VFA-in-Exile Bulletin
September 30, 2021

1. THIS WEEKEND - SCHEDULE CHANGES, PAY ATTENTION!
As of this morning, the weather forecasts I check obsessively (NOAA, weather channel, weather underground) don't agree for Saturday. According to NOAA, we may have a window of opportunity early in the day Saturday, while the other sources show showers all day. They all agree Sunday will be rainy. Therefore I am going to wait until tomorrow evening to make a final call, but here are the possible options (which involve time changes for nearly everyone):

Plan A: Charlotte Level 2/3 10-11 a.m. (slightly shortened, but I encourage you to stay for open fencing after)
Charlotte Level 1 11 a.m - 12:30 (slightly earlier than usual)
Middlebury Level 1 1:30-3 p.m. (trying to get it in before the rain - with possible option of moving to the picnic shelter in the park if it does start to rain)
Middlebury Level 2/3 Cancelled (but you would be very welcome to join the Charlotte group this week)

Plan B: No fencing this weekend, hope for better next weekend.

So...check your email late Friday or early Saturday before driving to fencing.

Competitive Squad: Practices from now on are 4:30-6:30. It's drizzling as I write this, but the weather forecast says it's supposed to stop this afternoon, so I will plan to be in Charlotte. If we do get rained on, we could take a little time to do some armory work under the school tent.

2. WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? I NEED YOUR INPUT
I am planning to continue outdoor fencing through October 23 if the weather permits (let's hope for a long, warm, dry fall). What we do after that depends on what the majority of club members want, so I need your input.

I have tentatively reserved the Shelburne town gym (in the old school building, next door to the town hall) for Tuesdays and Thursdays, 7-9 p.m from October 26 through November 18. If enough people are interested to warrant renting it, I propose this schedule for those 4 weeks:
Tuesdays, All-Level Class. A mixed group for all continuing fencers, including those who are currently in the outdoor Level 1 class. Focus will be on technique practice, along with some bouting time.
Thursdays, Competitive Squad practice. Open to adults who have completed Level 1 (or equivalent through private lessons), teens with at least a year of training, and possibly others by invitation. Focus on tactics, bouting, electric fencing, and preparing for competition.

I have not found (or really looked for) an alternative space to Mary Hogan School in Middlebury because I suspect we may not have critical mass to be worth scheduling it (Middlebury fencers, prove me wrong!). However, if the survey shows strong enough interest, I will try to set something up in the Middlebury area if I can find a venue:
Mondays, All-Level Class. A mixed group for all continuing fencers, including those who are currently in the outdoor Level 1 class. Focus will be on technique practice, along with some bouting time.
Wednesdays, Competitive Squad practice. Open to adults who have completed Level 1 (or equivalent through private lessons), teens with at least a year of training, and possibly others by invitation. Focus on tactics, bouting, electric fencing, and preparing for competition.

There is no way to predict what the covid situation will be in late October/early November. If it gets worse, I would not be comfortable with indoor group training and would cancel. For the purposes of this survey, assume that community transmission of covid stays about what it is now. Mask-wearing is a given for the foreseeable future, and will be more strictly enforced than outdoors, even for fully vaccinated groups.

Who should take this survey? Everyone, including:
-Current Level 1 students
-Those who have not been fencing this fall but are thinking of returning (for example, if weekends haven't worked for you but evenings would) -Parents of young fencers
-Everyone else. I want to hear from all of you, except those who have moved away or are on injured reserve.

To complete the survey, click this link:
Survey Link

The survey asks for your name so I can identify who is likely to participate, but no-one else will see your answers. There are no right or wrong answers - we all have different comfort levels with covid risk, and I will not judge you for your responses. There are several boxes to check off, and a comment section if you want to tell me anything else or make suggestions. Parents who are filling out the survey for siblings: please try to fill it out twice, once for each kid. If it doesn't let you do it twice, fill it out for your older child.

What happens after Thanksgiving? At present, my intention is to take a break from Thanksgiving through New Year to allow for holiday travel and get-togethers. In the best case scenario, our host schools will re-open to us and we will resume a normal practice schedule (Mon/Wed in Middlebury, Tues/Thurs in Charlotte), but I do not know when that will happen.

3. OUTDOOR TOURNAMENT FOR TEENS AND ADULTS IN MIDDLEBURY ON OCTOBER 17
Sign up now for the Monster Mask 2 on Sunday October 17 (raindate October 24)!
Location: Middlebury rec park tennis courts (the pair of courts closest to the ice rink)
Events:
10:30 a.m. Open Foil
1 p.m Open Epee

Entry fee (payable at the tournament, check or exact change please): $15 for one event/$20 for two if registered by Oct 10. Otherwise $25 for one event/$35 for two.

Who can participate: all fencers born 2008 or earlier (fencing age groups are by birth year, not age on tournament day) who are fully vaccinated for covid (be prepared to show proof).

This is an unsanctioned tournament (US Fencing does not sanction outdoor tournaments), so no ratings can be earned.

As per US Fencing and Green Mt Division policy, you are required to wear a face covering over mouth and nose whenever a physical distance of 6+ feet can not be maintained, including during all fencing bouts. This is in addition to being fully vaccinated against covid. This will be the most covid-safe fencing tournament possible at the present moment: outdoors, masked and fully vaccinated.

I have never competed before/just started fencing this fall. Can I/should I participate in this? Yes!! Our local tournaments are informal, friendly and welcoming to beginners. We were all beginners once! This is a mixed event (all ages, genders and skill levels together), so you should expect to come up against (and probably lose to, with no dishonor!) more experienced fencers, but I think you will find skilled fencers happy to give you guidance and pointers. This is a chance for the Middlebury and Charlotte groups to come together, along with any fencers from other clubs who sign up. It is a chance to try electric fencing (loaner equipment provided for those who register in time), If you approach it as an adventure and a learning experience, I think you will enjoy it!

I haven't been fencing this fall, but I want to participate: Go for it! You do need to have your own basic uniform (jacket, underarm protector, mask, glove) but you can borrow club electric equipment.

To register, get directions and see who else has signed up:
https://askfred.net/Events/whoIsComing.php?tournament_id=49039

New to using the AskFRED website to sign up for tournaments? Instructions are here:
http://www.vtfencingalliance.org/old_posts/HowToUseFRED.htm

If you register and find you can't make it (if you are not feeling well, or for any other reason), please remove your name from the AskFRED list or contact the organizer (Viveka) and ask her to do it for you. Please don't leave us wondering about you, unless it really is a day-of emergency. There is no penalty for withdrawing if you need to, so go ahead and sign up early and get the discount!

4. CALLING ALL SWASHBUCKLERS, KNIGHTS, PIRATES, ETC!
Our station at last year's Middlebury Spooktacular drive-though trick-or-treat event was a big hit. They would love to have a repeat performance. I am looking for at least 4 other volunteers to commit to this before I say yes (and they do need an answer soon). Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. What is involved:
about 3:30 or so: set up (Better Middlebury Partnership provides a pop-up tent, we decorate it)
4-7 p.m Trick or treating. We can choose a drive-through site, or, if all are comfortable with it, a walk-through site (let me know if you have a preference). The Better Middlebury Partnership provides the candy, we provide the entertainment by dressing up in costumes to greet the kids. Last year, we had Zorro, a dashing highwayman, a modern fencer, a pirate, a musketeer, a Viking, and even the Black Knight from Monty Python. The only rule is that your costume should include some kind of sword! (and also be warm - it can be very cold standing there waiting for the kids). This is big fun for adults and teens who are too old to trick or treat themselves, but still love Halloween! It's also nice publicity for the VFA.

Want to help with this? Email and let me know ASAP.

I call Zorro again (you all know that Zorro means Fox, right?)! .