Bulletin for the Week of September 10, 2018

1. PRESEASON STARTS THIS WEEK-MIDDLEBURY ONLY (NOTE CHANGE!)
Attention Charlotte fencers: I just found out that the school is having an open house and picnic this Thursday and do not want us there due to a lack of parking. Therefore, the first preseason practice will be in Middlebury only, this Wednesday. Charlotte fencers are very welcome to attend. New/prospective Charlotte club members - if you were planning to visit for this Thursday's preseason practice, please come next week on either Tuesday or Thursday (and sorry about the confusion - CCS is a busy place and changes are not unusual).

Here is the updated preseason schedule for returning fencers:
Wed 9/12, 7-9 pm Middlebury (Mary Hogan School)
Thurs 9/13: NO PRACTICE
Mon 9/17, 7-9 Middlebury (Competitive Squad meeting 6:30-7)
Tues 9/18, 7-9, Charlotte (Competitive Squad meeting 6:30-7)
Wed 9/19, 7-9 Middlebury
Thurs 9/20, 7-9 Charlotte

Regular classes and practices (including Level 1) start the week of September 24.

Returning fencers, please remember that you need to renew your USFA membership before your first practice of the season. I have learned that the online member search function is not working correctly (USFA has a long history of website issues, sigh...). If you search for your name, or for GMD members, you may not find it even though you are a member (this issue particularly seems to apply to those who joined after April 1 last season, i.e. rolled over memberships). However, if you download the current membership list it will be there. Basically, if you started fencing last April, you don't need to worry, you are all set. If you think you upgraded to competitive status after April 1, you might want to check. New club members will be joining the USFA at their first class, so don't need to do anything about this.

2. GREEN MT DIVISION REF CLINIC - THIS SATURDAY
Learning to ref is part of learning to fencing. We are a do-it-yourself division in a do-it-yourself sport. There is no list of professional fencing referees we can call up to ref at our tournaments (and no money to pay them). Our tournaments can only happen when Vermont fencers are willing to learn and to volunteer (in return for the small reward of tournament entry coupons). But if you need a more selfish reason to become a ref: it will make you a better fencer. It is no coincidence that there is a strong correlation between the most skilled refs in the division and the most successful competitors.

I would love to see every member of the Competitive Squad, and any other interested returning adult and teen fencers, take advantage of the great opportunity we have here in Vermont. UVM coach Crocket has volunteered an entire day to offer the ref course free of charge to GMD fencers, just before the new season starts. On top of that, the GMD will reimburse you the $35 exam fee if you pass the national ref exam. So please, sign up and show up for your sport!

For more info and to sign up:
https://askfred.net/Clinics/moreInfo.php?clinic_id=41251

3. CHAMPLAIN CUP FALL TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE
Most of the fall tournaments are now posted and available for sign up on AskFRED. Remember, if you sign up 5+ days in advance, you get a discount on your entry fee ($15 for your first event plus $5 per additional event, as opposed to $20 first event/$10 per additional event for late sign up). You also really really help the tournament organizers with planning ahead to keep everything running smoothly.

Sept 29, UVM: 2018 Fall Foliage Classic. Our traditional season kick off, with open (senior mixed) foil, epee and saber events, plus unrated foil and epee. There will be separate mens and womens unrated events if we have 6 or more of each gender. Unrated events are perfect for first time competitors! I would love to see a lot more unrated fencers signing up for this. https://askfred.net/Events/whoIsComing.php?tournament_id=40666

Oct 20-21, UVM: Fall Foliage 2 (because we seem to have run out of names for tournaments...). Open foil, epee and saber, and Veterans foil and epee. New this season: a fall veterans event, just for athletes born 1979 or earlier!

Nov 3, Middlebury: Adult Round Robin (for fencers born 1998 or earlier, a fun day of fencing with no elimination matches and a social hour!), and GMD Youth Tournament #1 (for kids born 2006 or later)
Nov 4, Middlebury: Teen Fencing Day, aka Jr Olympic Qualifiers. The only tournament all season specifically for teens (born 1999-2005), with the added bonus that the top 25% of competitors will be chosen to represent Vermont at the national Junior Olympics in February!

Dec 9 (probably, awaiting confirmation and posting): Upper Valley Holiday Open

A couple of winter tournaments are also posted.

4. INFO FOR FIRST TIME COMPETITORS
The Champlain Cup is the Green Mt Division's fun, friendly fencing league. Think of it as joining a local tennis or softball league. Would you just go to practices and never play in any games? Tournaments are our games. You don't have to be a cut throat competitor or an expert fencer to participate. All fencers of all levels are welcome, no one sits on the bench, and everyone gets to use electric equipment (club loaners available), meet fencers from other clubs, and learn by trying to apply your skills to actual bouts.

Some GMD events are especially good for beginning competitors. In particular look for:
-Youth Events. These are just for kids born 2006 or later (fencing age groups are by birth year, not birthday, so you stay in the same age group all season). They are supportive and age appropriate. There are 4 of them over the course of each season, with the first one in November this year.
-Unrated and E-Under events. Teen and adult fencers earn ratings based on competitive success, ranging from E (modest success at a local tournament) up to A (very high finish in a national or strong regional tournament). All new competitors start out as Unrated. An Unrated event is limited to unrated fencers only, while an E-Under is for E and Unrated fencers. Both are a great opportunity for newer competitors to enjoy fencing eachother without the big guns, supported by experienced volunteers who will ref and show you the ropes (remember these people....you will be one of them one day!). There are Unrated events at the very first tournament of the season! (and a U or E-Under roughly every other month).
-Veteran events. These are for kids born 1979 or earlier (roughly equivalent to "masters" events in other sports). Mature athletes tend to be very inclusive and encouraging to their fellow veteran fencers, and these events often include a mix of newbies and those with many years experience (who are usually very happy to give you tips and help). We have two Veteran events on our calendar this season, in October and March.

You do not need to own your own equipment for your first few local tournaments. If I see your name on the sign up list 5+ days in advance, I will bring everything you need. Tournament entry fees: If you sign up 5+ days in advance $15 for your first event plus $5 per additional event. If you miss the deadline, it is $20 first event/$10 per additional event. USFA membership: Competitive level membership is required for all sanctioned teen and adult events (basically all of them except the Adult Round Robin). Competitive membership costs $75, and runs from Aug 1 to July 31 (so the earlier in the season you purchase it, the more use you can get out of it). For Youth events (and the Adult Round Robin), noncompetitive membership ($10 per season) is sufficient. If you are currently a noncompetitive member, you may upgrade at any time by paying the $65 difference in dues. Memberships and upgrades are done online at www.usafencing.org (click on membership).

Tournament sign ups are done through a website called AskFRED (www.askfred.net). It can be confusing at first. Here is a guide to setting up an AskFRED account and using it:
www.vtfencingalliance.org/old_posts/HowToUseFRED.htm