The ambiance of a small town

Women Fencing in 1888. Healthful Diversion for Women

A small club is different then its larger brethren, I equate it with a small town vs a big city.The big club has all the bells and whistles, and a goodly amount of fencers to practice your skills. The small club can however, can offer something valuable to the mix as well, if done right. Fencers success and the clubs success, does not have to be limited, if coaches understand the issues and are creative in finding solutions. Thoughtful use of space, minimizes potential problems. It does not always work, but yes Virginia, small can be a wonderful thing.

I went recently to an “E” and under competition with a few of my students. This time of year in my area where competitions are rather sparse, the hour and a half drive was deemed well worth it. We were greeted with true hospitality by the Maryland Fencing Club, a small but well run establishment that gave the feeling, to quote the Cheers TV show, “Everybody knows your name”. Often times, if I am to be truthful, E rated competitions can a rather brutal affairs. You’ll sometimes see a few bumptious novice fencers trying to win by strength and aggressiveness, others standing clueless, getting overwhelmed by it all. With this background I was pleased to see actual fencing, OK, perhaps not world class, it being an “E” and all, but clean, thoughtful and fun fencing, across the board! I see this as the result of quality coaching. The directing was better then expected as well. All the “new” rules were clearly stated at the beginning, and an introduction to the bout committee, and how to use the committee if questions arose, was offered. A small but welcome addition for such competitions. Hats off to the Maryland Fencing Club.


So too, I was impressed by the use of space, Greg Paye the proprietor/head coach, said this “You have to think like your aboard a small ship, everything needs to be considered”. I came away inspired by this small club. I will gladly send my students there for competitions and recommend it if your in their area, so check them out.

So, no more excuses for us small clubs, let us maximize our strengths in our minimized space with quality over quantity. Add the atmosphere of welcoming and community and we can go a long way. Support your local clubs, large and small. Spread the word.

coach Geoff