Bulletin for the week of December 9, 2019


This is the last week of fencing for the fall. Note time change for Charlotte.
Middlebury - normal Level 1/2 classes on Monday, normal Level 3 class on Wednesday
Charlotte - Theoretically, town rec basketball begins this week, but in my experience, they usually do not have late practices the first week in December. However, we can't be sure they won't be there. So we will arrive and be ready to start practice at 7:15 (running to 9:15). Worst case scenario, we have to hang out in the hallway and socialize until 7:30, but with any luck, we will be able to start at 7:15. This applies to both the Tuesday Level 1/2 (and CS) and Thursday Level 3 classes.

Level 3 students, don't forget to bring all your own equipment this week, as I am taking club gear out of my car Tuesday night and putting it in the laundry.

Club sweatshirt order is arriving today! If you ordered a sweatshirt or jacket, please pick it up at practice this week, or arrange to pick it up at my house (in Addison). If picking up at a location (Middlebury vs Charlotte) that you don't usually attend, please let me know to expect you (I will sort them by location and only bring those for people I expect to be there). Otherwise, I will bring it for you in January. When picking up at practice, please do not rummage through the bag of apparel unless you ordered something, as several of the items are secret holiday gifts. If you ordered a gift item, you'll have to wait until your fencer's back is turned and sneak it out of the bag (bring something to hide it in).

Reminder: if you wish to continue to rent equipment for winter classes, please let me know as soon as possible by email (if you just tell me at practice I might forget). I will be traveling with only sporadic email from Dec 14-28, so it would be very helpful if you reserve your rental equipment before then.

Dec 13-Jan 5: Holiday break. Winter classes start the week of January 6. Don't forget to spread the word about our winter classes, and encourage your friends to check out our website (www.vtfencingalliance.org) and contact me to sign up!

Saturday Dec 14, Sharon Academy, a tournament for teens and adults born 2006 or before

Event Schedule:
9:30 am Open Foil
10 am E-Under Epee
11:30 am Open Saber
12:30 pm E-Under Saber
1:30 pm E-Under Foil
2 pm Open Epee

The Upper Valley Holiday Open is shaping up to be a good one, but we need a few more competitors to give us D1 E-under events and a C1 open foil event.

First of all, foilists. At the moment, we need 6 more fencers in each of the two foil events to bring them up to 15 (the lower limit for D and C events). If a few more VFA fencers sign up, there is a good chance the events would attract some more NH fencers. So every one of you counts!

Epeeists: The E-under epee event only needs 4 more fencers to make it a D event. The VFA alone has more than enough E and unrated epee fencers to fill out the ranks. Surely at least 4 of you want in on this! Open Epee is already potentially an A2 event.

Since adding a second event only costs $5 more (if you sign up by midnight tonight) and it's a long drive to Sharon, I encourage you to participate in 2 events (either E-under and Open in one weapon, or both E-under events).

Remember, if you sign up by midnight tonight (12/9) you will be not only get a discount, but you will be doing the tournament organizers and your fellow fencers a big favor. Here again is the link:

As I will be out of town for this tournament, I plan to send the club bags of foils, epees and body cords, but can not provide jackets, masks, gloves or underarm protectors (you must have your own for this). If you are a foilist who has signed up and needs to borrow a lame, mask or mask cord, please let me know. I will only send those items if requested.

Time to start thinking ahead for the annual winter fund drive! Between early January and the 27th Annual Middlebury Open on March 14-15, we need to raise most of our operating budget for next season. This money is used for maintaining and replacing club equipment, subsidizing the cost of gym rental to that club dues remain affordable, financial aid for those who need it, paying our Competitive Squad coach, and rewarding our assistant coaches (in the form of modest credits that they can use for fencing expenses). Our goal is to raise $4000+, which we should be able to do if everyone pitches in. The majority of our fundraising comes from sponsorships given by local businesses and civic organizations. For a donation of $25-$100 they get an ad in the Middlebury Open program (bigger donation=larger ad) and a listing on the 2020 Champlain Cup t-shirt. In January, I will email sponsorship forms to you. Start thinking now about who you might approach for sponsorships!

In addition to sponsorships, we always have a raffle. Can you donate a prize for the raffle? Nice things that anyone would want, or fencing-specific prizes are welcome (but no white elephants please). I will make raffle tickets available in January for you to sell far and wide.

Want to be even more involved?
We need one or two volunteers to serve as Raffle Czars/Czarinas. Thank you to Michele Wheeler for volunteering to add a 50/50 drawing to the raffle.
We need a volunteer or small committee to coordinate refreshment sales at the Middlebury Open. Please let me know if you want to be the Cafe King or Queen! It’s a great job for a parent or spouse who will not be competing over the weekend.
We already have a fantastic t-shirt design in the works (Adam Glazer is modifying a really cool drawing he made for posters this fall).
Do you have any new ideas you think we should try for raising money? (Please state them as "I could" rather than "you should")

This year's fund drive will be a critical one. We built up some savings after good fundraising (and/or low expense) years through 2016. We have been spending down savings ever since. Looking at the season start bank balance minus the amount raised in the 2019 winter fund drive, we started this season with only about $400 in savings carried over from previous years. Here are our approximate bank balances at the start of each season (August 1 of that year):
2014 $6560
2015 $5550
2016 $7130
2017 $6970
2018 $5560
2019 $4000

Increasing club dues for Level 3 students this fall gave us some cushion to get through the fall term, so our current balance is still close to $4000. However, most of the Level 3 fencers prepaid their dues for the year (very helpful, thank you!) which means we will not have that infusion of cash in the winter or spring. From 2014 through 2018, the average raised in our winter fund drive was $4300. In 2019, that dropped significantly, to $3600. I observed a significant drop off in engagement in the fund drive - while a number of you were willing to give generously (thank you!), fewer of you were willing to participate actively by getting sponsors or selling raffle tickets last year. We really need both - we are grateful for your donations, but more than anything, we need your time, effort and involvement to have a successful fund drive. I am not asking the same few wonderful stalwarts to do more, I am asking more of you to do a little bit!

One VFA veteran fencer and one VFA alum (daughter of a famous VFA fencer) competed at the December NAC in Salt Lake City this weekend, and both ended on the podium (top 8)!

Div2 Womens Epee (51 competitors, B4 event)
8. Sharon Schuppe (Ottawa, Canada)

Vet70 Mens Foil (17 fencers, C1 event)
6. Rick Davis .... earned E rating

Performance of the Week: This was a personal best for Rick. He went 3-2 in his pool, including a 5-4 victory over the eventual tournament winner (a B-rated, multiple times veteran world team member). In his first DE, he won 10-9 over a D-rated fencer, before losing 10-5 to a skilled world team member with a lifetime of experience in the round of 8. Rick was one of only 2 unrated fencers in the event, and among the 11 fencers he finished ahead of were 5 Ds and 5 Es, so I would say he earned his E rating fair and square! When I texted to congratulate him, he said with characteristic Rick humor "What? I've lost my perpetual unranked status? That was a big part of my identity!". He also reported that what worked for him was "Getting mad. Fast nasty attacks. I stopped trying to fence well and just tried to win however I could. Worked up to a point. The horror is that I'm better at a style of fencing that I dislike than I am at the style I appreciate". Not having been there I can't say how "nasty" those attacks were, but I suspect that if they were completely out of control, they would not have landed. There is nothing wrong with unleashing some speed, as long as it is in service to carrying your point to the target and not carrying your target to the the opponent's point. That distinction is something Rick has struggled with, and improved significantly on this season. While discovering his capacity for intensity and aggressiveness might have felt wild and awkward to Rick, getting your competitive juices flowing is an important, legitimate aspect of fencing. It's not a substitute for good technique or clever tactics, but it just might give you the winning edge!