The Way Forward for USA Fencing (Part I)

Sometimes I have a little too much time on my hands during 10 hour flights back-and-forth to Europe for World Cups. With the USA Fencing elections around the corner, it just got me thinking about what fencing in the USA needs to do to grow.   The results was a 20-page document that’s very rough which captures my best thinking on what we need to do.   I’ll start with the broad overview in this post (since 20 pages usually don’t make for great blog posts!) and in the future I’ll share specifics about how we can get there.

We have one of the greatest sports in the world and the future can (and will) be amazing if we push forward in the right ways.  Feedback always welcome.

Yours,
Tim
PS Please “like” me on facebook:
www.facebook.com/timmorehouseusa  Thanks!

VISION AND ASPIRATIONAL GOALS

BIG GOAL: Create the most effective sport National Governing Body (NGB) in the world.

  1. Fencing as a regular part of Physical Education across America
  2. Strongest Performing Olympic Team in the World.
  3. Strongest Youth Development program focused on sportsmanship, life skills and dreaming big.
  4. Everyone in the USA has the opportunity to watch fencing on TV or Live.
  5. Everyone in the country has the access in their area to fencing and knows how to find a place to fence.
  6. Fencing contributes to the overall society of USA.

DRIVING PHILOSOPHIES…

  1. Set big goals
  2. Synergize the strengths of the programs and people involved in fencing.
  3. Find the best and most experience people, get them, retain them and put them in the right places to let them drive the development.
  4. Plan with the end in mind.
  5. Copy best practices of effective organizations both in sports (Professional and Olympic) and business.
  6. Embody the mentality of a champion: Never give up when faced with challenges, learn and grow from every experience and strive for excellence in all aspects.

NUMERIC TARGETS:

  1. One million plus children fencing in the USA in school programs
  2. Gold medal (s) at every Olympic Games
  3. Four Million plus members of the National Fencing Organization
  4. Fencing with four plus regular TV broadcasts on network television
  5. Twenty Million dollars plus annual fundraising and corporate sponsorship

14 thoughts on “The Way Forward for USA Fencing (Part I)

  1. I think your 1 million+ kids and 4 million+ members would require something closer to a budget of $80 million to host many more regional competitions. But the sentiments are great!

  2. Thanks for comment Eric. I don’t think a National Organizing body necessarily has to fund everything. I think if fencing is in PE in our schools that there will be funding there from the schools themselves and part of the plan would be encouraging and facilitating organizations that are already working to grow, but if we needed more money to make it happen then we’d go out and get it!

  3. Good broad goals and with a lot of work they could be achievable.

    I don’t think that the tournaments or classes need to be funneled through the NGB. Look at the models of participation in other sports, especially soccer. Lots of grass roots locally driven opportunities to introduce youth to the sport.

    Give the kids the skills to get a taste and some will get hooked. Those kids that are hooked and have a local opportunity for training can then develop into the next generation of athletes.

    Our decentralized ‘model’ is already working – look at how many of our athletes are in the top 16 vs 8-10 years ago. I’d posit that most of tht success was not the result of. Grand central plan, but a taste of success breeding more success.

  4. I have a lot of specific ideas as well that I’ll share over the next few weeks. Needless to say, a lot of the initiatives I’ve been working on include Fencing Masters, Fencing-in-the-Schools, publishing a book, getting sponsors for myself and for the fencing masters while also getting a chance to see how some other sports and organizations function have given me a lot of thoughts on this topic!

    Everything I listed is very doable.

  5. I don’t know if this is in some of your finer detailed plans, but working with NCAA or broader expansion of the intercollegiate regional groups to expand the fencing programs across the country would also help fuel the growth. The way I look at it is if parents and students say that there was more available competitive fencing in their universities it would help encourage more schools to participate at the secondary education level.

  6. @AK-jacq Yes, NCAA fencing is super important to the growth of the sport and I’ll talk about that when I get to some of the details for sure. Couldn’t agree with you more.

  7. How do you get lots more kids into fencing when the cost of equipment is much higher than other sports? It’s hard to make a commitment to fencing as a parent unless you’re pretty sure your kid will like it. Other sports with lower costs to get in (baseball, basketball, soccer, swimming) don’t have to deal with that.

  8. On the topic of costs fencing is on average is not the cost prohibitive as parents think. I have a document that compares costs for youth sports and fencing comes in behind Hockey and Baseball in costs.Most clubs allow new fencers to borrow their equipment till the kids advance.Getting it into the schools is a grassroot effort and I started the programs in my district for 2012-2013 all the kids from pre-k to High School will have fencing in their gym program. The mind set will be discussed at all levels. Schools have PTO/PTA that help fund assemblies that kick off this type of iniative. We did and the response was overwhelming. All levels have responded in addition the soccer and football teams want to have their players attend for the Winter sport activity. Fencing teaches footwork that is used across the boards. Going right now to a meeting about getting kids moving in NJ. Fencing will be my key topic.

  9. National Archery in the Schools Program went from ZERO to 1,000,000 participants per year in 10 years. As far as I know, it did not take $80M.
    I would add to the underlying structure of Tim’s proposal, service to God. I know how that sounds, but it is still America and it is still supposed to be acceptable to say it. I for one find that it makes all the difference in the world when it comes to real accomplishments.

  10. As a young person who recently discovered fencing and would be interested in trying it, I was appalled at the fact that there is only one local fencing class available in the summer. With your vision, more people will learn about fencing, therefore making others want to try the sport.

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