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USA Fencing

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A.            FORMATION OF THE USFA   
The United States Fencing Association (USFA) was founded in 1891 as the Amateur Fencers League of America (AFLA) by a group of New York fencers seeking independence from the Amateur Athletic Union. The AFLA changed its name to the United States Fencing Association in 1981.   The USFA was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Pennsylvania in 1964 in compliance with the Amateur Sports Act and opened its national office at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado in August of 1982. Carla-Mae Richards was hired as the USFA’s first full time Executive Director in 1983.  

B.            STATUS  
The Amateur Sports Act specifically named the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) as the coordinating body for amateur athletic activity in the United States directly relating to international Olympic athletic competition. The Act included provisions for recognizing National Governing Bodies (NGBs) for the sports on the Olympic and Pan American Games programs.

The USFA is the recognized National Governing Body (NGB) for the sport of fencing in the United States. The USFA is affiliated with the Federation Internationale d’Escrime (FIE), the international federation governing the world wide sport of fencing. The FIE was founded in Paris in 1913. In 1960 Miguel A. de Capriles became the first non-European president of the FIE.

C.           MISSION
In keeping with its mission, the USFA sends teams to the World Championships, the World Under-20 Championships and the World Under-17 Championships. In addition, the USFA develops programs to assist its top athletes towards achieving international results.

The USFA selects teams to represent the USA at the Olympic Games, Pan American Games, World University Games and Pan American Fencing Confederation Championships for seniors, juniors and cadets. In 2006 the FIE mandated that each of the four world zones would establish annual zonal championships at which athletes could earn points for the FIE World point standings for seniors and juniors. There are four zones defined by the FIE: Asia-Oceania, African, Europe, Americas (Western Hemisphere).

The US has hosted two World Championships (1958 in Philadelphia and 1989 in Denver), one World Team Championships in women’s foil and women’s sabre in 2004; three World Junior Championships at Notre Dame University (1971, 1979, 1988) and two World Junior & Cadet Championships (Denver- 1993 and South Bend – 2000).

The USFA sponsors an annual Coaches College during the summer (except in an Olympic year) at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The Coaches College began in 1983 to further coaching development and has become one of its most popular coaches’ development programs. The program was suspended in 2010 pending reorganization and revamping requirements for host venue.

D.     UNITED STATES FENCING FOUNDATION (USSF) [S. Sobel Memo to BOD, 1/29/2005].
The United States Fencing Foundation (USFF) is a Colorado Corporation.  It was established in 1986 as one of similar corporations formed by National Governing Bodies of Olympic Sports (NGBs).  When the 1984 LA Olympics achieved unprecedented financial success, 40% of the surplus was awarded to the USOC, 40% to the Los Angeles Organizing Committee, and 20% was split among the NGBs.  The USFA share was $1,285,218.  It was invested in the USFF to shield the money from immediate use and provide a revenue stream for future grants to the USFA.     

The goals of the USFF are to maximize income to provide financial aid to carry out the purposes of the USFA, and to preserve the principal fund for the future.  Under the leadership of Irwin Bernstein*, since 1986 the USFF has earned and distributed to the USFA over 2 million dollars and still holds and invests a balance of over 1.5 million dollars.

The USFA Board of Directors elects the USFF Board of Trustees in accordance with the USFF Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws.  The election shall be for 7 trustees to serve until the end of the next quadrennial. [The period of time between each Summer Olympic Games is defined as the quadrennial period.] Two trustees must be nationally elected USFA officers currently serving, and five must be USFA members not serving as nationally elected officers.  At least one of the five non-officer members shall have been a past officer of the Association. Should the officer or non-officer member status of any trustees change, the trustees shall be automatically removed.  The Bylaws provide that vacancies may be filled by a majority vote of the remaining trustees, until the next meeting of the Board of Directors.   [Excerpts from S. Sobel Memo to BOD, 1/29/2005]

Board of Trustees for the USFF (2008-2012), Brad Baker, Samuel D. Cheris, Greg Dilworth, Robert Dow, Stephen B. Sobel, Steve Trevor, Edward Wright.  [BOD July 2008]

The office of Foreign Secretary was an elective position from 1951 to 1968, when it was discontinued. This office was held successively by Tracy Jaeckel, General John V. Grombach, Ralph Goldstein, Norman Lewis and George Worth. It was reinstated as an appointed position September 1, 1973. Since reinstatement, the office has been held by Chaba Pallaghy, Michel Mamlouk, Joseph Byrnes, Samuel D. Cheris and Charles Higgs‑Coulthard. The office was discontinued in1991 with the responsibilities of the Foreign Secretary assumed by staff at the USFA national office.

In 1982 the Board of Directors voted to accept the offer of the U.S. Olympic Committee to open an office at the newly established Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO. In August Anne Whiting was hired as Secretary for the office. In February 1983, Carla Mae Richards was hired as the first full time Executive Director. In 1994 she stepped down to become Director of Technical Programs and Seldon Fritschner was hired to fill the position of Executive Director. He left in June 1995. Until the hiring of Michael Massik in January 1996, William Goering was named interim Executive Director.

With the 1997 National Championships the USFA took control of the quality management and financial operations of the U.S. National Tournaments. Under this new system, the local organizing committee acts as a subcontractor to the USFA and provides, for a guaranteed fee, certain negotiated services to support the tournament. The USFA retains the responsibility for most of the specific fencing related activities of the tournament, while the local organizing committee concentrates its efforts on providing such things as volunteers, tournament assistance and assorted tournament enhancements

NATIONAL TOURNAMENTS:  From the mid 1800’s through early 1980’s the US had one National Fencing Championships, first with three individual competitions [Men’s Epee, Foil and Sabre], and four team competitions: MF, ME, MS and 3-Weapon. During those years the Championships had a very special place in the small world of US fencing topped off by a Gala Night of drinking, eating and dancing as well as recognizing the new Champions.

The NAC Junior and Cadet tournaments were initiated in 1988 with Youth NAC being initially formed in 1989 and brought to equal status of NAC tournaments several years later. Clarion Cup in 1986 in Denver, CO, was the preliminary youth tournament that stimulated interest in national series of youth tournaments that became incorporated in the North American Cup, NAC.

Affiliate Membership was discontinued in 1995. It was an option for any sports organization which (i) conducts, on a level of proficiency appropriate for the selection of fencers to represent the United States in international fencing competition, a national program or regular national fencing competition and (ii) has met its obligation with respect to the payment of dues for the membership year as specified herein