LETTER FROM THE BOARD
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
Elections for the Board of Directors of WFencing
We invite you to nominate a member of the fencing community or self-nominate to join the Board of Directors (“BoD”) of WFencing. WFencing is a nonprofit organization committed to upholding the mission of the modern Olympic dream as it relates to the fencing community. We are fencers, coaches, club owners and professionals, athletes, and parents who are members of the USAFencing and the larger fencing community. We work to achieve diversity, unity and equity among all fencing professionals regardless of race, gender, or geographic location in the United States.
Examples of our community engagement across the past year included multiple coaching forums held via Zoom with members ranging from club owners to NCAA coaches, as well as several sessions hosted by RISE promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in fencing. Dozens of individuals attended these events. We are looking for candidates to the BoD who are passionate about such work, are engaged in such work or looking to become engaged in such work. `We welcome anyone between the ages of 16 and 100.
Requirements and key dates for Candidates to the BoD are:
June 30th: Must be a member of WFencing on or before June 30, 2021. Membership sign up is online at: https://www.wfencing.org/plans-pricing. Members must be 16 years of age or older.
July 31st: The Secretary of WFencing must have received a complete nomination packet.
Nomination Packet must include:
A Statement of Interest describing the candidate's interest in serving as a member of the BoD of WFencing, as well as their experience and/or interest particularly supporting the mission of WFencing.
A resume or CV.
August 31st: WFencing BoD Elections. The results of the election will be announced by September 7th.
Nominations (self or of others) must be sent via email by 7/31/2021 to Laszlo Szabo, Secretary, WFencing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please title the email: “WFencing Board of Directors Nomination.” Please direct questions also to Laszlo.
After 16 months of Covid shutdowns, the Professional Development Committee is pleased to announce in-person opportunities for coaching education in development for next season. Nat Goodhartz and Nikki Franke created a curriculum for developing fencers. In collaboration with the WFencing Professional Development Committee, we are crafting a five weekend series of clinics that will be hosted at clubs across the country. Look also for a continuation of online hourly educational boosts on subjects relevant to everyone's team development. Examples include "The Trans Athlete," and "Coaching Identified Athletes with Autism." If you have a special field of interest, please email us and share! If you'd like to sponsor a coach, be a host location, or assist in leading clinics the first of this kind, please email Jen. Excited about the Olympics? We are too. We are looking for individuals interested in creating content and commentary around the Olympics with voiceover. We want to highlight bouts for our own education, viewing and enjoyment. Please contact Julie Seal if you have ever thought you'd be 'really good' using your voice to dissect bouts, tactics, and fencing intentions. We are all about experimentation here at WFencing! Photo credit Kiana Bates.
Good luck organizers, competitors, and coaches!
Meet up at Summer Nationals! Check Facebook for event updates. Professional Development July 3rd, 5pm in the competition lobby. Look for Coach Salmon. "Meet N' Greet" July 3rd from 7:00 pm to 8:00 pm @ Philadelphia Marriott Downtown (1201 Market Street). We will be meeting in the restaurant, called Thirteen. Hors d'oeuvres will be provided.
Our next Board meeting will be Thursday, August 5th at 2:00 pm, EST. Because of Summer Nationals and vacation/travel plans, we will forgo a meeting for July.
Safe travels to and from Philadelphia to those competing, coaching, working and/or attending our Summer Nationals Championships!
FEATURED MEMBER Tasia Ford
Tasia Ford is a former competitive sabre fencer who has been involved in the sport for 21 years. She gained her start in fencing at Beaches Sabre Club (Troy, NY) where she was coached by Carolyn Washburn-Lapham, former Canadian National Team member. She started competing at the age of 8 and always consistently made podiums in her age category. Once she was old enough, she fenced in Cadet and Junior World Cups, often placing in the team events. Her most notable finishes were placing third in women's junior sabre at the 2008 Montreal World Cup and leading the women's team to first place in the women’s cadet sabre team event at the Konin World Cup in 2008. These results lead her to be recruited to one of the more highly sought-after collegiate Division 1 women's fencing programs at Temple University. Here she was coached by Dr. Nikki Franke and Brad Baker. During her time at Temple, Tasia consistently qualified for regionals all four years. Ford was the Sabre Squad Leader starting her junior year and then was the overall Team Captain her senior year. Her final record consisted of 123-96. Post-college, Tasia started working as a professional graphic designer as well as coaching at Delaware Valley Fencers Club, Conshohocken, PA. She was the assistant coach under Milos Vasic and spent 4 years developing fencers for national level competition. Most recently, she has been welcomed back to Temple as the Assistant Coach to the program that she was a part of herself. This past season she helped qualify the maximum number of athletes from their program to be represented at the NCAA Championships. Tasia Ford also was named as an Assistant Coach of the Year finalist.
Quote from Ford on women's representation in fencing: “I know I have had a unique experience being coached by two very strong women. This has shaped me into the person I am today. I am someone who advocates for women in sports and realize first-hand how underrepresented we are in athletics. I am inspired by the young women that I coach and the women that I work with. I want to continue bringing positivity and seriousness to women’s athletics.”