Bulletin for the week of January 6, 2020


Happy new year, fencers!

Welcome to the 12 new club members who are starting Level 1 classes this week (we are expecting 5 new members in Middlebury and 7 in Charlotte). Please check out item #3 of this bulletin, where you will find complete information on what to expect at your first class. We still have room in both Level 1 classes, so if you have an interested friend who misses this week, have them get in touch with me, it's not too late to join.

For those of you new to the VFA, I send out this e-mail newsletter weekly, usually on Monday. The purpose of the VFA Bulletin is to keep everyone informed of what's happening in the club, the Green Mt Division, and the fencing world in general. In the Bulletin you will find important notices (such as changes in our practice schedule that may come up), tournament results , used equipment for sale, and news about fencing and fencers. I am not known for being short-winded, and the Bulletins can be pretty long sometimes, but I hope that you will at least skim the headlines to see if any information applies to you. In deference to those of you with limited time or short attention spans, I will always put pressing information in the first item, stuff which is less important for everyone to read further down the page, and tournament results at the end. Please keep me up to date if your e-mail address changes, or if you want additional addresses added to the mailing list.

If we need to cancel practice due to winter weather, I will send an e-mail using this bulletin list by 4 p.m.. If you can not check your e-mail then, please call me and confirm there is practice before driving in bad weather (802-759-2268). Snow days will be made up in March if needed. Rule of thumb: if our host school is closed, so are we.

Now that winter is here, please make sure not to track snow, water or mud on to the gym floor. Remove boots outside of the gym and change into your fencing shoes. In Charlotte, please bring your boots into the gym with you-don't leave them in the hallway as they will be in the way of the custodian. Middlebury: leave boots on mat by south gym door.

ATTENTION CHARLOTTE FENCERS: As soon as town rec basketball season ends (late February), or if we find out that basketball is not in fact using the gym until 7:30, we will move the Charlotte practices back to an earlier time frame. It may be a moving target for a while, so please keep an eye on your weekly bulletin for announcements. For this week, let's plan to meet at 7:15 both Tuesday and Thursday. If the gym is open, we will go right in, if not, we will just socialize in the hallway for a few minutes.

It is important to start classes on time - especially in Charlotte, where the start time is already quite late and practice time is shorter. Please arrive early enough that you are dressed and ready to begin right at the scheduled time. Level 1 students should try to come about 15 minutes early for the first class, to take care of registration "paperwork" (filling in a database on a laptop to register you as US Fencing members).

Winter term fees are due this week. Here's what various people owe:
Level 1 student, including equipment rental, plus club and USFA dues: $140
Returning Level 2 student, with equipment rental: $130
Returning student, with own equipment: $110 for Level 2, or $120 for Level 3 student
Those who prepaid dues for the year in September: $100
Punch card: $65 for 5 classes or $120 for 10 classes, must have own equipment, must pay club dues in addition
Please bring exact change or check payable to Viveka Fox
-Charlotte fall Level 1/2 students: take $10 off to make up for the weather cancellation we could not make up
-$5 off for each friend you recruited to sign up for the winter Level 1 class
-Free equipment rental for any family with 3+ members in the club.

Did you get some new fencing gear for the holidays? Make sure to put your name on everything you own, before you bring it in to the club! A lot of equipment looks alike, and you have a much better chance of getting lost stuff returned if it's labeled.

Are you a returning fencer who still needs to rent equipment? At present, I am reserving equipment for the returning fencers listed below (in addition to all the new club members who have signed up). If your name is not on this list and you wish to rent, please let me know right away.
Middlebury: Samantha L, Peter C, Jaden, Walter
Charlotte: Yuri, Avery, Maggie, Gabriel

Are you the kind of learner who finds written descriptions helpful? I e-mail detailed lesson plans for all the Level 1 and 2 drills weekly to my assistant coaches. I also e-mail lesson plans weekly in advance of Level 3 classes to students who request them. I would be happy to send these e-mails to anyone who would find written lesson plans helpful in understanding or remembering our classes. Just let me know, and I'll add you to the weekly circulation list.

The VFA is hosting the next Champlain Cup tournament, the 2020 MidWinter Melee, on Saturday Jan. 18 at Mary Hogan School in Middlebury.

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

Youth events are open to all kids born 2007 or later. Competitive USFA membership is not required for Youth Events. Loaner equipment (including electric) is available for all who need it, as long as you sign up by Jan 15 (but really, please sign up by Jan 13, not only is it super helpful to me in planning, but you get a discounted entry fee). The October youth events in Middlebury were great - I hope to see even more kids coming out for this one! These events are suitable for all youth fencers currently in Level 2 classes (including those who just started fencing this fall). It's a chance for kids to fence others their age in a supportive learning environment. Loaner equipment is available for all who need it. This winter's youth events will be in January (MidWinter Melee) and March (Middlebury Open).

Open events are open to all fencers born 2006 or earlier. Competitive USFA membership is required. Are you a teen or adult fencer considering getting involved in our fun, friendly local tournament scene? The sooner you upgrade your USFA membership to competitive status (at usafencing.org or over the phone, by paying the $65 upgrade fee), the more tournaments you will get for your money. Beginners who don't mind fencing with more skilled fencers are welcome at the MidWinter Melee. The Groundhog Open (Feb 1, Burlington) and the Middlebury Open (our not-to-be missed annual blow-out, March 14-15) both feature events for less experienced competitors (look for events labeled E-under or Unrated). You don't need to own equipment (the club has loaners), be an expert or be a cut-throat competitor to enjoy our local Champlain Cup tournaments. In fact, coming out and playing is the best and most fun way to move forward as a fencing student!

Entry fees if registered by midnight January 13: $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: https://askfred.net/Events/whoIsComing.php?tournament_id=44898

Coming to your first fencing class this week? Here's what to expect:
Please arrive about 20 minutes early for your first class to complete the USFA noncompetitive membership registration process. You will need to fill in some data (name and address sort of stuff) on a laptop, and sign a liability waiver (if under 18, parent also needs to sign). You will also need the extra time at the first class to sort out your rental equipment.

a. Wear loose comfortable long pants - no shorts - (sweatpants are ideal), a t-shirt, and bring clean indoor sneakers. If you have a choice of sneakers, court shoes (those made for volleyball, raquetball, indoor soccer etc) work better than running shoes (which have a wedge shape to the sole). Bring a water bottle (important-there is not a fountain in the gym).

b. I have assigned each person a mask and jacket based on the size information you gave me. I will have a printed list of names and equipment assignments. Your mask and jacket may not have the same number (the equipment is not in sets, each item is numbered individually). The masks live in a large red duffel bag and the jackets live in a smaller red duffel bag. Mask numbers are written on the sides and back, jacket numbers are on the collars. When you arrive, find your mask and jacket and set them aside somewhere along the edge of the room. Then find any glove that fits your dominant hand (you only need one glove, and you don't need to use the same one each week). The gloves live in a zippered tote bag that lives inside the same duffel as the jackets. Finally, take a foil from the long black bag. Foils with red tape on the handles are for lefties. Foils with yellow tape on the handles are for smaller children. Foils with blue tape on the handles are for righties. We have a mix of traditional French grip foils, and modern pistol grip foils. I would like Level 1 students to start with a French grip for the first month or so, but then encourage you to try a pistol grip. Set the glove and foil aside with your other gear. One more piece of equipment for adult and teen women: in the bag with the gloves are some plastic cups called breast protectors. You insert these in the pockets in your jacket lining and they protect you from hard hits to the chest (plus they make you feel like Xena the warrior princess). When you are finished for the evening, please do me a big favor and pack all rental equipment back in its bags (that would be IN the bag - not just near it or on it).

c. Class will always start with a warm-up - a moment of breathing and focussing, a game to get everyone loosened up, and a set of exercises to increase your flexibility, strength and balance. The next thing we will do is footwork exercises, as the most important thing in fencing is how you move your body (what you do with the blade is secondary to this). Often, these are done without equipment on, but sometimes I will ask you to get dressed in your gear at this point. The final part of class is the bladework drills. Here, we will teach new moves or new combinations, and you will practice them with a partner. We rotate partners often, so that you get used to fencing with people of all shapes and styles. For most bladework drills, we will divide into groups - Level 1 foil, Level 2 foil and Level 2 epee, and each group will be given a different set of drills. Drills require that you take turns with your partner playing the role of the trainer (the person who gets hit) and of the fencer (the person who does the hitting). It is important that you pay attention to both aspects of the drill when it is being taught so that you can be a good trainer, and that you let your partner hit you when it is their turn to do so.

d. I have several advanced students who help me teach. They are experienced competitors who enjoy sharing their knowledge with beginners. Please use them as a resource - ask them questions and pay attention when they correct your technique.

e. Class will end with you saluting your classmates and instructors to thank them for working with you. Then the real fun begins! By the second week, you will be ready to play a game that introduces you to some limited improvisation, and by the third week, you will learn the rules of foil and be ready to fence your first real bouts. I encourage you to stay after class and fence bouts with other club members. Don't worry about the score (in fact, I encourage you not to keep score most of the time), just try to apply the techniques you are learning against real opponents. Whether you can stay for just 5 minutes after class or all the way until closing time, please do try to stay for a while and not just go home when the structured class ends.

f. If you are ever sick, out of town, etc and have to miss a class, I am happy to come in a few minutes early the following week to give you a quick catch up. Just remind me by email that you want to do that. Also, if you have to miss a class, it is often possible to attend in the other location instead (just check with me first to make sure I have rental equipment for you, as much of it is shared).

g. Finally, one of the best ways to become a good fencer is to watch good fencers. There are often experienced fencers around the club bouting with eachother on Monday and Tuesday nights, and they don't mind your watching them and asking them questions. It's also interesting to attend a few tournaments as a spectator (and it may help you work up your nerve to participate in a tournament or two by the end of the season). The first tournament of the winter is the Mid-Winter Melee, January 18 at Mary Hogan School in Middlebury. Spectators are welcome free of charge. Open epee and saber finals will take place around 1-3 pm (best guess), and open foil finals (probably the most interesting thing for new Level 1 students to watch) will take place in the late afternoon (best guess, 4:30-6 pm), and there are also youth events for children.

Whether you are an experienced fencer preparing for upcoming competitions or a newer student looking to make faster progress, private lessons are a great supplement to group classes. Private lessons are available from me on every Thursday afternoons in Charlotte, and by appointment on Wednesday afternoons in Middlebury (let me know if you are interested), and from Geoff Butler in the last hour of Monday (Middlebury) and Tuesday (Charlotte) evening practices. All lessons cost $20 and last 20-25 minutes. You can take lessons regularly or occasionally, from either or both of us, it's up to you. Geoff and I offer "one stop shopping" to sign up for lessons, using a website called Visibook. Please use this link to see what time slots are available and to sign up:

It's that time of year again - time for the annual VFA fund drive! Between now 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, scholarships for low-income students to take our classes, financial aid for qualified athletes to travel to regional and national competitions and camps, 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 easily if everyone pitches in. The fund drive is especially important this year. With the launch of the new Competitive Squad program, we have additional expenses (Geoff's time, additional space for private lessons, and more Squaddies taking advantage of the opportunity to earn teaching credits). While we are certainly not broke (we have about $3500 in the club account as of today), our balance is the low compared to anticipated expenses. So please, I am counting on all of you to help however you can: get (or purchase) sponsorships, sell (and buy) raffle tickets, volunteer.

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 the next week or so, I will email sponsorship forms to you. Print or forward as many as you like and ask your favorite businesses and organizations to sponsor us. The more you ask, the more likely you are to succeed. Sponsorships must be turned in by Feb. 20 in order to make it onto the t-shirt, so get started! Anyone who raises $50+ fences for free in the Middlebury Open.

In addition to sponsorships, we always have a raffle. I am looking for a volunteer (or small team of volunteers) to serve as Raffle Czar (help organize raffle, select a grand prize, help collect tickets and money). 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 believe we will also be adding a 50-50 raffle this year.

We will once again tap the talent of our in-house professional artist Adam Glazer, who is going to modify his cool new poster design (featuring a modern fencer and a historical swordsman back to back) for this year's t-shirt.

I am looking for a volunteer or several 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.

The Upper Valley Holiday Open was held in Sharon on December 14. Congrats to all the finalists!

Open Foil (9 competitors, E1 event)
1 Brookes, Scott MOE
2 Horak, David UVFC
3 Bailly-Hall, Isidora VFA
3 Hanlon, Killian MOE

Open Saber (6 competitors, E1 event)
1 Bidwell, Ryder PFA CT - earned E rating
2 Hanlon, Killian MOE

Open Epee (31 competitors, A2 event)
1 Horak, Peter MOE
2 Schroeder, Robert RIVERSIDE
3 Wolosinski, Peter VFA
3 Nop, Will VFA - earned B rating
5 Schuppe, Raymond VFA
6 Horak, David UVFC
7 Rouse, Joseph CANDLEWOOD
8 Walting, Paul UNAT

E-Under Foil (8 competitors, E1 event)
1 Schuppe, Raymond VFA
2 Kaplan, Isa VFA
3 Murdoch Roy, Charlie CONCORD
3 Parris, Tom VFA

E-Under Saber (6 competitors, E1 event)
1 Bidwell, Ryder PFA CT
2 Hathaway, Dawn UVFC

E-Under Epee (10 competitors, E1 event)
1 Cambias, Robert RIVERSIDE - earned E rating
2 Moeykens, Emmet UVFC
3 Murdoch Roy, Grace CONCORD
3 Cutler, Karen VFA

Performance of the Week: I wasn't there to give a full report, but I am happy to see two of our hardest working fencers finished with medals. Will's goal has been to make the most of his last season in the VFA before he goes off to college, not only practicing regularly in Middlebury but often coming to Charlotte to get in some extra practice. It has paid off, as he earned his C rating at the first tournament of the season, and 2 months later, earned his B rating. Karen is an example of why I love teaching adult students. Veteran fencers may not have the speed and reaction time of the youngsters, but they make up for it by paying attention to detail, constantly analyzing and asking thoughtful questions. Karen has shown so much dedication and enthusiasm toward fencing, I was happy to see her get a little hardware to acknowledge her hard work!