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1930 - 2021
The fencing community has lost a great fencing coach and pioneer. Marietta Windsor Towry passed away two days before Christmas. She was one of the earliest women to referee and to coach. She started fencing in the living room of her Brownsville, Texas home when she was eleven. Her father, Colonel Tinnin Windsor, was a fencing instructor and it was only natural that she took up the sport. She was the only kid fencing back in those days and one of the very few women. In Marietta’s eight decades of fencing she and her husband, Bill Towry, built strong successful fencing programs in Dallas (Dallas Fencers Club) and El Paso, Texas (Texas Excalibur.) She taught and coached at the University of Texas at El Paso for 30 years, retiring at the age of 83. She coached many champion fencers. Marietta was one of the first U.S. women to gain an international referee license. In the late 1990’s, she became one of the first women to earn her Prevot D’Arms certification. It is even more impressive that Marietta gained the Prevot D’Arms certification because she lived through a time when women could not fence epee or saber but, at that time coaches had to pass the exam in all three weapons! Through her resiliency, her great sense of humor and the unwavering support of her husband, Marietta was able to break through barriers and open the doors of opportunity for other women interested in fencing coaching or refereeing. She was 91 years old and her presence in the fencing world will be greatly missed.
Dear WFencing Members and Enthusiasts,
In 2019 I gave a TEDx TALK called Opening Closed Doors to Women in Sport. Later that summer I conducted a seminar called Barriers to Women Fencing Coaches. These two events were the impetus for the formation of WFencing. It has not been easy to start a new national organization, particularly one whose core mission is to overcome systemic sexism and racism, but that’s what we’ve done and now we are celebrating our one year anniversary!!
In one year’s time, WFencing has established a constitution and bylaws and has an acting board of directors. By the end of the summer official elections will be conducted and we will have a formal board of directors. (See the notice about board elections in this newsletter or on the website.)
The current and acting board has also launched a website, established a quarterly newsletter, created a consolidated information page for prospective student athletes, scheduled a series of diversity training opportunities for members, connected the entire USA Fencing community with RISE anti-racism training, responded to racism and sexism reported by fencing referees, and launched a series of fencing coaching development opportunities we called Learning Pods. WFencing also created a process for members to vet USA Fencing Board candidates. Whew!
Although we are off and running, it is not enough. There is so much more to do and we need everyone in WFencing to consider actively serving the cause. It is an organization that cherishes diversity, new ideas, and different approaches. WFencing is looking to expand its programs, leadership opportunities and we are especially looking for diversity -- all kinds. If you would like to serve on any of the following committees, please send an email to the committee organizer:
Advocacy and Voice - Vickie Miller
Marketing and Advertising - Julie Seal
Fundraising - Jen Oldham
Referee Development Committee/ USA Fencing Task Force - Tasha Martin
Governance Committee - Sue Borgos
Professional Development - Jennifer Salmon
Program Ideas and Board Elections - Laszlo Szabo
I have been fighting sexism in fencing my whole life. When I was a young woman (in the '60s, '70s, '80s) in the throes of my fencing career I often felt alone in my quest to gain equal access to the sport I loved. I wasn’t allowed to fence epee or saber, I wasn’t respected for my athleticism or my fencing skill. Later, as a fencing coach I continued to experience "the good ole boy system" and for the longest time felt alone in my fight to gain equal access. With the formation of WFencing I now realize I have never been alone in this quest. There are many other women, people of color, and folk who identify as LGBTQ who want equal access and fair treatment in the fencing world and who also have felt alone in their fight. With the formation of WFencing none of us have to be alone in their quest anymore!
Vincent "Vinnie" Bradford
WFencing co-founder Vincent Bradford, Olympian, Professor
Coach and Community Leader.
WFencing is a nonprofit organization committed to uphold the mission of the Olympic dream as it extends to the American professional sport fencing community. We work to achieve diversity, unity and equity among all fencing professionals no matter race, gender, or geographic location in the United States.
Who are we?
We are coaches, fencing professionals, parents and athletes who believe increasing diversity among fencing professionals will greater unify Team USA, reduce SafeSport complaints, and increase participation in collegiate and club fencing nationwide. Through creating clear pathways for professional development we will accelerate our competitive sport environment. Tomorrow we will be bigger, better and stronger.
WFencing organized as a response to overt disparities of leadership heavily tilted towards one gender.
WFencing is creating best practices, consultative groups, organizational transparency models, and collaboration platforms through this crisis of Covid-19. We need unifiers to support each other today, so we can produce better fencing tomorrow.