VFA Bulletin
August 31, 2023

Hello returning fencers!

I look forward to seeing you again very soon. Lots of information here, including some changes, so please read through this for anything that applies to you, especially those of you who first started fencing last season.

A "returning fencer" is anyone who is not a rank beginner, including those of you brushing the rust off after some time away from the sport, those joining the VFA from another club, those who took Level 1 classes last season, and everyone else. Returning fencers get a two week head start before Level 1 classes begin.

September 12 and 14 in Charlotte (7-9 p.m), and September 13 in Middlebury (7-9 pm): Preseason Week. Free work outs for returning fencers of all levels and all ages. Yes free, you don't need a punch card, it's my gift to the club. We will do a lot of footwork, some basic technique drills, a few non-electric bouting games, and of course the perennial favorite, high intensity interval training.
Tues Sept 19 (7-9, Charlotte): First Competitive Squad practice of the season. This is a chance for me to give you Squaddies my undivided attention, for us to brainstorm together and make plans for what CS practices will look like, and for prospective Squad members to come check it out and learn more before committing to membership. See below for more about the CS program. Bring your electric equipment!
Wed Sept 20 (7-9 pm, Middlebury): First Level 2/3 class of the season, followed by open fencing.
Thurs Sept 21 (7-9 pm, Charlotte): First Level 2/3 class of the season, followed by open fencing.

Schedule for remainder of the fall session:
Charlotte Central School

Tuesdays, Sept 26 to Dec 5
7-8:15 pm Level 1 (beginner) Class
7-9 p.m Competitive Squad practice

Thursdays, Sept 21 to Dec 7
7-8:15 pm Level 2/3 Class
8:15-9 p.m Open fencing/bouting time

Mary Hogan School, Middlebury
Note: my poll in the spring revealed that there was quite a bit of interest among teen and adult Middlebury fencers in coming twice a week intermittantly or during particular parts of the season, but not yet enough fencers willing to commit to regular attendance twice a week. MHS charges by the evening rather than by the hour, so going to 2 2-hour practices rather than 1 3-hour block doubles our rent. We will start this fall using the same Wednesday-only schedule as last season. However, I remain open to adding Mondays (mirroring the offerings in Charlotte) should we attain critical mass of committed competitive fencers later in the season. In the meantime, Middlebury based fencers are very welcome to join the Competitive Squad on Tuesdays in Charlotte.

Wednesdays, Sept 27 to Dec 6 (with slightly different timing for Sept 20, see above)
6-7:15 p.m Level 1 (beginner) class
7:15-7:45 p.m Bouting time for everyone (Level 1 students should plan to stay, and Level 2/3 to arrive in time for this)
7:45-9 p.m Level 2/3 class

Membership in one branch of the VFA is membership in the other. You are always welcome to visit the other group for some extra practice or if it is more convenient for you from time to time.

For those who took Level 1 classes last spring, here are my recommendations
Age 9-10: Most young children benefit from repeating Level 1 once or even twice to solidify their basic skills before moving on to Level 2/3 (also, in Middlebury, L2/3 class time may run too late for children this young)
Age 11-12: Some kids this age are ready to move to Level 2 right away, while others benefit from a repeat of L1. It depends on how regularly you attended in the spring (if you missed a lot of classes, a repeat might be in order), how much your remember (if you took L1 then took some time away from fencing you might be rusty) and also on maturity and athletic ability compared to your peers. Not sure what would be best for you this fall? Feel free to ask my advice.
Age 13 through adult: Most teens and adults are ready to move on after one time through Level 1, unless you missed a lot of classes or took some time away from fencing. It is really up to you and how you feel about your progress. Again, feel free to ask my advice if you are not sure.

One option to keep in mind for those who are "in between": maybe missed a few L1 classes or don't feel solid about your basic skills, but have the focus and athletic ability to move on as well. You are welcome to take both classes, Level 1 and 2, simultaneously this fall. There is no extra charge for doing that! If you come to more than one class per week, you only punch your card one time. I think this is a great way to review while also learning new things, and it benefits the L1 class to have some intermediate fencers in it. Consider yourself invited to double up whenever you would like, either by coming twice a week (in Charlotte), or staying for the full 3 hours (in Middlebury) - or you could even attend one of the classes in Middlebury and the other in Charlotte, whatever works for you.

Even if you are repeating L1 this fall, you are welcome to come to the preseason practices, as long as you have your own equipment.

Here is the deal on rental equipment:
Rental equipment is primarily for those trying fencing for the first time. I will not provide it for any preseason practices. From now through Sept. 25, I will only reserve rental equipment for fall Level 1 students (that includes those who are repeating L1 and not participating in L2/3 classes). After that, if there is any left over in your size, I am willing to rent it to Level 2 students, but you should not count on it being available. I really prefer that you get your own as soon as possible and not rely on me to provide it.

Looking to buy your first set of equipment? I have recently updated the blog on our website with advice on what to get:
If unsure or confused about what to get, feel free to ask!

Used equipment: I am a big fan of "recycling" outgrown or un-needed equipment. I do not have any sets available at the moment, but if anyone has equipment they would like to sell or give away, please let me know (item, size, brand, condition, asking price, etc) and I will advertise it in this bulletin.

Our insurance requires that every single person who comes to fencing practice be a member of US Fencing, no exceptions. Please do not come to any practices, including the free preseason week, until you renew your membership. The only exceptions are:
a. Life members
b. Those who started fencing in the spring, or who upgraded from noncompetitive to access or competitive status after April 1. If you fall in this category, your membership extends through this season, and your first required renewal will be next season.
c. Brand new Level 1 students who will be signed up for an access membership at their first practice (those who are repeating L1 need to do it themselves unless you first joined the VFA after April 1).

Not sure if you are currently a valid US Fencing member? It's easy to check. Go to usfencing.org. Click on "Membership" and select "Current Member List". You can either run a search for your name (make sure you enter it exactly as when you registered) or use the drop-down menu to select Green Mt Division, select "active members" and click on "Allez" to get a list of current GMD members, then search for your name. If you are on the list you are all set.

How to renew your membership:
Go to usafencing.org, click on "Membership" and "Join or Renew". Log in to your US Fencing account, and you will be able to renew your membership on line. Don't know your user name/password or membership number? You can look up your member number this way: Go to usfencing.org. Click on "Membership" and select "Current Member List". You can either run a search for your name (make sure you enter it exactly as when you registered) or use the drop-down menu to select Green Mt Division, select "all members" and click on "Allez" to get a list of past and present GMD members, then search for your name. Even if you need to renew, you can find your member number and use it to reset your password. Don't want to do that? You can also renew with a phone call to the national office at 719-866-4511. They can take your credit card over the phone, as well as reset your user name and password so that you will be able to make future upgrades or renewals on line.

When renewing, list your club as Vermont Fencing Alliance (or you can list it as your secondary club if you wish to represent another club as well), and your division as Green Mountain (even if you live in New York).

All types of membership meet the insurance requirement, so it's up to you to decide which level to renew at. You can always upgrade later in the season by paying the difference in price. All memberships (except life) expire July 31. As of this season, there is no longer a noncompetitive membership option.
Membership levels:
Access ($29): This is the least expensive choice and suitable for almost all VFA fencers. In addition to meeting the insurance requirement, access membership allows you to compete in divisional level tournaments (includes neighboring places such as NH, NY and MA, as well as all Green Mt Division tournaments)
Competitive ($99): For any fencer who wants to compete in regional (ROC, RYC, RJCC etc) or national (NAC, JOs, Summer Nationals) tournaments. I don't know for sure, but suspect you need this for Canadian tournaments as well.
International Competitive ($115): For citizens of other countries who want to fence in regional and national US tournaments. If you are only going to fence locally, access membership is fine even if you are not a US citizen.
+Checked Add on ($30): Adds required background check and Safesport training for adult volunteers (refs, meet managers, GMD officers). Can be added to an Access membership (or any other level). Teen volunteers do not need this.

Now would be a good time to take care of renewing your membership. Please please please: don't wait until the night before practice starts, or come to practice without doing it, or make me nag and remind you.

4. FEES FOR 2023-24 SEASON
The VFA begins the season on solid financial footing (about $11, 000 in our account, $3K more than a year ago) thanks to higher dues instituted last season, a successful bunch of tournaments, and the fundraising we did at the Middlebury Open. Therefore, club dues will remain the same for Level 2/3 and Competitive Squad, and in fact will be lower for Level 1, to accomodate the higher USAF membership (Access instead of Noncompetitive) without changing the amount new L1 students pay. Club dues are for a 3 month session, and are due at your first practice in September, again in January and again in April.

Level 1 students: $1
Level 2/3 students: $25
Competitive Squad members: $50

Punch cards remain unchanged in price: $65 for 5 punches. Cards never expire and are transferable if desired. And anyone who comes to fencing more than once a week still only needs to punch their card once (all the more reason to join the Competitive Squad, double up on L1/L2, or to occasionally visit the other group).

If there is anyone for whom the fees are prohibitive or a significant deterrent to participation, please talk to me. I don't want anyone to stay home because of cost concerns.

Equipment: Rental fees remain the same ($20 per semester, plus $100 refundable security deposit). See above about who can rent.

The VFA grows mainly by word of mouth, so please tell your friends about our upcoming Level 1 classes and encourage them to get in touch with right away. Here are a couple of other ways you can help:
a. Front Porch Forum. I will post to the Vergennes forum, but can not post to other FPFs. If you are willing to post for me, let me know and I'll send you a blurb you can just paste in. I especially need folks who can post in Middlebury, anywhere else in Addison County, Brandon and Rutland County. Less critical but also nice would be Charlotte and neighboring towns (Shelburne, Hinesburg etc).
b. Posters. Our talented artist in residence, Adam Glazer, has designed a nice poster featuring another of his fabulous drawings. Let me know if you want one forwarded to you to print and hang. Again, the critical areas for postering are Addison County, Brandon and northern Rutland County.

I'm fairly confident we will have a good turn out of beginners in Charlotte, judging from the number of folks that have joined my mailing list. Of course, it's always fun to have your friends in the club, so do tell them about it.

Our website is freshly updated with info for fall start up:

Please feel free to pass on my email (vfox@gmavt.net@gmavt.net) and phone number (802-759-2268, land line) to anyone who might be interested in joining.

The Competitive Squad is a core group of teens and adults who love fencing, enjoy competing, and want to train hard and play hard. The Squad is the heart and soul of the VFA - the fencers who lead by example. Squaddies train twice per week (or 3 times, if you have the time and inclination to drive to the other town for some extra practice). On Tuesdays, the Squad does a self-directed practice during the time I am teaching Level 1 class. This consists of some peer-run footwork, and a series of bouting games or competitive challenges I assign you, generally using electric equipment. Once Level 1 class ends, I will join you for the last 45 minutes. On Wednesday (Middlebury) or Thursday (Charlotte), Squaddies participate in Level 2/3 classes plus get in some additional open fencing time. While the Tuesday CS practice is in Charlotte, the program is open to both Charlotte and Middlebury based fencers.

We are always looking for new Squad members! Maturity, motivation and genuine love of fencing are more important than your current skill level. There are no try-outs, anyone who meets these criteria is welcome to join:
-Age 13+, with a few exceptions by invitation (youth fencers, don't ask me - I'll ask you if I think you are ready)
-Able to attend regularly twice a week (of course you will have occasional absences for schedule conflicts, illness, etc. but for the program to work, everyone needs to rely on each other to show up for practice)
-Intending to enter most of the Champlain Cup tournaments. In addition, I encourage the more experienced Squaddies to seek occasional out of state tournament experience at what ever is an appropriate level for you. Fencing in "away" meets is not only a great way to stretch your skills and challenge yourself against different opponents, but also helps forge bonds with neighboring divisions and encourages their fencers to visit our tournaments.
-Able to maintain focus and practice with self-discipline without the direct supervision of a coach
-A positive attitude, resilience, good sportsmanship, a genuine desire to learn, and the recognition that mastering fencing is a lifelong journey.
-Own a full set of competitive equipment, including electric (or willing to buy it soon); willing to learn armory skills needed to maintain your own equipment.
-Willing to give back to the club as your skills develop. This can include mentoring/coaching less skilled fencers, learning to ref and reffing at tournaments (a critical need in the GMD!), and helping with tasks like tournament management, equipment maintainance and fundraising.

The only additional cost Squad members pay is the higher club dues per semester. If you fence more than once a week, you only need to punch your card one time, so you won't use your cards up any faster than fencers who just come once a week.

Interested in joining the Squad? Intrigued but not certain? Want to check it out and learn more before committing to it? Have suggestions regarding Tuesday evenings, things you would like to do more or less of based on how practices went last season?
Come to the first practice on September 19!

The Champlain Cup is the Green Mt Divisions' fun and friendly league, with monthly tournaments. You earn a point for every event you enter, plus bonus points for high placement depending on the type of event and strength of the field. Trophies are awarded in May to the top 3 fencers in each weapon, best youth fencer (born 2011 or later), best veteran fencer (born 1984 or earlier), rookie of the year (less than 2 years total fencing experience, competed for the first time after 1/1/23) and Leader's Sword (for the person with the most combined points). You do not have to be a cut-throat competitor to enjoy our local tournaments. We value fun, sportsmanship, and learning, and love to see newbies out there giving it a try.

Event categories:
Open (also called Senior Mixed): for all fencers born 2010 or earlier
Veteran: for fencers born 1984 or earlier
Youth (also called Y12Y10): for fencers born 2011 or later
U or E-Under: for unrated, or E and unrated fencers, ideal for less experienced competitors including first-timers and those recently aged up from the youth ranks

The big news about the Champlain Cup this year is that I am no longer running everything! Three cheers for the new generation of volunteers who stepped up to take the reins, especially our 2023-24 Green Mt Division officers:
Jesse Lussier, president
Matt Krohn, vp
Emily Peden, secretary
Deirdre Goldenbogen, treasurer

The committee is still working on booking venues for the tournaments but here is a provisional schedule so you can at least mark your calendars (in pencil - dates are subject to change if venues are not available)

Sat Oct 14, Fall Foliage Classic. Open foil, epee and saber, unrated foil and epee
Sat Nov 4, Stick Season Stab: Open foil and epee, veterans foil and epee
Sat Dec 2, Holiday Open: Open foil and epee, Youth foil and epee
Sat Jan 13, Midwinter Melee: Open, youth and veteran foil, veteran epee
Sat Feb 3, Groundhog Open: Open foil, epee and saber, unrated foil and epee
Sat Mar 9, Maple Madness: Open foil and epee, E-under foil and epee
April 13-14, 29th annual Middlebury Open. Open foil, epee and saber, youth foil and epee, veteran foil and epee, unrated foil and epee
Sat May 4, Spring Fling, open foil and epee, E-under foil and epee
Sat May 25 (raindate May 26), Fort Ticonderoga NY: 24th annual Ticonderoga Challenge outdoor epee tournament, open and youth epee

As soon as venues are confirmed, we will open tournaments for registration on the AskFRED.net website. New to using AskFRED? Click here for instructions on how to create an account and sign yourself up for events:
Note: AskFRED received a major update/reboot over the summer (yay! it was much needed and is now under new management). I have not tested to see if the sign up process has changed, but I suspect it's pretty intuitive and similar to opening any other on-line account.

Most of our events are all gender (a.k.a. "mixed"), although we occasionally hold separate male and female U events, primarily to allow newer female fencers the enjoyment of fencing each other. The USAF's policy for inclusion of transgender fencers is here:

Entry fees are the same as last season, but described a little differently for ease of accounting. For all tournaments, there is a $10 registration fee, plus $10 per event. There is a $15 penalty for late registration (less than 5 days in advance). All fees are payable at the door.