I hope this message finds you and your families safe and healthy. These are truly unprecedented times with a tremendous amount of uncertainty. As most of us are sorting through the disruptions to what was our “normal” life, I want you to know that we will get through this challenging time together.
The Covid-19 pandemic has affected our lives in so many different ways with schools, fencing clubs and so many other businesses closing overnight – disrupting all aspects of our lives, occupations and education. Many of us are navigating uncharted waters surrounded by tons of uncertainty. In these uncertain times, I have relied heavily on my training and education in decision-making. Experts agree that the best way to make decisions in an uncertain environment is to gather as many facts as possible, verify their accuracy and chose the best option available based on the information at hand from the most reliable resources. I continue to make my decisions based on that approach, and USA Fencing is doing the same as an organization.
The pace of decision-making over the last six weeks due to Covid-19 has been relentless. Each of our decisions was made with the health and well-being of our membership as USA Fencing’s first priority, and with the knowledge that the situation was evolving at a rapid pace and corresponding adjustments would be needed. Rapid responses have been required as new information continued to present itself. We continue to review each decision through the lens of wanting to do what is best for the membership and to prepare for the future.
I feel the pain of our club owners who are shut down, the disappointment of our athletes who are left without the competitions that they trained for, the dismay of the recreational fencers who are missing their favorite activity, the difficulties of coaches and referees who are unable to practice their craft, and the burdens upon parents, volunteers and staff who are managing through it all.
I am very proud of the way we have been adapting as a sport and organization through innovative and creative approaches. When state and local governments closed businesses around the country in the face of the pandemic, the hardship for our club owners became immense and I am continually impressed by the creativity and resolve I have seen from the foundation of our organization to continue to keep their membership engaged. Our insurance carrier initially advised that its policy would not cover online instruction due to the unknowns and risk that could be involved. Other National Governing Bodies faced that problem as well, but I am pleased that we were able to announce earlier this week that we would be able to sanction and, therefore insure, online sessions effective immediately. While I understand our members’ frustration regarding insurance coverage, I am grateful to the National Office staff for their hard work to obtain an update of the insurer’s intial position and its agreement to cover online fencing training.
I am committed to doing everything we can to get through the upcoming months in the best way we can. The key to our success going forward is positioning our clubs to reopen strongly and safely and to support our athletes in their return to fencing. The Board, National Office and our volunteers are working on a strategic recovery plan to help everyone rebound from the impact of Covid-19.
We will get our clubs open fencers back on the strip as soon as it is possible to do so legally and safely. Your input is essential to this important process and, as I have throughout my presidency, I encourage anyone with suggestions on how to best implement this transition period to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. By working together, with the best minds and talent in our sport, we will recover strongly and get fencing back to an even better place than when Covid-19 disrupted our lives and sport.
Yours in Fencing!
Donald K. Anthony Jr.