May NAC Location Change to Richmond VA

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Due to a series of changing circumstances and out of respect for community resources, the location of the May North American Cup has been moved from Minneapolis, Minn. to Richmond, Va.

The May NAC will be held from May 6-9 at the Greater Richmond Convention Center with competition being held in Division I, Junior, Cadet and Y14 categories.

Registration will open on April 2 at 9 a.m. PDT and close on April 8 at 11:59 p.m. PDT.

“Thank you to our partners at both Sports Minneapolis and Richmond Region Tourism for their flexibility and willingness to make the accommodations necessary to make the May NAC successful,” said USA Fencing Senior Director of Sports Operations Christine Strong Simmons (Colorado Springs, Colo.) “We are looking forward to returning to Richmond in May and to partnering again with Minneapolis in the future.”

Each of the events will remain capped at 126 competitors and be limited to U.S. citizens or permanent residents only. The protocols listed in the Health & Safety Practices for the Resumption of National Events also will remain in place, including the mask mandate as well as mandatory COVID-19 testing 72 hours prior to departure for the event.

With events being capped at 126 competitors, athletes will be selected as follows from among those who register for the tournament prior to the registration deadline:

  • Top 75% (up to a maximum of 90 individuals) of U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet the criteria above on the National Rolling Point Standings as of the opening day of registration will be selected in order of their ranking on the standings. Please Note: The top 75% (up to a max of 90) applies to U.S. citizens / permanent residents only. For example, if there are 100 fencers on the NRPS and 96 are U.S. citizens / permanent residents, 72 fencers (96 x .75) will be selected.
  • All remaining slots will be allocated by a lottery that will take place at the conclusion of registration.
  • Athletes not selected in the lottery will be placed on the waitlist for the event.
  • Waitlist order will be determined by the lottery.

All rooms for Minneapolis will be canceled at no penalty by Group Housing. There is no need to contact them about canceling your room. To book a room for the May NAC in Richmond, click here.   

VA Division of USA Fencing Statement Regarding Virginia’s Executive Order 72 (updated 2/24/21)

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On February 24th, 2021 (Effective March 1), the Commonwealth of Virginia updated Executive Order #72 – Phase III Guidelines. FULL TEXT.  Upon detailed review of the document, we believe nothing has changed as it relates to fencing in the Commonwealth.

The Virginia Division of USA Fencing’s Executive Committee
does not support sanctioning events without widespread availability of a vaccine. We do believe there is a path to competitions again most likely in the late summer contingent on the promising projections of the vaccine rollout over these next few months, and we continue to monitor the Commonwealth’s guidelines and the rollout of vaccines and will readdress this position when the Virginia Guidelines change.

Further, we do not support the sanctioning of Regional and National events through the end of the 2020-2021 Season.  It is our concern for the safety of our fencers, parents, referees and others in our community who may be unknowingly affected by attending these events that gives us pause.

Lastly, we do not sanction Regional / National Events, regardless of where they are held.  Sanctioning decisions for these events are made by the National Offices.

Again, to our fencers and parents of fencers, we feel that even if an organizer is able to account for everything in their control, it only takes one Fencer, Club, Coach, or Referee not following protocols in their normal daily lives (or one of their contacts) to jeopardize a multitude of communities.  We prefer to err on the side of safety and understand that others do not hold this same opinion.

Thank you for your support and hope all of you are happy, healthy and safe!

VA Division of USA Fencing Statement Regarding Virginia’s Executive Order 72

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On December 10, 2020, the Commonwealth of Virginia issued Executive Order #72 and “Order of Public Health Emergency”.  

Click here for the full text, but effective Monday, December 14th and through at least January 31, 2021, highlights include:

  1. Modified Stay at Home Order between 12AM and 5AM (with certain exceptions)
  2. Fitness and Exercise facilities max occupancy dropped from 25 to 10 people; however Indoor Recreational Sports venue limits remain at 25
  3. All Public and Private In-Person Gatherings limited to 10 people (with certain exceptions) 

As noted by Cardinal Fencing Academy in an announcement this afternoon, some of these new restrictions have gray areas that can be left up to interpretation by the reader, so we ask that you please read through the document thoroughly and be cautious about how you approach fencing these next few months, or at least until more clarification comes from Richmond.

Let us be clear – 

The Virginia Division Executive Committee:

  1. does not support bouting in our clubs due to the 84% surge of COVID-19 cases in VA over the past 28 days not to mention throughout the country.
  2. will not sanction any event in VA through the end of the 2020-2021 season. We will monitor conditions in the Commonwealth through the Spring to ascertain widespread availability and acceptance of a vaccine before reconsidering this position.
  3. does not support the sanctioning of Regional and National events through the end of the 2020-2021 Season.  We will monitor conditions in the Region 6 through the Spring to ascertain widespread availability and acceptance of a vaccine before reconsidering this position.
  4. does not sanction Regional nor National Events, regardless of where they are held.  Sanctioning of these events are only done by the National Offices.

To our fencers and parents of fencers, our feelings are that even if an organizer is able to account for everything in their control, it only takes one Fencer, Club, Coach, or Referee not following protocols in their normal daily lives (or one of their contacts) to jeopardize a multitude of communities.

Thank you for your support and hope all of you are happy, healthy and safe!

VA Division of USA Fencing Statement Regarding the Sixth Amended Version of Virginia’s Executive Order 67

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On November 13, the Sixth Amended version of Executive Order 67 (PHASE THREE TIGHTENING OF CERTAIN TEMPORARY RESTRICTIONS DUE TO COVID-19) reduces the maximum total number of people (participants, coaches and spectators) allowed indoors down to 25 (or less given size of location.)

Further, the Fourth Amended version removes the 10ft social distance requirement to support high school winter and spring team sport activities.  The 10 ft distance requirement however, still exists for Fitness Centers and Gyms.  We expect this to be reinstated shortly.

The Virginia Division Executive Committee does not support bouting in our clubs due to the recent surge of cases in VA and the country and will not sanction any event through January, where we will again consider conditions in the Commonwealth and whether there is widespread availability of a vaccine.

For your reference:

Safer At Home: Phase Three Guidelines For All Business Sectors

Executive Order 67

Collegiate Fencing Panel Hosted by the VA Division on November 18th at 8pm EST

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Please join the Virginia Division of USA Fencing along with Dan Kellner (Olympian, coach of Olympians and owner of Brooklyn Bridge Fencing Club), Bruce Gillman (Head Coach at Vassar College), Peter Grandbois (Head Coach at Denison University), plus Jennifer Chen, Captain of the William & Mary club team, Maria Papadopoulos, Captain at Duke, and others.

This will be an informal panel discussion of expectations and experiences of all parties – what to look, expect and plan for as you consider fencing in college, and what changes given COVID19 if anything. We will have some prepared questions and hope to take questions asked by those in attendance (time permitting).

You must register in advance for this discussion:

Hope to see you there!

COVID-19 Competition Modifications, Mask Mandates and National Events Updates

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From USA Fencing today:

  1. Due to the increase of COVID-19 cases throughout the nation, USA Fencing has made the difficult decision to postpone the start of the 2020-21 national events season until February 2021.
  2. Although the event schedule is being finalized by the task force, the Junior Olympic Championships will be moved from February to Summer Nationals. The birth years for junior and cadet will remain the same throughout the 2020-21 season and will not change until Aug. 1, 2021. 
  3. Mask Mandate for sanctioned events in states where tournaments are allowed… All attendees at USA Fencing sanctioned tournaments will be required to wear a mask at all times, including athletes during competition.
  4. No screaming after touches.
  5. Salute your opponent at the end of a bout versus a handshake.

Full press release: https://www.usafencing.org/news_article/show/1130356

VA / MD / CAP Divisions sponsored USA Fencing Referee Development Clinic

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The Virginia Division of USA Fencing in partnership with the Capital and Maryland Divisions has scheduled an official USA Fencing Referee Development clinic taught by Lisa Campi-Sapery on September 26th, 2020.  This seminar is a required step in becoming a rated referee in USA Fencing and is open to any aspiring referee, coach, athlete, and parent.

This clinic will be taught virtually over Zoom, and the cost for this seminar is only $50 if you register and pay in advance of September 19 ($60 afterwards).  All information about the clinic can be found in More Info on AskFred.  Register today, here!

Virginia Division Statement Regarding Events – Sanctioned and Unsanctioned

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Beginning August 1, USA Fencing “Return to Fencing” Guidelines will allow for local/division sanctioning of events if the State guidelines that support physical distancing and other requirements are met. 

The Virginia Division does not believe that while we are in Phase III that tournaments should occur given the 10ft mandatory distance required between competitors, coaches and or referees that the VAPhase III Guidelines require (under the Recreational Sports and Fitness Center/Gym guidelines for Businesses in Virginia), and therefore we will not sanction any event in the Commonwealth until such time where physical distance restrictions still exist.

Further, USA Fencing Guidelines also state that only the members from the sanctioning division are allowed to compete in a sanctioned event, so the notion of going to our neighbors events from the Capital, Maryland, and North Carolina divisions is not a possibility for now.

We understand that this is a frustration for some as we are all excited to get back to the sport we love. We feel whatever temporary setbacks or feelings we are going through pale in comparison to the risks of contracting COVID19, which could include severe medical issues that may last a lifetime and heaven forbid the loss of life of a fencer or one of their family members.

The Virginia Division also does not support clubs running unsanctioned tournaments in the Commonwealth given the above mentioned physical distancing requirements. 

To our fencers, and/or parents of fencers, our feelings are that even if an organizer is able to account for everything in their control, it only takes one Fencer, Club, Coach, or Referee not following protocols in their normal daily lives to jeopardize a multitude of communities.

Thank you for your support and hope all of you are happy, healthy and safe!

Virginia Division of USA Fencing Statement Regarding Phase III and COVID-19

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To all Fencers, Parents, Clubs and Coaches:

As a follow up to the COVID-19 Guideline discussion during the Virginia Division’s Annual Meeting earlier this month (7/2), and now that the entire state has entered Phase III, we are sharing our view of what should or should not happen in our clubs.  The Commonwealth of Virginia Phase III guidelines and USA Fencing’s Return to Fencing Guidelines have been linked for reference.

As stated in three different locations of the VA Phase III Guidelines, businesses must “Establish policies and practices for maintaining appropriate physical distance between persons not living in the same household. Maintain at least ten feet of distance for establishments where exercise activities, singing, or cheering is performed”. (This is also restated in both the Fitness/Exercise Facility and Recreational Sports “Additional Guidelines” sections.)  As a result, we do not believe that any activity where two people are less than 10 feet from each other (including bouting/fencing) should occur in any VA club during Phase III.

Per the USA Fencing Return to Fencing Guidelines, “USFA resumed its sanctioning of club activities on May 1, 2020 for clubs in locations where clubs are permitted to operate or reopen by local and state laws, regulations, executive orders and other legal mandates regarding COVID-19. USFA’s sanction, and thus its insurance coverage, will apply only to areas in which clubs can be open legally. It has been and will remain the responsibility of each club to stay abreast of and comply with the state, local and other legal requirements governing its own location. USA Fencing (and the VA division of USA Fencing) cannot, as a practical matter, oversee member clubs’ compliance with applicable laws, which vary widely from place to place. Nor is it within our competence to provide legal advice.”

Created by club owners who are also officers, here are some additional minimum requirements, most of which are part of either of the above guidelines or have been collaboratively determined as best practices by a number of clubs here in Virginia and throughout the country:

  1. Contactless Check-in:  Allows for COVID-19 tracing and makes sure the total number of students does not exceed maximum.
  2. Temperature Check:  Contactless temperature check to ensure body temperature is below 100.4 F.
  3. Limited capacity and Social Distancing:  10’ between fencers and 10’ between fencers and coach.  Limit parent access and discourage additional visitors from remaining in the club.       
  4. Extra Sanitation:  1 to 100 mix of 5% bleach solution application to all hard surfaces upon completion of each group session.  Soft surfaces are either washed daily or sprayed with bleach solution and left to air dry.  
  5. Hand washing before and after practice.  Hand sanitizing before, during, and after practice to minimize the spread of germs.
  6. Increased ventilation:  Open doors, increase or install commercial floor fans to improve air movement and create a negative air flow.  Many clubs are investing in HEPA ionization filtration systems for their HVAC systems or standalone as well (if they have an HVAC) or other UV based air filtration systems.
  7. Mask-wearing:  Face coverings are required.  Face coverings must be worn under fencing masks at all times.  We do not recommend the use of masks with pre-installed face protections since they do not meet FDA or CDC standards.
  8. Equipment Policies:  Bags should be spaced a minimum of 6’ apart.  No loaner equipment to fencers.  Water fountains, water coolers, and coffee stations are not to be utilized.  Soft equipment (balls, bean bags, foam swords) should not be available for use.
  9. Activity policy:  Interactive fencing games with a prop are not permitted.  Private lessons should occur under controlled circumstances with appropriate distancing.  Drills in pairs under controlled circumstances and with appropriate distancing, eliminating deep target attacks, fleches, and in-fighting.  Drills are 3 minutes on and 3 minutes off.
  10. Cross Club “Pollination”:  We strongly discourage fencers from training outside of their primary club during this time.  In a number of cases, clubs have already implemented a 14 day quarantine policy if a student has trained at another club.

If fencers, parents, coaches or clubs have questions or comments regarding any of the above, please do not hesitate to write to info@va-usfa.com, or reach out to any division officer directly.

(Updated 7/19) Removed the bullet that discussed Bouting. This was discussed earlier and the 2nd talking point was deemed confusing by some in the community.)

Virginia Division of USA Fencing announces Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, Seeks Volunteers

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As discussed at our July 2nd Annual meeting, The Virginia Division of USA Fencing will create a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Committee to support the efforts announced on May 8th by USA Fencing’s National Offices, as well as other initiatives from the Virginia Division Board and our member club communities throughout the Commonwealth.  

This group will be focus their efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion to create an equitable, safe and positive fencing environment for everyone in Virginia.  This committee will partner with the USA Fencing DEI Resource Committee to reassess and restructure policies & protocols, create new education initiatives, facilitate honest dialogue around identity and difference and increase recruitment of individuals in underrepresented populations – here in VA.

To volunteer for the VA DEI Committee, please hold a USA Fencing membership or register for a membership upon being named to the group.  You will also be required to complete SafeSport screening and a background check. The VA Division of USA Fencing encourages members of diverse backgrounds, including, racial and ethnic minorities, women, veterans, varying religious groups, individuals with disabilities and those who identify as LGBTQIA to apply. 

If interested, or if you have questions, please contact Richard Weiss at rweiss1@yahoo.com.