The Way Forward for USA Fencing (Part 2) A Fencing Community Question: What are the Distinct Groups that make up Fencing in the USA?


Hi Friends,

Here is part 2 of my thoughts, questions and ideas about the future of our sport.  This post is more of a quest for understanding and also bit of insight into how i think about things.

My question is, what are the distinct constituency groups in US fencing that require specific attention, resources, information etc. ?

In my mind, this is a very important question to understand.   We have a ton of great pieces that make up fencing in the USA.  A philosophy that I try to follow is to understand how all the  pieces of a whole work both on their own as well as in concert with the other parts of a whole.    I want to know what the right support looks like for each part, what each part contributes and how each can work best with the other portions of the whole to create something that together is greater than the sum of its individual parts.

So, for me is understanding what are the pieces that are “out there” in USA Fencing is critical to my thought process.  Here is my list (not ordered for priority)

– Club Owners
– School Fencing Programs (elementary/middle and high school)
– NCAA Fencing Programs
-NCAA Club programs
– Youth Fencing (U-14)
– Youth Teams (Cadet and Jr.)
–  Olympic and Senior National Team Programs
–  Non-profit fencing programs (Peter Westbrook Foundation, En Garde in Detriot etc)
– Recreational fencers
–  Veteran Fencers
– Olympic Alumni
– Parents of fencers
–  Equipment vendors and manufacturers
– Paralympic fencing
– Coaches
– Referees
– Fencing for fitness People
-Fencing Fans
-Financial donors to fencing

Would you say this list is complete and and am I missing anything?

Bonus question, what are the external groups that fencing should keep in mind?
– US Olympic Committee
-Corporate Sponsors
-Fencing Fans
-NBC and other Sports Channels
-Charitable organizations looking for support
-Schools (college and high schools etc) without fencing teams or clubs
-Financial donors not currently giving to fencing
-FIE (Thanks to Dave for pointing out that I missed the obvious!)

Am I missing anything?

Obviously, the next question is then: how do you support each of these things properly?

To Be Continued…

10 thoughts on “The Way Forward for USA Fencing (Part 2) A Fencing Community Question: What are the Distinct Groups that make up Fencing in the USA?

  1. How about the FIE as an external group?

    And maybe you’re planning on this for later, but don’t forget to look at what each group contributes, not just on what they need.

  2. @Dave: You are totally right on both things you mentioned. I added in stronger language to my post about understanding also what each piece contributes. Thought I’d made that clear by calling each piece “assets” but probably that only really implied this point.

    Yes, FIE also an important external group. Adding as well. Credit to you!

  3. Tim, another set of groups that we have encountered are Church Youth Groups and the Home School Community.

  4. I don’t feel like I am represented on this list – I’m a young adult and I think I fall somewhere in between the recreational and elite levels. I take my training seriously and compete at the highest level I can, but I’m not yet at a point where I could be considered a serious contender for a national team. Yet.

  5. Thanks for your comment. That’s exactly why I posted so I can be sure to understand everyone who is “out there” in fencing. How would you name/characterize your group? “Transitional Fencers”? What does a person like yourself or a group like this need?

  6. The term “Recreational Fencer” is used to encompass an awfully large group. I think that the real Recreational Fencers are the ones that go to practice one or two nights a week, and maybe a competition every couple of months at the most. No one seems to know how to describe succinctly the “Over-20-not-elite-but-beyond-the-local-level-practices-multiple-times-a-week-and-does-extra-training-is-not-supported-by-parents-but-will-travel-across-the-region-and-beyond-for-a-good-tournament-and-they-work-hard-to-qualify-for-Summer-Nationals-each-year” group. Well, actually, there is, but for some reason the term “DivIA” just makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Nonetheless, it’s the least understood, least appreciated, and least served population in American Fencing.

  7. @David S: there’s an analogue with youth fencers, where there are those who do it b/c they want to become elite, those who are using it for college, and those doing it with no such expectations. (Plus I guess those whose parents want them to become elite, etc..) as with all the other groups Tim’s listed, the challenge is that their interests don’t always align.

  8. How about military fencers. I never rose very high nationally back in my day due in part to my service obligation. there are many officers in all branches who were similarly situated. We fenced where we could around the world when we were not fighting. as an Army Officer, I wore my dress sabre proudly knowing I truly knew how to wield it. although Epee is the only true weapon. Lol

  9. Strong Rec fencers may be also-rans from the elite fencing POV, but they are the future of the sport because from their ranks come at least 4 of 5 of the next generation of fencing instuctors (maybe close to 5 of 5 of those who will be teaching your kids’ intro classes) – and thus the next generation of fencers. I’m guessing at the numbers, but I think if anything I understate. In my lifetime I’ve known maybe 6 coaches or instructors who were once champions – and perhaps a hundred or more who never were.

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