VFA Bulletin
March 21, 2022

Tues 3/22: Final Level 1 class and Competitive Squad practice in Charlotte
Wed 3/23: No fencing (Middlebury group has a 2 week break)
Thurs 3/24: Bonus fun night for everyone in Charlotte, 7-9 p.m
Next week (March 29-31): spring break, no fencing

I encourage all fencers, including winter Level 1 students and Middlebury fencers, to come to Charlotte this Thursday for a very informal in-house round robin, 7-9 p.m. Here is how it works: at the start of the evening, each fencer receives a bag of game pieces (bingo chips, if you must know). The more experienced or higher rated you are, the fewer chips you start with. You then fence 5 point bouts with as many different people as you can over the course of the evening. Bouts will be mostly self-reffed (it's a point when you both agree it's a point). If both fencers have electric equipment, I encourage you to use it, but if you don't, it's fine to fence dry (i.e. not electric). I encourage everyone to try fencing at least 2 different weapons - I will bring loaner foils, epees, and yes, sabers (but don't get your hopes up of a saber class - I can show you the basics but that's about it). At the end of each bout, the loser gives the winner one chip (don't worry, I'll start you with enough that I doubt you will completely run out). At the end of the evening, their will be some small prizes for the person with the most chips in their bag, plus for the best youth (age 12 or younger), veteran (age 40+), and unrated (in all weapons) fencer.

Please spread the word about spring classes - especially members of the Middlebury group. I am already taking sign ups for the spring Charlotte class, but have not heard from any potential new fencers in Middlebury. If the Middlebury group is going to survive and continue, we desperately need lots of new club members. Of course, I'm happy to see more new people in Charlotte too. Here are 3 ways you can help:
1. Word of mouth. Tell your friends. This is our #1 recruitment tool
2. Front Porch Forum - Middlebury and Vergennes have already been posted to, as has Charlotte, but I still need FPF members from other Addison and northern Rutland County forums to volunteer to post an ad. Also Shelburne and S. Burlington.
3. Postering. Thank you to Deirdre Goldenbogen for creating a nice poster for both groups - I'll hang one or two in Middlebury soon (the Coop - where else?). Anyone who can hang one in their community, please let me know - I'll send you a pdf file you can print and hang. Or a jpg to share on social media. Or both!

If you still have rental equipment signed out, I need to get that back by Friday March 25, even if you would like to rent again this spring. Charlotte fencers, the easiest thing for you is to turn it in at practice this week. Coming Tuesday but not sure if you'll make Thursday? No problem, hand it in at the end of Tuesday, and I'll just keep it in a bag in my car in case you turn up Thursday and want to use it again (and if you don't, I'll have it).

If you are not coming to practice this week, please get in touch with me to make a plan to turn it in. I live in Addison, near the Snake Mt trailhead. Equipment can be dropped off on my back porch at any time, I do not need to be home.

You do not need to launder the jacket and glove before turning it in - I'll take care of that.

Through March 25, priority for spring rental goes to new Level 1 fencers. If you would like to rent again for spring Level 2 classes, please check in with me early the week of March 26. Unless I have a rush on your size among new students, there is a good chance I'll have something for you. But of course, it's much nicer to get your own! You can get a front zip jacket, an underarm protector (required for competition), a pistol grip weapon if you want one. You can find information on shopping for equipment here (prices outdated, but other info should be helpful): http://www.vtfencingalliance.org/old_posts/EquipmentBuyGuide.htm

4. SURVEY SAYS How do you feel about making face masks optional at practice this spring? Do you have any other suggestions or feedback for me? Click here to take a very short survey:


I value your feedback and help in making this important decision.

This is the big one, trust me, you don't want to miss it! We have been holding the Middlebury Open for over a quarter century, interrupted only by the occasional global pandemic, so we know how to throw a good party. This tournament is our main fundraiser for the season, and offers something for everyone, with foil events on Saturday April 9 and epee and saber on Sunday April 10. It is a veritable festival of fencing!

The following events will be held:
-Youth foil and epee: for kids born 2009 or later.
-Veterans foil and epee: for kids born 1982 or earlier. Unrated and newbie competitors are very welcome in veteran events. It's fun to play with kids your own age, so I encourage all who are old enough to enter these events. By the way "veteran" is what the fencing world uses to describe athletes known as "masters" in other sports. It has nothing to do with military service.
-Unrated foil and epee: open to unrated fencers born 2008 or earlier. As long as we have at least 6 fencers of each gender, we will hold separate mens and womens unrated events.
-Open (a.k.a. senior mixed) foil, epee and saber: open to all fencers born 2008 or earlier.

Open saber and unrated epee start at the same time, so you can't enter both of those (so do youth and veteran events, but if you've figured out how to simultaneously qualify for both of those age groups, I want to know about it). Other than that, I encourage you to participate in as many events as you have the energy for! Entry fee is $15 for your first event plus $5 per additional event (for the whole weekend), as long as you are registered by April 2. After that, late registration fees apply ($20 for first event/$10 per additional). All events except youth require Access or higher US Fencing membership (noncompetitive members must upgrade before the tournament, on line or by phone, $15 to upgrade to Access status).

To register (and see who else is coming):

New to using AskFRED? Directions are here:

It will be worth coming to the Middlebury Open just to get the t-shirt (limited print run, sold only at the tournament, when they're gone they're gone) - Adam Glazer has done a brilliant design featuring a plague doctor holding an epee in one hand and a vaccination syringe in the other. This will be the only Middlebury Open in club history to get two t-shirts! (The 2020 design, also a fabulous Glazer original, featuring a modern foil fencer casting the shadow of a gentleman swashbuckler, was printed just before the lockdown started. I happen to have just 3 of them left, all size S, at a discount price of $10. Let me know if you want one. Collector's item!).

Here are the things that I will do to get ready for this tournament (and every tournament, really):
-Create AskFRED page and handle any registration issues and questions that arise
-Liase with the school and handle gym rental
-Organize refs, meet managers and strip equipment
-Repair the equipment that broke during the last tournament, make sure we have working club gear ready for our newer competitors
-Make and donate a raffle prize, order the t-shirts (okay, I don't do those things for every tournament)

And how about taking a minute to thank GMD vice-prez Ray Schuppe for the things he does for every tournament:
-Keep the GMD computer up to date (this seems to involve many hours of software updates)
-Set up the tournament on the Fencing Time software and download registrations from AskFRED
-Cross check registrations against the USFA membership database and troubleshoot problems
-Upload the results to AskFRED and prepare the ratings change report for the national office
Ray has already given 10+ hours to these tasks for the Charlotte and Maple Madness tournaments, and that's on top of being the first to jump in and ref whenever needed.

Here are the things that need to be done by people who are not Ray or I:
-Volunteer to serve as a meet manager, armorer and/or ref over the course of the weekend. In particular, we will especially need refs for youth events, as Ray and I will be fencing in the veteran events at that time.
-Volunteer to take charge of the raffle, t-shirt and/or snack sales (we need at least one coordinator for this, to get everything organized)
-Pick up the t-shirts from Amalgamated Culture Works (Pine St, Burlington) and bring them to me in advance or get them there first thing. Save me a trip to Burlington.
-Donate raffle prizes and/or snacks to sell
-Come early Saturday to set up and/or stay late Sunday to clean up (strip equipment can be left set up overnight)

If you can do one of the first three things on this list, please let me know as soon as possible, and thank you for being part of the tournament team!

It's so great to have the Green Mt Division back in business, and apparently it's not just local fencers who think so. We were joined this time by a large contingent from the Albany area and another from Boston, plus a few NH, western MA and CT fencers. Congratulations to all of the Maple Madness medalists! Full results can be seen here:

E-Under Epee (21 competitors, D1 event)
1 Berman, Abraham VFA - earned D rating
2 Leone, Gabriel FMCC -earned E rating
3 May, Ciaran VFA -earned E rating
3 Kane, Garrett VFA

Open Epee (33 competitors, A2 event)
1 Wu, Joseph CFC
2 Jin, Owen CFC
3 Horak, Peter UNAT
3 Wei, Zikun NOFEAR/RPI

E-Under Foil (10 competitors, E1 event)
1 Coffin, Carleton RPI
2 Cook, Ethan VFA
3 Averill, Zachary RPI
3 Yeh, Rodney VFA

Open Foil (15 competitors, C1 event)
1 Toshev, Peter SRN/VFA - earned C rating
2 Hogan, Benjamin VFA
3 Wei, Zikun NOFEAR/RPI -earned D rating
3 Horak, Peter UNAT

Performance of the Week: The Charlotte group has been fortunate this winter to see 3 highly skilled fencers return to fencing after years away (for those little things like career and family that sometime get in the way of fencing). Abe was an A-rated epee fencer and member of the NYU team in his salad days. He started coming this winter to support his daughter, who is just finishing the Level 1 course. But it didn't take long for the bug to bite him again, as he went undefeated in the E-under event and got back on the ratings ladder. In fact, he earned his D twice, finishing 9th (highest of the local fencers) in a very competitive open epee field (4 As, 2 Bs, 5 Cs). He reported afterward that the thrill of competition hasn't gotten old, even if it takes more ice and advil to recovery. Peter is a citizen of the world - although he grew up in the Burlington area, he did much of his early training and competing in Canada and Bulgaria (the other two countries he is a citizen of), making the Canadian national team as a cadet (under 17) and fencing at Princeton. Ben is a VFA legend - the Vermont farm boy who won a Montreal youth tournament in hiking boots, went from a D to a B in one day as a teenager, and shortly after that, became the first VFA fencer (of only 2 so far) to earn an A rating. This winter, Peter and Ben decided it was time for a return to competition, and have been making time for intense weekly bouts with each other (because honestly, none of the rest of us can challenge them hard enough). It is great to see them shaking the rust off and dominating the first two tournaments of the year. But here is the really great thing about having all three of these guys around: they have years of combined fencing knowledge and skills, and they are all willing to give back to the sport they love. Whether that's mentoring less experienced fencers, reffing, or just serving as an example to younger fencers of how to set goals and train toward them, the VFA is a better club for having them around. So congratulation to all 3 on well deserved medals, and keep up the good work!

Honorable Mentions: Speaking of mentoring, a few weeks ago, Abe reported to me "That kid Ciaran has potential. I just worked with him, and when I offered him advice, he immediately tried to implement it." Yeah, I guess that kid Ciaran does have potential - congratulations on becoming the first unrated Squaddie to earn an E in the post-pandemic era! He did it by edging out Adam, who fenced remarkably well (4-2 in pools and a come-from-behind victory in his first E-under DE, finishing 6th), considering how little Adam gets to practice bouting at his own level, as the Middlebury group is generally younger and less experienced than he is. Karen seems to fence best against better fencers - she scored more points against the A-rated silver medalist than either of the two C-rated male fencers who fell to him next. In his E-under pool, Garrett lost only to Ciaran - but paid him back in the open event when they were in the same pool again. Ethan improved as the day went on - he was seeded 5th going into E-under DEs, and pulled off two upsets (including over his thus far undefeated teammate Rodney) to make the final. I enjoy coaching Ethan because he is a thoughtful and analytical fencer. He never loses his cool or gets upset by a loss - he just asks himself "what can I learn from this? what do I need to work on next?".

Thank yous: As always, it takes a large team of volunteers to pull off a good tournament, and I was happy to see a few new faces helping out this time. I especially want to thank Michele, Don, and Ray, who were among the first to arrive and last to leave, and helped as needed all day long.

Forgot to mention in yesterday's bulletin: the order for club jackets and sweatshirts is still open, and will remain so until the end of the week or until we have at least 12 orders (currently I have 9). It's not too late to order (and the next chance will be in about a year). You can email me with what you want, or add yourself to the order form at practice this week. Please bring payment (check payable to VFA or exact change) to practice this week, or mail it to me.

Here are the available items, with prices:

A. Pull-over adult hoodie (Pennant Super 10 60/40), dark green with gold logo on back and owner's name embroidered on front. $35, sizes S through XL (2XL for additional $3)
B. Full-zip adult hoodie (Gildan 50/50), dark green with gold logo on back and owner's name embroidered on front. $35, sizes S through XL (2XL for additional $3)
C. Pull-over youth hoodie (Gildan 50/50), dark green with gold logo on back and owner's name embroidered on front. $30, sizes Youth S through Youth XL (Youth XL is about same as Adult XS or S)
D. Sport-Tek Colorblock Jacket, green with white stripes, gold logo on back and owner's name embroidered on front. $39, mens XS through XL (2XL for additional $2), womens XS through through XL (2XL for additional $2)

As some of you already know via AskFRED email, we had a false alarm regarding one of the fencers in open epee on Saturday, who tested positive for covid in a routine job site rapid test on Monday, but later tested negative with the more reliable PCR test. It was a bit of a "fire drill" for us - given the stealthy nature of assymptomatic spread, and that omicron variant BA2 (currently causing trouble in Europe and Asia) is predicted to make its presence felt in the US shortly, I was glad that we were all still masked at the tournament, and expect that we will be masking again at the Middlebury Open. Given that tournaments draw a bigger and more diverse crowd compared to the relative safety of your club practice pod, that doesn't mean that going masks-optional is off the table for practice. I would still love to hear from all of you on how you feel about that, so please fill in the quick survey (link from yesterday's bulletin). Remember that masks-optional does not mean you have to stop wearing yours - you may opt in because you want to train under the same conditions as you compete, or because you remain covid-cautious.

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