Bulletin for the week of January 27, 2020


I anticipate all practices at the normal times in the normal places this week. Middlebury, we are back at Mary Hogan School.

Date for this weekend's Groundhog Open tournament has been moved from Sat Feb 1 to Sun Feb 2. See #2 for more details.

We have added a crowdfunding campaign to our annual fund drive. See #3 for details. We are still looking for a raffle organizer.

For sale:
1 pair Absolute fencing shoes, like new condition, size mens 7.5/womens 8.5, $40 (would be $80 new).
3 womens full chest protectors, 2 size small (for tween, teen or petite woman), 1 size M (although it seems pretty large, would fit most women except for the very well endowed), $15 each. These offer much better protection than the little cup thingies that go in the jacket pockets, so may be worth buying even if renting your jacket from me. The M includes the padded covering required for sanctioned foil events, the others are unpadded (but great for epee, practice, youth events, or buying the padding to stick on, which is very easy to do).
1 good quality, heavy duty underarm protector (also called a plastron), size M (will fit most people except the largest adults), $10. These are required for all USFA tournaments, and very highly recommended for everyone (I never fence without mine).
I will bring these items to practice this week for you to check out/try on.

So, due to a scheduling error (not the first time and probably won't be the last for the college club), the Groundhog Open tournament has been moved from this Saturday to this Sunday, Feb. 2. The venue is still the indoor track (Gutterson Field House building) at UVM.
The event schedule remains the same:
9 a.m: Open (senior mixed) foil, E-under Epee
12 pm Open saber
1:30 pm E-under foil
2 p.m Open (senior mixed) epee.

If you registered for the tournament on Saturday and can not make it on Sunday, please take your name off the AskFRED list (Sign in to AskFRED, click "MyFRED" and "My tournaments". You will see a list of events you are registered for, with a little red X next to each. Click the X to unregister. If this doesn't work, email the organizer and let them know you are not coming). If you had a conflict for Saturday but you can make it after all now that it is on Sunday, go ahead and sign up! If you signed up for Saturday and want to remain signed up for Sunday, you do not have to do anything at all.

If you haven't signed up for the tournament yet, it's not too late to get the discounted entry fee - in fact, with the date being moved back a day, the discount deadline moves a day also, so you have until midnight tomorrow (Tues Jan 28) to sign up. This tournament features E-under events just for beginning to intermediate level competitors! If an E-under event has 15+ competitors, including at least 4 Es, the winner earns a D rating, and 2nd and 3rd earn Es. It would be awesome to get some new D rated fencers in the Division!

Note to unrated fencers: You are very welcome to participate in open events (as well as E-under) for added experience, if you wish (skilled competitors do not look down on newbies, we were all beginners once). Or, if you enjoy fencing both foil and epee, sign up for both E-under events. But please do not sign up for 2 events that start within a half hour of each other. Loaner equipment will be available for those who need it, as long as you sign up several days in advance so I know you are coming. But really, it's much better if you sign up by Jan. 28 - you get a discount on your entry fee, and it really really helps the organizer plan for the tournament.

Entry fee if registered on AskFRED by midnight Jan. 28: $15 for your first event/$5 per additional event. If you sign up after Jan. 28, it's $20 for your first event/$10 per additional event.

For information on the Groundhog Open (event schedule, directions, who else is signed up), and to register:

New to using AskFRED? Directions are here:

For a number of reasons, the business sponsorships we have depended on for years seem to be drying up. Therefore, I would like to try something new this year for our fund drive. I have set up a team GoFundMe campaign for the VFA. Find it here:

Unlike selling program ads, there is no minimum donation amount, crowdfunding allows you to appeal to individuals as well as businesses, allows VFA alumni to participate (several already have - thank you!), and can be done entirely on line (no phone calls, no shoe leather). Although GoFundMe takes a small cut of all donations, I am hoping this will broaden our fundraising ability in a worthwhile way. It's about time we join the 21st century, right?

I encourage all of you to click on the link, make a donation if you wish, and most important, share this crowdfunding campaign with as many of your friends as possible, via social media or email. Over the weekend, I sent all currently active club members a special link to join the fundraising team (and at least one of you figured out how to actually do it....). If you join the official fundraising team for this campaign, your name appears (along with mine and whoever else signs on) as an organizer when someone goes to look at the page above. This might help you convince your friends that this is a legitimate request. It also allows you to track which contributions came from your friends (versus from other folks). However, joining the fundraising team is not a requirement to participate - you can also simply share the GoFundMe page (as a number of you have already done), hopefully with a personal note (what fencing means to you, why you hope your friends will donate to the VFA).

I'm still planning to accept business ads for the Middlebury Open program and t shirt (at least for one more year), so if you have any in the works, that is great, keep them coming! If nothing else, approaching businesses often yields good raffle prizes (while fewer businesses are willing to donate cash to small organizations that do not have 501c3 status, many are still happy to give a product or gift certificate for the raffle).

Speaking of the raffle....fencers are starting to ask me how to get tickets to sell, what the prizes will be etc. The answer to that is: we still need a Raffle Czar (or co-czars)! There are several people who have done it multiple times (thank you especially Leslyn and Don). While I'm sure past raffle czars will be happy to advise a newbie, it's time for a new volunteer to step up and take on the raffle project. It is not a difficult or time-consuming job (although you should plan to be present at the Middlebury Open, March 14 and especially 15 when the drawing is held). It can be sociable and fun. For the past few years, the raffle has netted about $700 for the club. It is a perfect job for a parent or partner who wants to support their favorite fencer, but it can be (and has been) done by an active fencer. So, please step up this week, and hail to the new Raffle Czar, Czarina or oligarchy!