Bulletin for the Week of January 7, 2019


Welcome to the 7 new club members who are starting Level 1 classes this week (we are expecting 4 new members in Middlebury and 3 in Charlotte). Please check out item #5 of this bulletin, where you will find complete information on what to expect at your first class. We still have plenty of room in both Level 1 classes, so if you have an interested friend who misses this week, have them get in touch with me.

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.

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.

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 school is closed, so are we.

ATTENTION CHARLOTTE FENCERS: Last Thursday I was able to talk to the town rec basketball coach and confirm that his team plans to end practice at 7. Therefore, Thursday (Level 3) practices will start at 7. I will not know about Tuesday until I talk to the coach this Tuesday (it's a different team). For this Tuesday, let's gather at 7:15 (in hallway if basketball is indeed using the gym until 7:30) to take care of payments and USFA registrations for newbies. If it turns out that the Tuesday team also wraps up at 7, we will begin earlier next week. I will let you know in next week's bulletin.

ATTENTION MIDDLEBURY FENCERS: On January 14 and 21, Mary Hogan School is closed. We will meet for those two Mondays at the Bridge School (1469 Exchange St, Middlebury, VT, looks like a large barn with blue roof, on corner with route 7). Time frame remains 6:30-9.

Winter term fees are due this week. Here's what various people owe:
New student, including equipment rental and USFA dues: $140 ($20 less if you have your own equipment, or if you have 3+ family members in the club)
Returning student, with equipment rental: $130
Returning student, with own equipment: $110 (or $10 dues plus purchase punch card)
Those who prepaid dues for the year in September: $100 (or purchase punch card)
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

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.

On Friday, I sent a separate email to all club members with a link for downloading the 2019 Sponsorship form, and also a link to a GoogleDoc where you can list your potential sponsors (and see who other people are approaching) to avoid duplication of efforts. Please let me know if you were unable to access the form and need me to email one to you directly. Here is the GoogleDoc link again:

Reminder of deadlines:
Fri Feb 1: last chance to get sponsors' names on the t shirt.
Fri Feb 22: last chance to include sponsors' print ads in the tournament program

I am still looking for volunteers for the following tasks. If nobody volunteers, these things won't happen, the fund drive will not succeed and fencing costs for everyone will go up next year. I would love to see a few new folks step up and take these tasks on, rather than assume the same people will do them every year.
-Raffle Czar/Czarina. Job includes selecting and purchasing a grand prize (you will be reimbursed), collecting additional donated prizes, collecting tickets and money as they are turned in, and coordinating the raffle at the Middlebury Open itself. It's not a hard job, anyone could do it, or a small committee could take this on together. After sponsorships, the raffle is typically the next most important part of the fund drive (raised about $700 with it the last few years).
-Cafe King/Queen. Coordinate the concession stand at the Middlebury Open. Set up an online sign up sheet for fencers to contribute lunch foods to sell, purchase needed supplies (paper plates etc - you will be reimbursed), set up concessions stand and coordinate volunteers to staff it during the weekend (you do not need to be present the whole time yourself). Again, could be an individual or a small group. This is a good job for parents, spouses and other "noncombattants" who won't be fencing that weekend.
-T shirt designer. Do you have artistic or graphic design skills? I am looking for an eye-catching logo for the front of this year's Champlain Cup t-shirt, that captures the excitement of fencing. You may use up to 3 colors, and choose any available t-shirt color to print it on. The design should also incorporate the words "Champlain Cup 2019" and "Green Mt Division US Fencing". I need the design in hand, preferably in a digital form that can be sent directly to the printer, by January 28 (3 weeks from today). Designer gets a free t-shirt and free entry fee to the Middlebury Open.

Anyone who raises $50 or more in sponsorships and/or raffle ticket sales prior to the Middlebury Open gets free entry fees for the tournament. In addition, the person with the greatest number of sponsors (at any level) gets 12 free raffle tickets.

Huzzah for Kirin, Torrey, Miranda, Sten and Ciaran, who have already signed up for youth events at the MidWinter Melee, this Saturday, Jan 12, at Mary Hogan School in Middlebury! As the 13 kids who participated in Youth Series #1 in November can tell you, Green Mt Division Youth events are a lot of fun. The purpose of the GMD youth series is to give our youngest fencers a supportive, low pressure introduction to tournament fencing. You will get to meet kids from other clubs, use electric equipment (loaners available free of charge for those who sign up in time), and fence under the supervision and guidance of experienced refs. You will get a sticker in your Youth Passport (and an award if you collect stickers from 3 or more tournaments), and we have a spirit award for a kid who does not earn a medal but shows extraordinary sportsmanship and effort. Youth events do not require USFA competitive membership, nor do you need to own your own fencing equipment. All you need to do is sign up and show up. Sound like fun? Here’s what to do:

First, sign up TODAY (Monday 1/7) for Y10Y12 Mixed Foil and/or Y10Y12 Mixed Epee - if you wait until tomorrow, the entry fee increases (and you make my life more complicated). Sign up on the AskFRED website here:
If you participated in November, your name is already in the AskFRED database and all you need to do is log in and sign up with a few clicks. New to AskFRED? Instructions are here:

Show up on Saturday no later than 10 a.m. for foil or 12:30 pm if doing epee only (earlier if you want more warm up time). Bring any fencing equipment you have, sneakers and long pants (fencing pants with long socks, or sweatpants), a water bottle, some snacks, and your sense of adventure.

Entry fee if registered by midnight tonight: $15 for one weapon or $20 for two. If registered late, it goes up to $20 for one weapon or $30 for two.

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 alternate Wednesday (Middlebury) and every Thursday (Charlotte) afternoons, and from Geoff Butler in the last hour of Monday (Middlebury) and Tuesday (Charlotte) evening practices as well as at Vintage Fitness in Vergennes on Friday evenings. 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:

Observation: those who are taking lessons from me seem to have got in the habit of using Visibook, while Geoff seems to be getting a lot of walk-ins and maybe some last minute direct requests. Why not be as considerate to Geoff as to me, and use Visibook? If we know in advance to expect you, we can think about your specific needs and plan lessons for you. So you will not only make our lives easier, you might just get a better lesson.

Want a lesson from a particular coach and find we are all booked up well in advance? Email or talk to us, we might be able to shuffle someone else around so we can work you into the schedule.
Note on Wednesday afternoons in Middlebury: a Mary Hogan school basketball team will be using the north gym court until 5, so the 4:30 lesson will take place on the stage in the north gym.

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 dry 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 small 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 12 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.