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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.

Virginia Division Annual Meeting and Election (Update June 27, 2020)

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Virginia Division of USA Fencing Members:

This serves as a reconfirmation of the Virginia Division’s (Division) annual meeting on July 2nd at 7pm EST for the upcoming 2020-2021 fencing season. 

As previously announced, the division made a call for officer candidates for the upcoming season.  We received interest from three candidates, with two current board members deciding to not continue for the next season.  Under normal circumstances, this would require us to hold an election to determine who the six (6) At Large Officers would be.

However, after a number of considerations due to concerns over COVID, specifically related to running an election using proxy votes over a virtual platform, a board member suggested that we just expand the Board one position just for the 2020-2021 season.  The Board voted (7-1) that this would be appropriate for this season only.

During our Annual Meeting, after reports by our officers (if any), we will have a nomination to support the new board as it will exist below, and a discussion if need be by those on the call if required.

Proposed VA Division Board for 2020-2021:

Richard Weiss – Chair

Ron Thornton – Vice Chair

Meredith Powers – Secretary

Ted Smith – Treasurer

At-Large Members:  Greg Kaidanov, Damien Lehfeldt, Scott Farber, Amy Lingley, Thomas Mahnken, and Andrew Grass

Revised Annual Meeting Agenda:
Reports of:
Chairman
Vice-Chairman
Secretary/Treasurer
Other Divisional Officers, committee chairmen, and administrative assistants (when appropriate)
Proposed amendments to the By-Laws
Nomination and Acceptance of 2020-2021 Board
Unfinished business
New business

A meeting of the Executive Committee shall be held after the USA Fencing divisional meetings.

Registration information for our annual meeting is listed below. We are request your full name, email address and USA Fencing Member ID for admission to the meeting. Any VA Division member is allowed to attend our Annual Meeting.

Meeting: VA Division Annual Meeting
When: Jul 2, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/…/tZEpfuiuqzkiGdM9Ix2M0moT4EazjU43B…

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Thank you for your time in reading this.  Any questions can be sent to rweiss1@yahoo.com.

Virginia Division Annual Meeting and Election

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Dear Virginia Division of USA Fencing Member,

We hope that you and your family members are well. We miss seeing everyone at tournaments and clinics but understand that staying healthy during COVID-19 regardless of our current restrictions should and will remain our number one priority for our membership. When you receive this, we will all be in “Phase II”, which means that our clubs can operate indoors in a reduced capacity and we stress that you observe every guideline and MANDATE in place along the way. Only this will ensure that you, your fencer, and our community can remain healthy as we move forward.

This email serves as the announcement of the Virginia Division’s annual meeting and election on July 2nd at 7pm EST for the upcoming 2020-2021 fencing season. Historically, we’ve held our elections at the conclusion of our Division Championships’ Saturday events in May, but since we’re not holding events, we are going to do this virtually.

Annual Meeting Agenda:
Reading of minutes of previously held meetings called by the Chairman (if any)
Reports of:
Chairman
Vice-Chairman
Secretary/Treasurer
Other Divisional Officers, committee chairmen, and administrative assistants (when appropriate)
Proposed amendments to the By-Laws
Election of officers (when appropriate)
Unfinished business
New business

A meeting of the Executive Committee shall be held after each of the USA Fencing divisional meetings.

Our current Board:
Richard Weiss (Chair), Ron Thornton (Vice Chair), Ted Smith (Treasurer), Meredith Powers (Secretary), Greg Kaidanov, Damian Lehfeldt, Julia Jiang, Scott Farber, Nic Papadopoulos (All At-Large).

Julia Jiang and Nic Papadopoulos have decided not to run again and we thank them both very much for their service to the Board this past season.

Amy Lingley (Owner of LIFC and former 3X officer) and Andrew Grass (Coach at AIC, and VA Division Native) have both stepped up to become officers for 2020-2021.

The VA Division Board is very happy to have these “new” people on the Board, and requests that our membership accept the new slate as proposed in consideration of COVID-19 and the difficulties of running an election with proxy votes during a zoom meeting. However, we do not wish to prevent someone from running as it is against our by-laws. If you would like to run for VA Division Officer, please review our by-laws to understand the roles and responsibilities of being an officer at www.va-usfa.com and then send an email to rweiss1@yahoo.com, declaring your candidacy by June 25, 2020. No candidates will be allowed to run after June 25.

If an election is held, the annual meeting will be held as stated above, excluding the election. Once the meeting is completed, the Annual Meeting Zoom call will end, and those verified to vote the VA Division election will move to another Zoom call for electing our officers. USA Fencing rules apply to voting in VA Division elections, “Members 18 and over, as of February 1st of the membership year, have the right to vote…” This applies to every level of USA Fencing membership except Non-Competitive, International Competitive License and Global Limited.

Registration information for our annual meeting is listed below. We are request your full name, email address and USA Fencing Member ID for admission to the meeting. Any VA Division member is allowed to attend our Annual Meeting.

Meeting: VA Division Annual Meeting and Election
When: Jul 2, 2020 07:00 PM Eastern Time

Register in advance for this meeting:
https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZEpfuiuqzkiGdM9Ix2M0moT4EazjU43BnoU After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Thank you for your support of the Virginia Division and hope to see you on July 2nd. If you have any questions, please send an email to rweiss1@yahoo.com or any officer and we’ll get a response to you as quickly as we can.

Take good care,

Richard Weiss
VA Division Chair

National Championships and July Challenge Canceled Due to COVID-19

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(Colorado Springs, Colo.) – In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, USA Fencing has announced the cancellation of the National Championships and July Challenge, which was scheduled to be held in Louisville, Ky.

Originally scheduled for June 28 – July 7, the tournament, which draws nearly 5,000 participants ages 8-80+ over 10 days of competition, was previously postponed with the potential of holding the event in August.

“Summer Nationals has become the largest fencing tournament in the world and the culmination of the season for athletes of all ages over the last 30+ years. But the tournament is more than that. For athletes and their families, coaches and tournament staff, Summer Nationals has become a tradition and an opportunity for the fencing community to come together every year,” said USA Fencing Senior Director of Sport Operations Christine Strong-Simmons. “We worked with our partners at the Louisville Sports Commission as well as the Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Kentucky Division over the past two months regarding dozens of possible scenarios and contingency plans to hold the event in August or September. However, the health and well-being of our members is the most important thing to consider at this time and now we will focus on preparing for what fencing competition looks like in the upcoming season.”

At this time, the state of Kentucky is not allowing gatherings of more than 50 people until July 1 with the timeline for when the state will open for large events still unknown.

On May 15, USA Fencing sent out a survey to all competitive members as well as tournament officials to receive feedback regarding what safety measures the community would like to see put in place when events resume as well as the likelihood that competitors and staff would participate in an upcoming event such as Summer Nationals.

With more than 3,000 respondents participating in the survey, only 35% of those who previously planned on competing at Summer Nationals described themselves as “likely” or “very likely” to compete at a national event held in August with 38% responding in the same manner for a national event in September. Accordingly, only 35% of tournament officials responded that they would be likely to volunteer to work a national event an August with the number increasing to 41% in September. Additional surveys will be conducted in the coming weeks.

View Summer National Event Survey Results

“We appreciate everyone who took the time to share their feedback. While canceling this event for the first time in the history of Summer Nationals was a challenging decision, we will be doing everything we can to work on how to structure future tournaments in a manner that helps protect all participants,” said Brandon Rochelle, chair of the Tournament Committee. “With states around the country still under orders such as stay at home or safer at home, one of the challenges this tournament presents is when athletes will be able to return to regular training in order to be in proper condition to compete at a national level event. We all want to return to competition as soon as possible, but we also need to ensure that athletes have time to prepare for such an event.”

On April 29, the USA Fencing Board of Directors made the decision to allow the sanctioning of non-competitive fencing activities 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. 

Although the sanctioning of local and regional events has not resumed, USA Fencing released Return to Fencing Guidelines on May 26 to help athletes, coaches, club owners and division officers prepare to return to lessons, practice and training as states begin to reopen and allow such activity.

“Club owners and coaches around the country have been extremely innovative in order to keep fencers engaged in the sport throughout the last few months. As clubs begin to reopen throughout the summer, we know fencers will be excited to return to the sport. Although we are all disappointed at the cancellation of Summer Nationals, we encourage fencers to return to practices, lessons and camps in preparation for a return to competition at all levels as soon as we can safely do so,” said USA Fencing CEO Kris Ekeren.

Athletes will age out of their current age categories on July 31. As announced in April, classification degradation will take place on Jan. 1, 2021 rather than Aug. 1, 2020.

Additional information will be provided on or before June 18 regarding the National Points Standings. The National Office will work with the Sports Performance Resource Team, Tournament Committee, Veterans Committee, Parafencing Resource Team, Athlete Advisory Committee (AAC), Youth Development Resource Team and National Coaches in order to determine the impact of the cancellation of national events due to Covid-19 on National Points Standings.

Any details regarding future event dates will be released at www.usafencing.org.

Athletes who previously requested that registration and event fees from the March and April North American Cups or Division I National Championships be transferred to Summer Nationals will be contacted by the National Office regarding refunds.

Additional details regarding events that were scheduled to take place during the National Championships, including the 2020 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony as well as the 2020 All-Academic and All-American Receptions, will be posted in the coming weeks.

If you have questions regarding the event, the refund process, etc., please contact nationalevents@usafencing.org.

Letter to USA Fencing Membership from CEO Kris Ekeren

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Dear USA Fencing Family,

First and foremost, I hope that you and your family are safe and healthy during this most difficult time. Everyone at USA Fencing is thinking of our members, clubs, coaches, officials, volunteers and others in the fencing community.

The USA Fencing Board of Directors continues to hold meetings every 2-3 weeks which are open to any member who would like to call in and listen to the meeting. In addition, USA Fencing will host a Town Hall meeting on May 19, 2020 at 7 pm ET.  Questions from the membership can be submitted to BoardQuestions@USAFencing.org.

For both clubs and events, we are faced with the fact that parts of the country will lift restrictions on athletic activity, including fencing, more quickly than other areas. USA Fencing decided and announced following the April 29 board meeting that it would resume sanctioning club fencing on a rolling basis.  We are still considering when and how to resume our sanctioning of competitions and will provide an update on June 1st.

Clubs
At its April 29, 2020 meeting, the USA Fencing Board of Directors approved the re-sanctioning of in-person activities (excluding competitions) at member clubs in locations where the clubs are permitted to operate or reopen by local and state laws, regulations, executive orders and other legal mandates regarding COVID-19. Sanctioned activities will be covered by USA Fencing insurance, subject as always to policy terms and conditions.

We are concerned with the number of clubs that are struggling to remain viable and again would encourage club members to support your clubs in any way you are able. USA Fencing is also exploring ways that we can assist clubs with insurance, marketing assistance and other membership items as we go into the next membership year. 

Events
The scheduling of sports events around the nation, including competitions, conferences and conventions, remains a challenge. Sports governing bodies, leagues and teams have been working with government officials to determine when such events can resume safely. Subject to USOPC guidelines and our Board’s approval, USA Fencing is tentatively planning to sanction local events first, followed by regional events and finally national events. To assist with building local sanctioned events, USA Fencing is adding the benefit of fencing at one local event to all non-competitive members to encourage competitive opportunities at the local level. 

I know that a great concern to many is whether Summer Nationals will be held this year and we will make a final decision by the end of May. While we know everyone is looking forward to competing again, our first priority is making sure the progressive launch of competition opportunities is done in a manner that is as safe as possible for participants and is consistent with local, state and federal guidelines. 

Finally, we will be sending out event surveys this week to all athletes, parents, referees and tournament officials to better gauge the interest and comfort level of the fencing community as we evaluate the Return to Fencing options.

Financial Information
With the loss of two national events, a large regional event and the current postponement of Summer Nationals, the financial situation for USA Fencing is extremely challenging. We will end the membership year with a significant financial loss and dip heavily into reserves that have slowly built up over the past few years.  The National Office staff size has been reduced by 22% and we will consider other overhead reductions in the upcoming weeks.

USA Fencing has focused on diversifying revenue streams over the past few years, which is a challenge faced by many National Governing Bodies of similar size. Progress has been made on philanthropic efforts; however, there is much work to be done on securing sponsorships for the organization. The current world situation will require creativity and dedication to secure additional funding.

Strategic Direction
Shortly before the Covid-19 pandemic, USA Fencing was in the final stages of completing the strategic plan for 2020-24 while looking towards 2028. Volunteer, athlete and staff leaderships are currently working on a Recovery Plan for the next 12-18 months with the goal of transitioning to the 2021-24 strategic plan as soon as possible. The updated plan focuses on many initiatives around athlete and member wellness, growing the sport, coaches and education and diversifying revenue.

Many of you have questions on how USA Fencing, our clubs and coaches and the sport of fencing will recover from this crisis. While we don’t have all the answers as we face many uncertainties if you have questions or feedback, please reach out to me at k.ekeren@usafencing.org.

I remain confident that the fencing community will once again rise to the challenge of not only surviving, but thriving, by working together and honoring the core values of the organization – excellence, respect, teamwork, inclusion and passion.

In Sport,

Kris Ekeren
USA Fencing CEO

USA Fencing Update on Sanctioning of Online Lessons and Classes by Member Clubs and Coaches

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Due to the disruption to normal fencing lessons and practices caused by COVID-19, USA Fencing has been in frequent contact with our insurance providers concerning the availability of coverage for online training offered by member clubs and coaches. Today, our insurers advised of their following updated position: Until such time as in-person practices can resume, our general liability coverage will extend to online lessons, classes and other training sessions. Accordingly, USA Fencing is now sanctioning such activities, effective immediately, April 20, 2020.

Please note that all virtual training/coaching/instruction/meetings must be conducted under the same terms, conditions and rules applicable to in-person training. Among other things, clubs, coaches and participants must all have appropriate levels of USA Fencing membership. Those offering the online sessions must supervise the participants. All interactions involving minors remain subject to requirements of the Minor Athlete Abuse Prevention Policies (MAAPP). Some helpful recommendations from the U.S. Center for SafeSport regarding digital communications can be found here.

As announced during the club and division calls last week, USA Fencing will be discussing possible re-entry scenarios for other sanctioned activities at the April 29, 2020 USA Fencing Board of Directors meeting. 

We know that our clubs are facing many challenges and are hopeful that the online sanctioning will assist during these uncertain times. We will provide further updates as circumstances evolve. 

USA Fencing Sanctioning Update (4/16/20)

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Due to the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our nation and the world, USA Fencing Member and Affiliate Club activities will remain unsanctioned through at least April 30Unsanctioned activities will not be covered by USA Fencing’s insurance. Neither USA Fencing nor any of its divisions will be sanctioning any competitions until at least May 11.

At its next meeting on April 29, the USA Fencing Board of Directors will be reviewing sanctioning dates as well as discussing long-term plans for resuming competition and training in a manner that provides a safe environment for all participants in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control as well as state, local and federal governments.