VFA-in-Exile Update #1
March 13, 2020

Charlotte Central School has now suspended extracurricular activities for the foreseeable future. So there will be no fencing in either Middlebury or Charlotte until further notice. Charlotte fencers, I owe you one Level 1/2 make-up class (the observation, analysis and reffing activity) and one Level 3 make-up (the bouting games night). If it is possible to schedule those on a couple of Thursday nights this spring, I will. If not, you may take $10 off your next round of classes.

It's going to be way too long before we all get to stab each other again. I have an idea for keeping us connected in the duration. I would like to propose setting up a private forum/chat room for VFA fencers, possibly using the Slack app. Those in the tech know, what do you think? Is there a better way to go or is Slack a good choice? We want something free to members (although a small set up cost is acceptable), user-friendly for all ages, respectful of our privacy (i.e not just a machine for tracking us and pitching us ads), and that can be accessed on desktops as well as on phones and tablets of all types.

Here are some possible uses for the chat room:

-Fitness challenges, where we help motivate each other. In particular, I know of some good home footwork workouts on YouTube, which we might be more inspired to do if we can brag about it to our fencing friends. Staying in shape not only prepares you for a faster return to fencing, but will help boost your immune system!
-Tactical problem solving discussions
-Video watching and discussion. Most of us don't watch enough elite fencing, and there are a lot of great videos out there.
-Armory Q&A. With weeks off from fencing, the least you can do is come back with all your equipment working! In fact, my niece (a professional YouTuber) is stuck here with us (and just happens to have all the right cameras, software, etc), so she is going to help me make some armory videos for the club.
-Plain old socializing and checking in on each other.
-Once the crisis passes, the chat room could be used to form carpools to tournaments or ask questions of your fellow fencers.
-What else? Let's create this on-line community together.

In regard to the Middlebury Open cancellation and it's effect on our annual fund drive, here is what I hope you will all do if you can.

1. I have a box of 70 awesome t-shirts sitting here. They say "Champlain Cup 2020" so even if we can't make up the Middlebury Open, they are really about the whole season. Gold with a wonderful design (scroll to bottom of order form to see a photo). These represent a loss until they are sold. So, please use the link below to pledge to buy one (or more!). They are $15 each. I will hold them for you until the All Clear sounds. You can pay when you collect (but remember, you are making a promise by reserving), or mail a check payable to VFA to Viveka Fox, 1379 Mountain Rd, Vergennes, VT 05491. Pledge to buy them here:

2. One way or the other, we will eventually hold our raffle drawing. Either at a rescheduled Middlebury Open, or at the Ticonderoga Challenge in May. If you were planning to donate a prize this weekend, it's not too late, as long as it's not perishable. Just hold on to it until further notice. Grand prize is a set of Jabra Elite Earbuds, lots of other prizes, winners need not be present, postponed drawing date TBA. Please sell, sell, sell raffle tickets. With more time to do this, I hope we can make up in raffle sales for the loss in not having a concession stand this weekend. Here is the cool thing - you don't have to meet anyone in person to sell the tickets. All you have to do is ask your friends to print out their own tickets using the link below, and mail the filled in tickets plus payment (checks payable to VFA) either to you (just hang on to them until you see the raffle czars again) or to me. Raffle ticket link (you will need to explain that the drawing date, which is on the tickets, has been delayed):

3. A lot of us are facing financial setbacks in the coming weeks, and many of you already gave generously, so no pressure here. But I am leaving the VFA GoFundMe page live for now, in case anyone else wants to make an on-line donation. Here is the link:

Stay healthy, stay safe. I already miss you all!