VFA-in-Exile
Bulletin for the Week of August 24

1. FALL FENCING INFORMATION
Due to Covid-19, fencing this fall will be different than in past years. We will return to our regular format when it is safe to do so, and our host schools (Mary Hogan and Charlotte Central) give permission. For the meantime, I plan to offer a series of outdoor Saturday classes in September and October. Instead of a 10-week session running mid-September through mid-December, this will be an 8 week (weather permitting) session, running early September through late October. The Saturday classes are open to all returning club members, ages 9 through adult, who have completed at least Level 1 (or the equivalent via private lessons). I especially want to encourage our newer club members (those who started last fall or winter) to return! We will not be offering any beginner classes until we are back in our regular gyms, although beginners may start via private lessons (see below).

Instead of breaking the club into Level 2 and Level 3 groups, I would like to work with you by weapon group for this special fall session. You may choose to sign up for any one of 4 class groups: Middlebury Epee, Middlebury Foil, Charlotte Epee or Charlotte Foil. Please sign up for only one of the class groups to begin with. If there is space after 9/3, you may add yourself to a second group. Don’t worry if you can’t make some of the classes - sign up if you think you will be able to make at least 4 of them.

Each class will be 90 minutes (approx. 15 minutes warm up/footwork, 30 minutes bladework drills, 45 minutes bouting games and/or open fencing). Each class is limited to 16 fencers. Minimum class size to run is 6. If both Middlebury and Charlotte are equally convenient for you, I encourage you to sign up for the Middlebury class, to avoid the larger Charlotte groups becoming oversubscribed.

To sign up for the September/October outdoor classes, click here:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/12pLHpKCg-sIt26SKFIjy9Ff-pd59To36OGBt2_xgqFU/edit?usp=sharing

Proposed schedule (tentative, subject to change, and weather dependent)

9/5 (raindate 9/6) and 9/12 (raindate 9/13)
9:30-11 a.m Midd Epee
11 am-12:30 pm Midd Foil
2-3:30 pm Char Epee
3:30-5 pm Char Foil

9/19 (raindate 9/20) and 9/26 (raindate 9/27)
9:30-11 a.m Midd Foil
11 am-12:30 pm Midd Epee
2-3:30 pm Char Foil
3:30-5 pm Char Epee

10/3 (raindate 10/4) and 10/10 (raindate 10/11)
9:30-11 a.m Char Epee
11 am-12:30 pm Char Foil
2-3:30 pm Midd Epee
3:30-5 pm Midd Foil

10/17 (raindate 10/18) and 10/24 (raindate 10/25)
9:30-11 a.m Char Foil
11 am-12:30 pm Char Epee
2-3:30 pm Midd Foil
3:30-5 pm Midd Epee

As this is a somewhat confusing rotating schedule, even without weather disruptions, I will send out a weekly reminder to all who have signed up. Also, we are going to need to be flexible and pay close attention to the weather forecasts. If we need to adjust to the weather, I will email you on Friday evening. If it rains both Saturday and Sunday, we simply skip that week's practice.

Class Locations
Middlebury - my first choice is the East Middlebury rec park, which has a nicely surfaced basketball court, plus a couple of tennis courts. Second choice would be the blacktop playing area next to MHS (awaiting permission from the school principal for that) or grass soccer fields in the town rec park (or town basketball or tennis courts, if not in use) Charlotte - my first choice is CCS, preferably the outdoor basketball court, or anywhere we can find around the school (awaiting permission from the school, which was not scheduling anything until they heard from town rec sports). Another possibility might be the Congregational Church parking lot. Other ideas in or near Charlotte?

Wherever we end up meeting, we will not have access to school bathrooms. Middlebury rec park currently has a portalet (will they leave it up through the fall?) and I think E. Middlebury does too (anyone living there want to check on that for me?). I do not know whether CCS will place a portalet outside the school for those using the playing fields. There may not be a bathroom available. Please come already dressed for fencing, or wearing shorts that allow you to change into fencing pants without need for privacy. Hand sanitizer is a must - bring your own bottle (we are all used to carrying it around now, right?).

Payment
All fencers will purchase a 5-class punch card to begin with. You will do your own punching (or just crossing out) - I am relying on you to keep track of your own attendance, and not lose your card. Punch cards never expire (so if we have weather cancellations, or have to shut down again, just hold on to it).

Punch card price is sliding scale. Suggested price is $60, but no-one will be turned away if they can’t afford it (just pay what you can). Conversely, if you are weathering the pandemic in good financial shape and wish to support your friendly local fencing coach with a little extra, let’s just say I won’t object!

Club dues for this fall: $15, waived if you buy (or have already bought) a beautiful Champlain Cup 2020 t-shirt! I would love to get the shirts out of my attic and the money for them in the bank.

All fencers must be members of US Fencing for insurance purposes (a noncompetitive membership is fine). Please renew at www.usfencing.org (or over the phone) if you haven’t already done so.

Equipment
Due to covid-19, shared club equipment will not be available (other than scoring machines). I expect anyone who has fenced for more than a year to purchase their own mask, jacket, glove, underarm protector and weapon. If you want to fence electric, you will also need body cord, electric weapon and (for foil) lame. Looking for a good deal on used equipment? Coach Geoff has some to sell. Contact him at coachgeoffbutler@gmail.com to find out if he has something that might work for you. For those who started fencing last fall or winter, want to continue and are not ready to purchase their own equipment yet, I will sign out a set of club equipment to you. You take it home with you, and return it cleaned at the end of the fall session. There is no charge for this, unless you damage an item due to misuse. If you want to borrow equipment for this fall, email me and let me know that you need it.

One piece of equipment that everyone needs to have is a face mask (a.k.a face cloak, not to be confused with your fencing mask). You must cover your mouth and nose any time you cross blades with another fencer, and any time you are within 6 feet of someone else. You may want to practice taking your fencing mask on and off without dislodging the face cloak - it can be a little tricky.

What happens in November?
I really don't know. Ambiguity is the new normal. I will give you answers when I have them. If it is safe to resume indoor group exercise, AND we find affordable, available spaces to do so, I would like to continue fencing in some form through the winter. I am currently following a lead in the Middlebury area (Cornwall town hall seems open to having us, but have not discussed schedule or price). Finding a replacement for CCS is harder, as demand is higher in Chittenden county. If anyone has connections to a space (i.e. you know the owner/manager, or have some kind of "in") please let me know. I wish I could tell you more!

2.PRIVATE LESSONS
I have been giving private lessons in my backyard in Addison this summer (I have a nice flat spot!), and plan to continue to do so through October, weather permitting. Lessons can be scheduled Monday-Friday (since I am reserving weekends for group classes, starting 9/5), any time between 10 a.m and dusk. As it's weather dependent, email me a few days in advance if you want to schedule a lesson. Cost is $25 for a half hour lesson, or 5 lessons for $100. Do you have a friend who really wants to start fencing? I will offer a "fall special" of 5 private lessons, including loaner equipment. Most teens and adults will be able to cover most of our usual Level 1 curriculum in 5 lessons (younger kids may need more) and be ready to join group classes after that.

3. RIP Walter Clinton
I just found out that fencing friend Walter Clinton passed away in May, before his time at age 68. Walter lived in Burlington and fenced in Charlotte in the late 90s/early 2000s, before moving back west to Seattle. Walter was instrumental in founding the Green Mt Division, and served as its first secretary. He was always super fun to fence with. His obituary is here: https://www.emmickfunerals.com/obituary/Walter-Clinton

4. Just for fun: Atlantic Crossing concert video
My band Atlantic Crossing put on a small backyard concert and made a video to share. Our first performance since March! Check it out if you are a fan of Celtic music:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QiZgRKjmZfI

UPDATE 8/29
Sign Up for Saturday Classes Now!
With our first outdoor Saturday class only a week away, I need you to sign up NOW for one of the 4 class groups if you plan to fence this fall: Middlebury Foil, Middlebury Epee, Charlotte Foil or Charlotte Epee. As of today, only the Charlotte Foil group has enough fencers (6+) to run. I need to know sooner rather than later who plans to fence this fall, because it affects my lesson planning (which I really would like to get to work on). If we have enough fencers to run separate foil and epee groups, I will focus on things that are different between the two weapons, while if I am going to blend the groups, I will focus on things that are similar. You do not need to be able to make all 8 outdoor classes to sign up. Sign up if you think you will be able to make 4 or more of them.

Want to join two groups? Check the list on Thursday (9/3) and if there are still spaces, go ahead and sign up for a second group (no extra charge for attending two classes in one day!).

Here again is the sign up link:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/12pLHpKCg-sIt26SKFIjy9Ff-pd59To36OGBt2_xgqFU/edit?usp=sharing

I have one Middlebury foil fencer who could participate only if that group had the final time slot (3:30-5) every week. Is there anyone who objects or would be unable to participate if, instead of a rotating schedule, we met mornings in Charlotte and afternoons in Middlebury for the entire 8 weeks? If so, please let me know right away. We could still rotate between epee and foil in Charlotte as to who has the earliest time slot. At present, none of the class times are finalized, so if you have constraints, now is the time to let me know.

Equipment
The outdoor classes are open to ALL returning fencers ages 9 through adult, including those who just started fall or winter. If you do not yet have your own equipment, here are a couple of options:
a. Contact Geoff Butler to see if he has any used equipment in your size (even if it's a partial set, I can furnish the remaining items). coachgeoffbutler@gmail.com. Charlotte fencers, I am willing to pick up equipment from Geoff (he lives in E. Middlebury) this week and bring it for you next Saturday.
b. Arrange to check out a set (mask, glove, jacket, practice weapon) from me. At present, I have plenty of loaner items in most sizes.
c. Buy yourself a new set. See the VFA's guide on how to order fencing equipment here, ask if you have questions:
http://www.vtfencingalliance.org/old_posts/EquipmentBuyGuide.htm

Electric equipment is not required for the Saturday classes, but if you have it, bring it. Most of our scoring machines can be battery operated for outdoor use.

I have some recently donated used items for a donation to the club:
a. Women's Absolute right-handed front zip jacket, size 44 (will fit 36-38 inch bust size, maybe a thinner 40). Even comes with a Slytherin patch! $15
b. Women's Absolute fencing pants, size 34 (I'm guessing this is a M adult, maybe an 8-10 pants size?) $10
c. Electric epee and body cord (unknown brand) with right handed Zivkovic B grip (best for a larger hand) $15
d. Women's plastic chest plate, size S (roughly 34-38 bust size). Use for epee or foil practice as is, buy stick-on padding to convert for foil competition. Free! Let me know if you want any of these.