VFA-in-Exile Bulletin
September 3, 2021

Which can only mean that fencing is starting again soon! We are still in pandemic mode, which means I can't tell you yet whether we will have any indoor practices or tournaments once the weather turns cold, but read on for the schedule for early fall outdoor practices. With Saturday (or Sunday) classes, my own schedule has changed, so I plan to put out the VFA Bulletin on Fridays rather than Mondays to begin with - that will give me a chance for late-breaking weather updates also.

Saturdays, Sept 11 through Oct 23, weather permitting, with raindate on Sunday (or whenever - for example, if we expect two nice mornings and two rainy afternoons I may elect to do Middlebury and Charlotte on different days). I think I have already proven that 25% chance of rain means 85% chance of me making the wrong call....

Charlotte, CCS Outdoor Basketball Court
10-11:30 a.m Level 2/3 Class (see #3 below-please sign up)
11:30 am-1 p.m Level 1 Class, with open fencing for Level 2/3 students

Middlebury, downtown rec park (note change!!!) tennis court nearest the ice rink
2:30-4 p.m Level 2/3 Class (see #3 below-please sign up)
4-5:30 p.m Level 1 Class, with open fencing for Level 2/3 students

Wednesdays, Sept 15 through Oct 20, E. Middlebury rec park (note: different location than Saturdays!!).
5-7 p.m Competitive Squad practice

Thursdays, Sept 16 through Oct 21, Charlotte (CCS outdoor basketball court)
5-7 p.m Competitive Squad practice

-Open fencing for Level 2/3 students is concurrant with Level 1 classes, so I will not be available to supervise, organize or structure this. I would really appreciate the parents of our youngest fencers helping with supervision to make sure that the kids are fencing safely, with no wildness, arguing, or distracting the teen and adult fencers. Of course, I also love it when experienced teen and adult fencers step in to ref/coach the kids and help them learn to bout with each other! While older, more experienced fencers may want to bout for the entire time, 10 or 15 minutes might be enough for the youngest ones. It is fine to leave when you are ready.

-Saturday classes in Middlebury are moved to the downtown rec park due to parking issues in E. Middlebury. Neighbors there have asked for a limit of 10 cars in the lot, no parking on the grass behind the library and on-street parking limited to the marked spaces in front of the library (not on School House Rd). For the smaller Wednesday CS group, I don't think this will be an issue, but if the lot is full, you may need to drop off your stuff and park a distance away.

-Competitive Squad practices will only be offered if a minimum of 5 fencers who fence the same weapon sign up (so, 5 epeeists and 5 foilists to hold a two-weapon practice). As the fall progresses, we may need to move the time frame earlier if we are finding the light too dim by 7 p.m. I realize this is not a great time frame for many adults with regular work hours, but I am hoping we will have enough teens and adults with flexible schedules to make this fly. I invite all adult club members, plus all teens (born 2008 or before) with at least 1 year of experience to consider joining the Squad. Enthusiasm, love of bouting, positive attitude, commitment and motivation are more important to me than your current skill level or previous competitive experience. For this program to work the way I envision it, we need lots of fencers attending regularly so that we can have fun and interesting practices. These will be structured, coached practices, but the emphasis will be on bouting and tactics (lots of games and challenges, lots of electric fencing). The more the merrier, so sign up if you are interested!

-I have tentatively reserved the Shelburne town gym for Tuesday (Level 1 and Level 2/3 classes) and Thursday (Comp Squad) evenings, Oct 26 to November 18. If covid transmission rates have dropped enough that we feel comfortable with indoor exercise in a poorly ventilated gym (it's an old building, interior room with only a few high windows that can not be opened), we will be able to extend our fall season. I have a lead on a possible alternative space for the Middlebury group on Mondays/Wednesdays and will look into others (or Mary Hogan might re-open if covid rates are low enough) for the same time frame. With covid and holiday travel/gatherings, I think it will probably be a good idea to shut down from Thanksgiving through New Year. My fingers are triple crossed for a return to our regular program in January, but it all depends on what happens with covid and also the CCS construction project.

It would be super helpful for me to know who to expect this fall, for planning purposes. Therefore, I have put a roster form on-line here:

Sign Up Form

Please click this link ASAP (how about now?) and add your name to the list for the practices you plan to attend most regularly (Charlotte group is at the top, scroll down to find the Middlebury list). Beside your name, put "yes" for Level 2/3 and/or Competitive Squad.

If you started fencing via private lessons last spring, you are now in Level 2! I would love to see all of you in the club this fall. I am focussing my time and energy on group classes this fall, so no private lessons will be offered. If you have unused punches on a private lesson card (red one), you may exchange it for equal value ($20 per unused punch) on a group class card (blue one). Cards never expire.

It is fine to sometimes attend in Middlebury and sometimes in Charlotte. In fact, if you come to both in the same week, you only need to punch your class card once. Also, if you attend a Level 2/3 class on Saturday and a CS practice the following Wed or Thurs, you only punch your card once (but please punch it if you miss Saturday but come to CS that week). Basically one punch is good for one week's worth of fencing. How's that for a deal?

Reminder to returning fencers: ALL club members must hold some kind of US Fencing membership for our insurance to be valid. Please please please, if you haven't already done it, go to usfencing.org and renew your membership. All memberships expire on July 31 unless you have a life membership, or you joined for the first time after April 1 (applies to some of our spring beginners). A noncompetitive membership ($10 per year) meets the insurance requirements. I am pleased that US Fencing is now offering a new membership category, called "Access" which allows you to compete in divisional-level tournaments for $25 per year. If you plan to compete in regional (ROC) or national (NAC) events, you need a full competitive membership ($85 per year). It is always possible to upgrade from one category to another later in the season.

I have had quite a few new beginners request rental equipment (yay!) and have not much left in medium sizes, but do have some small (young kids) and large (adult) equipment left. Please let me know right away if you want to rent equipment this fall (along with your height and weight). Note that I have re-instituted rental charges, plus a security deposit.

Due to covid hygiene concerns, we have gone to a "lending library" system with fencing equipment rather than sharing it or dumping it into a common duffel bag. You will sign out a set of equipment (mask, jacket, glove, foil) for your exclusive use during the class. The rental fee is $20 for the fall, no matter how many classes you attend or miss. In addition, you will give me a postdated check for $100 as a deposit, which I will not cash, and will return to you when you turn in your rented gear. There is no charge if equipment breaks under normal use (I'll just give you a replacement). However, equipment lost or damaged due to improper use or storage (your kid brother slashing at trees with your foil, your dog chewing up your glove, etc) will be charged replacement value.

All rental equipment must be returned by Thanksgiving. Normally, you can just turn it in at your last class (I will take care of cleaning it for you). However, if your last class is cancelled or you have to miss it unexpectedly, you will be responsible for dropping the equipment off at my house in Addison, or shipping it back to me.

The more fencers who own their own equipment, the more I have to share with new beginners, so I encourage you to buy a set as soon as you know you will be sticking with fencing. There is a guide to buying equipment on our website here (prices may be outdated, but advice is still good):

Are you moving up to the Competitive Squad? You will need electric equipment in addition to the basic uniform. The same web page above gives advice on buying electric gear.

Do you have equipment which is outgrown or no longer used? Let me know what you have (items, sizes, brands, condition) and I can advertise it in this bulletin in case newer or younger fencers are interested.