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Letter from USA Fencing President Don Anthony Jr.

08/31/2012, 7:47am CDT
By No Author

As I begin my term as President of USA Fencing, I would like to reach out to all of you and thank those who voted in the last election, regardless of your choice of candidate, as well as those who were not able to vote but who care about fencing.


From: Donald K. Anthony, Jr., President, USA Fencing

To: All USA Fencing members

As I begin my term as President of USA Fencing, I would like to reach out to all of you and thank those who voted in the last election, regardless of your choice of candidate, as well as those who were not able to vote but who care about fencing. I am humbled, honored, and excited by the task ahead and by what we all, together, can accomplish over the next four years leading to Rio 2016.

Thank you to my predecessors and to all the dedicated volunteers for their efforts and contributions. I would like to invite everyone to join me in the task ahead. No single person or small group of “experts” can have all the answers to the challenges facing us and USA Fencing. Since we live and operate in a rapidly changing world, the Board and I need your constant input and the advice of key outside parties.

In the four years ahead, starting now, we must stand ready to redesign plans and create new growth models. Global fencing is suffering from a crisis of imagination with respect to how we grow our sport. This presents us with the unique opportunity to apply our best assets—American entrepreneurship and innovation—and by doing so, gain a leadership role in the World fencing community.

All of you are our greatest strength. USA Fencing, like American society, is a large family with members having different needs, expectations, and priorities but held together by a common thread—the love and passion for fencing at all levels, be it competitive, recreational, veterans, scholastic, collegiate, historical, or Paralympic. Fencers could not aspire to succeed without the work and dedication of all of you. This includes first and foremost, family members and coaches. We must recognize that throughout the World it is the coach who creates the fencer with the support and dedication of the fencer’s family. Yet fencers, their families, and their coaches cannot operate in a vacuum. They need an ecosystem, which includes referees, armorers, trainers, sport medicine specialists, tournament personnel, staff, volunteers, spectators and sponsors. The role of USA Fencing is to ensure that this ecosystem stays healthy by devising and implementing sustainable policies. The Board and I need your help in accomplishing this.

I had the pleasure to be at the London Olympic Games as a private citizen, and I want to officially salute our Women’s Epée Team for their first historic bronze Olympic medal. I would also like to congratulate all of our Olympic fencers and those who tried, but did not qualify for the Games, their coaches and their families. In life, as in sport, dedication and passion do not guarantee success. Indeed circumstances, as well as luck, are important components in the final outcome.

While we had tremendous success in Beijing, Team USA advanced to the medal rounds on four occasions in London, but fell short of the goals our team had hoped to attain. Team USA ended the Games with an overall standing of fourth behind Italy, Korea and Russia with six top-eight finishes in the individual events in addition the bronze medal win by the Women’s Epée Team and a fourth place finish from the Men’s Foil Team. This put our athletes ahead of China, Germany, Romania and France. With nearly all of the athletes who placed in the top eight as individuals planning on continuing to aim for the podium in Rio, our bench is deep and I want to congratulate all our elite athletes for these results, and thank them for their efforts. We will continue to do all we can to support you and give you the means to arrive in Rio ready to show the world that USA Fencing is a power to contend with.

Please join me in wishing good luck to our athletes ready to compete in London at the Paralympic Games. You make us all proud by qualifying six fencers, and we know what sacrifices you have made to reach this point. Thanks to you, your coaches, and your families.

To the 95+ percent of the members who will never have the chance to compete at an Olympic or World Championship level, know that I am well aware that US Fencing exists only because of you. You are the most important constituency, and not just in number. You are our breeding ground where all of our elite athletes are born and raised. You also provide coaches, referees, DT members, volunteers, etc. who make it possible for us to have an elite program. You might feel, and deservedly in my opinion, that not enough attention is paid to your needs and desires. I will do my utmost to show you with deeds, not just words, that we are listening, that we want to work for you and with you.

We shall work with you but we need your help. The most immediate help each and any of you can give is to renew your Annual Membership on an appropriate level, and bring friends and other fencers into our Organization who are not members yet, or who think that membership is not necessary if one does not compete (Membership Registration) . The first yardstick of any national governing body’s health and success is a growing membership and member annual turnover kept at a minimum. We are not alone in this predicament—national fencing federations throughout the World, including France and Italy, face the same challenges.

I want to look forward, not back and criticism of the past is not helpful if we don’t have plans for where and how we want to move forward. That being said, we all must be aware of where we stand right now.

As of August 13, 2012, the day my term officially started, USA Fencing’s finances can be simplistically, but effectively described by this snapshot which includes two figures everyone can understand:

  • Cash in the bank plus current receivables:        $197,451
  • Outstanding accounts payable:                        $875,050

This is our starting point and we all realize that in moving forward (notwithstanding all forecasted cash flows and efforts), severe and drastic measures may need to be implemented which will impact all of us. We may disagree as to some priorities, but to have priorities means that we have choices we can make, albeit difficult ones. The alternative is to be declared insolvent and possibly be decertified by the USOC, which in turn will cause the same (if not even larger) cuts, without the element of choice on our part. I will try to keep the process as transparent as possible, and I will continue to solicit advice from inside and outside the world of USA Fencing since we can learn from others best practices and failures.

Lastly, USA Fencing is operating within the USOC environment, where it competes for attention and funds with other Sports,  as well as, in the Pan-American Fencing Confederation and the FIE, where it competes with other  Nations. We want to be active participants to claim and fill the legitimate role USA Fencing deserves in these bodies, a role we earned from our past competitive results.

I look forward to working with you and listening to you, all of you. I hope that each of you will understand that some decisions we will have to make along the way may not always coincide with your wishes and desires, but I will do my best together with the Board, New Executive Director, staff, and volunteers to move us forward on the road to Rio and get us there as a viable organization, fiscally, competitively, and servicing all of our members.




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