Bulletin for the week of January 13, 2020


This week after Level 1/2 class, we will play a "mixer" game that gives you a chance to fence a bunch of different people. For our Level 1 students, this is their first real chance to improvise and try some real fencing, while for Level 2, it's your chance to meet and get to know the new club members (plus, the Drawbridge Game is always fun). So I encourage everyone to stay after class for as late as they care to (even if that is only for 10 minutes because you have an early bedtime).

ATTENTION CHARLOTTE FENCERS: Town rec has confirmed that there is no basketball on Tuesdays this year (yay!). Therefore, Tuesday (Level 1/2 and CS) practice time will be 6:30-9 from now on. I spoke to the coach of the Thursday basketball team, and they plan to end at 7. Therefore Thursday (Level 3) practices will be 7-9:20 (cleaned up and out by 9:30). Once basketball ends in late February, we will shift Thursday back to a 6:30 start as well.

ATTENTION MIDDLEBURY FENCERS: Mary Hogan School is closed (MLK Day) next Monday, January 20. We will meet for that evening at the Bridge School (1469 Exchange St, Middlebury, VT, looks like a large barn with blue roof, on corner with route 7). Time frame remains 6:30-9. There is a dance class in the gym until 6:30 there, so please wait quietly in the library until they finish.

Things everyone should always bring to all practices: clean dry sneakers, sweatpants or similar (no shorts or thin tights), water bottle

Private lesson update: Charlotte Congregational Church is being painted and will not be available on 1/16 or 1/23 (1/30 is a maybe). I have modified my Visibook sign ups to reflect that. Lessons with coach Geoff are available on Monday and Tuesday evenings by appointment and are not affected by this.

Have you paid your fall term fees? If not, please bring payment in this week.

The most important part of our annual fund drive has always been sponsorship from local businesses, organizations and individuals. Sponsorships are donations of $25 or more, in return for which the sponsor gets an ad in the Middlebury Open program and a listing on the tournament t-shirt. Sponsorships are important because: a. they are collected in advance, and therefore can not be reduced by bad weather or poor attendance at the Middlebury Open, b. they represent a larger dollar amount compared to the other aspects of our fund drive and have no initial outlay (compared to $1 for a raffle ticket, a few bucks for a typical food purchase, a few bucks profit per t shirt after printing costs).

I have placed a copy of the sponsorship form in Google Drive for you to download and print as many copies as you need. Here is the link:
If you can not open or print this link, please email me and I will send you one as an attachment.

Here is how to be an A-rated fundraiser:
1. Make a list of individuals (friends and relatives), businesses (your employer, your favorite shops and restaurants, businesses owned by friends or family, businesses you know to have a history of supporting community fundraising efforts, businesses in or near Middlebury that might like a local advertising opportunity) and organizations (civic groups like Lions or Rotary, charity shops like Neat Repeats, etc). Your list can be as long or short as your time and/or personal connections allow. The important thing is that all of us contribute some effort to this. Helpful hint: I am guessing that you will have the most success with independent and local businesses. While larger corporations do have philanthropic programs, they often require the recipient to be a registered 501-c3 charity (which we are not).

2. Print out as many copies of the sponsorship form as you need, or if you prefer to contact your potential sponsors by email, you can just forward the form to them. Introduce yourself (whether in person, by email or over the phone) and let them know that you are participating in a fundraiser for your fencing club. Ask whether you can leave a sponsorship form for the owner or manager (or send them one).

3. I have created a GoogleDoc for us to log which businesses we are approaching, so that multiple fencers don't pester the same business with duplicate requests. Here is the link:
Once you have decided which businesses to approach, please add them to the log (and check that no-one else has already decided to approach that business). You do not need to log individual sponsors (i.e. friends and family), just businesses and organizations.
If you are unable to open this link, you can just email me your list of businesses and I will add them for you.

4. After a few days, follow up with the businesses you gave forms to, and ask whether they will make a donation. If they say no, you might ask whether they could consider donating a raffle prize (goods or a gift certificate) in lieu of cash - those are always welcome. If they say yes, arrange to pick up their check and ad, or have them sent directly to me (my address is on the form).

As an incentive, any fencer who raises $50 or more gets free entry fees for the Middlebury Open. On top of that, whoever gets the greatest number of different sponsors (at any level) gets 12 free raffle tickets.
In order to list a sponsor on the t-shirt, I must have their name and amount donated by February 13. That is one month from today, so let's get started. I am relying on every one of you to help out with this. The VFA has about 70 active members. If just half of us get $50 in sponsorships and the other half get a single $25 sponsor, we would have $2625 in the bank before the Middlebury Open even happens. We can do this!

I am still looking for someone (or a small group of someones) to take charge of the raffle this year. Please let me know soon if you are willing to help with this.

Thank you all for participating in the 2020 fund drive, and keeping the VFA in operation for another season.

What: MidWinter Melee 2020
Where: Mary Hogan School, Middlebury
When: Saturday Jan. 18. Event Schedule
10 a.m Open (Senior Mixed) Epee
10:30 a.m Youth (Y10-Y12) Foil
12 pm Open Saber
1 p.m Youth (Y10-Y12) Epee
1:30 pm Open (Senior Mixed) Foil

Who: I recommend this for all fencers in Level 2 and 3 classes! You do not need to be an expert to enjoy our friendly local tournament scene. You do not even need to own your own equipment (as long as you preregister in time). You just need a sense of adventure and motivation to learn and improve your fencing. For the youngest kids, you also need to be comfortable with fencing with larger opponents (up to age 12) and have the maturity to handle winning and losing with good sportsmanship (a great life lesson that parents may need to help with!).
If born in 2007 or later, sign up for Youth events. The Green Mt Division Youth tournaments do not require any membership upgrade, just sign up and show up! Bring your Youth Passport and get your next sticker (stickers from 3 of the 4 annual youth tournaments gets you a prize).
If born 2006 or earlier, sign up for Open (senior mixed) events. Note: Competitive USFA membership is required for teen and adult participants in all tournaments. The easiest way to upgrade is to call the national office at 719-866-4511 (in CO, 2 hours earlier there), although if you know your user id and password, you can do it on line. Please do it at least 2 days before your first tournament, and bring proof of membership. An upgrade from noncompetitive costs $65 and is valid through July. The sooner you do it, the more tournaments you can participate in! While the MidWinter Melee does not have any special events for newer competitors, there will be E-under events at the Groundhog Open in February, and Unrated events at the Middlebury Open (which you definitely don't want to miss....).

Why: The Champlain Cup is the Green Mt Division's fun, friendly fencing league. Think of it as joining a local tennis or softball league. Would you just go to practices and never play in any games? Tournaments are our games. All fencers of all levels are welcome, no one sits on the bench, and everyone gets to use electric equipment (club loaners available), make new friends, learn by trying to apply your skills to actual bouts, and have something really interesting to talk about at school or work on Monday morning. We even give a Rookie of the Year award at the end of each season! As a coach, it makes me happy to see new people getting involved in the Champlain Cup league, learning and growing as fencers, and having fun. I am always happy to answer newbie questions! The Green Mt Division constantly needs new fencers to keep our league growing. Everyone was a beginner once, and you will be welcomed and supported even if you don't win a single bout (ask me about my legendary first tournament....). Today's newbies are tomorrow's dedicated, skilled competitors.

Entry fees if registered by midnight tonight: $15 for your first event plus $5 per additional event. Late registrations (after Jan 13): $20 for your first event plus $10 per additional event. Have I mentioned that early registration really helps me plan the tournament?

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

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