and Jesse Mehrbach (8th, from UVFC)

Youth Foil (15 competitors)
1 Marcoux, Alexander UVFC
2 May, Francis VFA
3 Biancosino, Paras VFA
3 Naor, Alona UVFC

Performance of the Week: I was so busy reffing youth fencers I did not get to watch much of the epee, but it was clear who was having a great day when I looked over and saw Ciaran fencing in the gold medal match. Two of his refs emailed to nominate him. Jesse said: "Ciaran fenced with confidence and focus. He mixed it up by making convincing second intentions, quick countertimes, landing several nice hand touches, and using good distance control keeping himself juuust out of reach, all of which seemed to frustrate his opponents. His last 2 DE opponents had very different styles. The first was stronger, fencing with a pistol grip, and he liked to parry and close distance fast. The second was taller, with a long lunge and posting a French grip. Ciaran did a great job of adjusting to each opponent as the matches progressed. He fell behind by two points, at least once, in each match. Instead of rushing in and making hasty mistakes he walked back to the on guard line, reset himself, and adjusted his tactics to take back the lead and earn the wins." Michele added: "Ciaran rarely seemed ruffled or upset when he was behind, never rushing. His last 3 DEs were with older fencers, 1 adult and two collegiate fencers. In his quarter final against a lefty, he scored a picture perfect under wrist touch while retreating. When his opponent attacked again on the very next phrase- Ciaran repeated the move with the same success. It was excellent! In Ciaran's semi-final , he used his slight height advantage against his opponent's smoother and more agile footwork. It teetered back and forth before tying at 14, with Ciaran getting the final winning touch." I will also add that Ciaran started DEs seeded 12th, and upset the 5th, 4th and 8th seeds on his way to a medal and a new rating!

Honorable Mentions: First of all, a salute to all of our first-time competitors: Tim, Daphne, Cooper, Owen, Aiden, Otis, Joey and Claire. It was a pleasure to ref the youth foil event. Francis added to the May household's collection of silver medals, while Paras earned his first medal ever. Elise had a sore ankle, but actually came back to fence better after taping it, winning 2 pool bouts and a DE (I have threatened to hit her leg with a hammer before every tournament from now on....). Of the many Level 1 kids fencing in their first tournament, Cooper did the best (after jokingly telling me at practice that he was going to "rage quit" if he got clobbered - hey, whatever gets you going Cooper!). Miranda, a high school girl, only lost to skilled adult men. And I'm pretty pleased that among the foil medalists, I'm the only one to whom the words "little" "old" and "lady" could be applied.

Thank yous: It takes a big team of volunteers to put on a tournament, and I'm happy to see more fencers and parents helping out. I especially want to acknowledge a dedicated group of folks who were among the first to arrive in the morning and the last to leave at the end of the day. Michele, Genevieve and Deirdre took charge of meet management (which gets ever more impressive as they learn all the features of Fencing Time!), with Michele also doing a lot of epee reffing. Ray was jack-of-all-trades, from pre-tournament computer prep to set up (he figured out how to shoehorn 8 strips into a small gym) to reffing whenever needed, to making sure everything got packed up correctly. Ethan, Miranda and Rick reffed the youth foil event and generally made sure the kids had a fun learning experience. At the end of the day, Ethan and Miranda were still there, helping pack up. Ethan reffed his first hotly contested open event semi-finals and earned kudos from Scott Brookes, who is an excellent ref and coach (he's not easily impressed, so nice job Ethan!). John and Karen ran an armory workshop for most of the day and did all kinds of equipment troubleshooting (from mysteriously failing epees to a broken table....armorers do it all). When it was all over, I can attest that this team of volunteers was exhausted - but I got a nice text from the VCS principal saying "I just stopped by and it's cleaner than we left it for you!! Please take $50 off whatever you were going to pay because of the cleaning. Thank you!" Best way to thank our tournament volunteers? Join them! Learn the skills and contribute as a meet manager, ref and/or armorer at future tournaments.