Bulletin for the week of February 3, 2020


Should be another normal week of practices, usual times and places, barring any weather problems (remember, if there is a weather-related cancellation, I will send email to this mailing list by 4 p.m)

Looking ahead, we will be using alternative locations over the February school breaks (which occur different weeks in Middlebury and Charlotte). Middlebury classes on Feb 17 and 19 will meet at the Bridge School, while Charlotte classes on Feb 25 and 27 will meet at the Shelburne town gym. I will include a reminder/more info as those dates approach.

The painting project at the Charlotte Congregational Church is finished, so I am once again available for private lessons on Thursday afternoons, this week through mid-March. Coach Geoff continues to offer lessons on Monday nights (as long as at least 2 people sign up for the same evening) and on Tuesdays after Competitive Squad practice. Sign up for lessons with either Geoff or I here:

I am still looking for homes for some used equipment in great shape, half price:
1 pair Absolute fencing shoes, size mens 7.5/womens 8.5, $40
2 small female chest plates, 1 medium male chest plate, $15 each
Please let me know if interested and I'll bring them for you to try on.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record (for those of you old enough to know what that is....): For 27 years now, the VFA has had a tradition of successfully raising our annual operating budget via our winter fund drive. For a long time, I felt like I could just say "fund drive time!" and a large crew of volunteers would step forward to contribute in many ways, from soliciting or being sponsors, to running the raffle, to donating prizes, to selling raffle tickets, to helping run the concession stand, to serving as tournament officials. In recent years, I feel like there has been a trend toward assuming that other people will take on the leadership roles in the fund drive, resulting in the same small group of dedicated volunteers doing the lion's share of the work. I think that is a recipe for burn-out, which in turn means a less successful fund drive. So I will say it again: please, please, please do your part! I mean everyone, from the newest Level 1 student to the most experienced Squaddie, and the parents of all youth and junior fencers. With your help, we will be able to keep fencing affordable for all club members, defray the rising costs of gym space and insurance, keep ourselves well equipped, and offer our Competitive Squad program at no extra charge to fencers who have moved up through our ranks and are ready to push themselves farther.

We need to raise a minimum of $2500 from sponsors and crowdfunding before the actual tournament starts ($3000 would be more comfortable, club record is $3250). That serves as our buffer against bad weather on the tournament weekend. We typically raise at least an additional $1000 at the tournament from the raffle, concessions and t-shirt sales, which brings us up to our goal. As of today, we have raised about $1000 so far.

Here, once again, are the many ways you can participate in the fund drive.

SPONSORSHIPS: Several fencers have reported that the businesses they approached were either a. too far from Middlebury to consider this a local event, b. have a policy of only donating to tax-exempt charities (which we are not). At least one of these businesses (Vt Teddy Bear) donated a raffle prize, so it is still worth asking, as we do need raffle prizes. I am going to ask Middlebury fencers in particular to make the attempt to get a few local businesses on board. FYI, here is a list of Addison County businesses who have donated to our fund drive in the past few years: American Flatbread, Monroe Street Books, SLP Painting, Vermont Sun, Middlebury Physical Therapy, Project Y Theatre Company, Tinker and Smithy Game Store, Depot Farm Supply, Middlebury Eye Associates, Nop's Metal Works, Taylor Rental, Goodro Lumber, Vt Integrated Architecture, Birdseye Builders, Bristol Bakery, Addison County Automotive, Denecker Chevrolet, Desabrais Glass, Foster Motors, G. Stone Motors, Vermont Field Sports, Woodware, National Bank of Middlebury, Neat Repeats, HomeSmith Services, Middlebury Mountaineer. Also, Forth n' Goal Sports gives us a discount on t-shirt printing (I am contacting them). Don't feel restricted to this list (or to Addison County for that matter), but these are some good doors to knock on! This may (or may not) be the last year we print sponsor names on the back of the t-shirt. As of today, I only have 2 businesses to list on the t-shirt, which is kind of awkward - if we are going to spend the money to print on the backs of the shirts, I would like at least 10 businesses to list. I need those names no later than February 13 in order to make the t-shirt printing deadline. Here once again is the sponsor appeal form for you to print out or forward to your favorite businesses:

CROWDFUNDING CAMPAIGN: This is a new aspect to our fundraising, and I am hoping it will live up to its promise and fill in the gap left by the decreasing of business sponsorships. When I shared the GoFundMe appeal to my own Facebook page, I quickly got a bunch of donations (some of which are VFA fencers, to be fair, so thank you if you were one of them!). Leslyn Hall shared it on her page with a nice story about what fencing has meant to her family and why her friends should donate, and got another bunch of donations, bringing us up to $780 (minus GoFundMe's cut). Quite a few of you shared the link more passively (clicked "share" on Facebook, maybe with a short note), and I'm pretty sure that did not net any additional donations. Only 3 of you signed on as team members for the crowdfunding campaign (not a requirement, but could be helpful and give it more legitimacy in the eyes of your friends). The last donation to our GoFundMe page was made nearly a week ago. Here is the deal on crowdfunding (in my limited experience): while you might not have to knock on doors or make phone calls, crowdfunding is not a magical work-free way of getting money. You have to sell it, and sell it actively and repeatedly, to your contacts. You have to be the "crowd" in crowdfunding. This includes using social media and/or email to make an active appeal to your friends. Don't just share the link. Describe to your friends why the VFA is important to you, and why you feel the club deserves their support. Remind them that all donations, no matter how small, are very welcome. If many people kick in a little, this can be a really worthwile fundraising effort. But to work, you have to help it spread beyond my personal circle and into yours. Here again is the link to our GoFundMe page:

If you would like to officially join the VFA crowdfunding team and have your name listed as a team member, and you have lost my original email invitation, email me and I'll resend it to you.   Any member of the offical crowdfunding team who raises $50 on GoFundMe qualifies for free entry to the Middlebury Open.   If you are not a member of the team, I have no way of tracking which donations came through your effort.

RAFFLE: I have been appealing for weeks for someone to step up and take on organizing the raffle, and no-one stepped up. Finally, Karen Cutler, who was last year's Raffle Czarina, sighed and said "I can do it again if nobody else will do it". While Karen will do a great job (thank you!), let's not assume that it is a position for life because she volunteered to do it last year. I would like to see at least 2 other fencers or parents join Karen to run the raffle together, ideally including at least one from the Middlebury group. That way, you can learn the job (it's not difficult, and the raffle itself is a lot of fun) and next year, you can train someone new while Karen takes a break. So please, don't wait for me to come ask you personally (because I will, and I am hard to say no to....), let me know this week if you are willing to help with the raffle. The sooner we have a complete raffle committee, the sooner they can decide on a grand prize and the sooner we can start announcing what the prizes are.

In the meantime, here are 2 ways to contribute to the raffle:
a. If you have anything fun or nice to donate as a prize (no white elephants please), or if you have collected a prize donated by a business, please bring them in to either me or Karen. The more prizes, the better the raffle!
b. Start selling tickets to everyone you know. That friend or relative that won't put $20 in the GoFundMe campaign? They will buy a $1 raffle ticket. Tickets are $1 each or 6 for $5. Here is a link to print out as many as you need (in sheets of 12, so you need to cut them up):
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1863gk7tdm5d9TAZGxQLD8oe3W-CTf0GQ/view?usp=sharing Turn in raffle money and filled in tickets to Karen or I. Winners need not be present at the drawing on March 15.

CONCESSIONS Thank you to Barbara Greenewalt for volunteering to repeat as Cafe Queen. Again, I would like this to be a small committee, including at least one volunteer who has never done it before. So if you can help Barbara organize food sales at the Middlebury Open, please let me (or her) know. This is a great job for a nonfencing parent or partner. We will also need lots of food to sell, such as baked goods, crockpot meals, sandwiches, and snack foods. As the date approaches, I will have more info from our cafe committee as to how to sign up to donate food and/or take a shift manning the concession stand over the tournament weekend.

Okay folks, pick one or more of these things, step up and make it happen!

The Worcester (MA) Fencing Club is holding a one-day clinic for adult female fencers, all weapons and all skill levels, ages 30+, on Sunday March 1. WFC is home to a great bunch of women fencers known as the "Ladies Who Lunge". I attended a training day there over the summer and it was a blast. Karen Cutler and I are planning to go to this one. We have room in the car for at least one more VFA fencer, plus room to stay at Karen's in-laws place near Worcester the night before. Who else wants to come?
Info/sign up here: https://askfred.net/Clinics/whoIsComing.php?clinic_id=46127

The 27th annual Middlebury Open is coming up on March 14-15 at Middlebury Union Middle School. As the only person who has been to 26 of these so far, I will say that this is my favorite fencing tournament in the world. It’s a real festival of fencing, with events for all ages and skill levels, and it’s a party, with spectator-friendly programs, food, raffle, and t-shirts. Foil events are on Saturday and epee and saber events are on Sunday. Seriously, you don't want to miss this. Here are the types of events:

YOUTH (Y12) foil and epee: Open to kids born 2007 or later. Competitive USFA membership not required, beginner and first-time competitors welcome (including members of the winter Level 1 class). Supportive and fun for our youngest fencers.
VETERANS (VetCombined) foil and epee: Open to fencers born 1980 or before. Because it’s fun for adults to play with kids their own age too! In the fencing world, we use the word “veteran” to describe masters athletes (because a fencing master is a teacher…confusing, I know). It has nothing to do with having lots of previous competitive experience (although many vets do), or with having served in the military. If you are old enough to participate in this, no matter your skill level (including current Level 1 students), we want you to sign up!
UNRATED: For fencers born 2006 or before, who have not yet earned a rating. These are the perfect events for first-time and other newbie competitors (including current Level 1 students) to get an introduction to tournament fencing under the guidance of experienced refs. There will be separate male and female foil and epee events, unless there are fewer than 6 of one or both genders (I sure hope we can do a lot better than 6 people, really!).
OPEN (Senior Mixed) foil, epee and saber: For all fencers born 2006 or before. Note that the open foil and open epee events are capped at 54, and a few other events are capped as well (although less likely to fill). The past few years, we have had waiting lists for open epee. So sign up early to guarantee your place in this tournament.

Will the Middlebury Open be your first tournament? Here’s what you need to know:
a. The local Green Mt Division (our branch of US Fencing) is one of the friendliest anywhere, and truly supportive of newbies and recreational athletes. We are not just about producing elite athletes - we believe everyone should enjoy the physical and social benefits of lifelong participation in sports. We run a fencing league, called the Champlain Cup, which features one or two tournaments a month, with the Middlebury Open being the oldest and largest.
b. Would you join a tennis club or basketball league in order to practice, but never play in any games? Tournaments are our games. They give us goals to work toward. My experience has shown that people who get involved in Champlain Cup tournaments tend to stick with fencing longer and get more out of it than those who never participate in tournaments. So while you are welcome to fence only at the VFA, you will get a lot of enthusiasm and encouragement from me to eventually get involved in the Champlain Cup.
c. You are ready for your first tournament when you have learned a basic repertoire of moves (mastery is not required or expected at this point!), have a basic understanding of the rules, and have experienced some practice bouts in the club. For current Level 1 students, all of this will be true by March if you are coming to classes regularly this winter. I will also add this for children: you also need the emotional maturity to handle winning and losing with good sportsmanship, and the intensity of a sport where your own body is the target. Different kids arrive at this point at different ages.
d. All teen and adult competitors (born 2006 or earlier) in all Champlain Cup events must be competitive members of US Fencing. If you are currently a noncompetitive member (all Level 1 and some current Level 2 students), you will need to upgrade to competitive status in order to participate. This must be done on line or over the phone, at least several days in advance of the first tournament you want to participate in. The cost is $65. Here’s the twist: all USFA memberships expire July 31, except if you upgrade to competitive status for the first time after April 1. In that case (spring upgrade), your membership is good through all of next season (until July 2020). The Middlebury Open falls at an awkward time of year - you get better value for your money if you wait until spring, but then you can’t compete in the Middlebury Open. Whether you upgrade now or in the spring, there will be several tournaments in April and May for you to participate in. Membership status is not an issue for youth events, as they do not require it.
e. You do not have to own your own equipment-as long as you sign up by March 9, loaners will be available for you.

Middlebury Open entry fees: $15 for your first event of the weekend, plus $5 per additional event, if registered by Monday, March 9 (although I recommend signing up much sooner than that, as some events may fill up). Entry fee for late registration is $20 first event/$10 per additional event. Or, you can raise $50 or more in sponsorships and/or raffle ticket sales before the tournament, and fence for free!

To register, get directions, see the event times, see who else is coming:

New to using AskFRED? You will first need to create an account. List your club as Vermont Fencing Alliance and your division as Green Mt. Once you are in the database, it is very easy to sign up for future tournaments. If you are having trouble figuring out how to create an account, look here for directions:

Moving the Groundhog Open to Sunday at the last minute (scheduling snafu on Salle Catamount's part) plus some illnesses reduced turn-out, but we still had a fun tournament yesterday. Because the division computer decided to run an hour+ update in the middle of the day, some of the events had to be run by hand, meaning there is a delay in posting results on AskFRED. Therefore, I can only report on the results I remember. Check AskFRED later in the week for full results.

Open Foil (7 competitors, E1 event)
1. Scott Brookes, MOE
2. Viveka Fox, VFA
3. Ray Schuppe, VFA
3. Raymond Hsu, Dartmouth

E-Under Foil (11 competitors, E1 event)
1. Raymond Hsu, Dartmouth - earned E rating
2. Sherwood Smith, SC
3. Sadie Strom, SC
3. Dawn Hathaway, UVFC

Open Epee (? competitors, B1? event)
1. Peter Wolosinski, VFA
2. Vincent Malenfant, SRN
3. Will Nop, VFA
3. Jesse Lussier, VFA

E-Under Epee (12 competitors, E1 event)
1. Justin Elder, SC - earned E rating
2. Emmet Moeykens, UVFC
3. Garrett Kane, VFA
3. Mathilde Rivetti, SRN

I dont' know what the saber results were.

Performance of the Week: It's hard as a coach not to armchair quarterback my fencers' bouts. But now and then a smart and skilled competitor reminds me that the whole purpose of training is to enable you to make good decisions in the moment, on your own. In his semifinal, against a very tall and physically powerful opponent, Peter was behind, and going for toe touches. The armchair quarterback in me was muttering "no, don't do that, it's way too risky given how much he outreaches you by". But then he nailed a couple of them (he later said that he had observed that, while his opponent had a fast hand, he was slow to move his feet). That created a sense of doubt in his opponent, who became more passive and hesitant as a result. Peter then went to town, feinting to the toe to draw a hesitant stop hit and taking the blade to score, or feinting toe and hitting wrist, or pressuring his opponent and then riposting against rushed and poorly timed attacks. The gold medal bout was fantastic. It began with Peter taking an early lead against an opponent was was trying too hard to be tricky - making too many feints and not really committing to his attack, allowing Peter to use his very good eye for the right moment to score. In the second period, his opponent switched tactics and started making simple, fast actions, and forcing a faster-paced bout. This caught Peter by surprise a number of times, and the second period ended tied at 14. In the one-minute break, the armchair quarterback came out and told Peter to try a second intention action - push his opponent with a false attack, pause briefly to allow his opponent the chance to counterattack, then pick up the blade and riposte. Peter set up and executed the second intention perfectly for the win - after which he told me "I didn't know I was doing what you suggested, I just went with what I saw and reacted to it". I guess that means that either I am a brilliant coach and chose something that came naturally to my fencer, or that Peter really doesn't need to be told what to do - either way, it's all good! I also want to compliment both Peter and Vincent for being real gentlemen throughout an intense and close bout, with both of them acknowledging toe touches against themselves and their own hits to the floor - including one that occuring during the 14-14 tie.

Honorable Mentions: It was a great day for VFA epee, with both Will and Jesse scoring close come-from-behind victories in the round of 8 to guarantee 3 of 4 medals to the VFA. Also, welcome to our newest Green Mt Division member Maggie, who improved throughout the day and even scored a few wins in her first sanctioned tournament.