Congratulations to PCS Members at the Las Vegas World Cup!

Congratulations to the following members of the Pacific Coast Section and their efforts at the 2008 World Cup in Las Vegas, Nevada (June 19-23, 2008).

Women’s Foil

  • Doris Willette – 11th Place
  • Madison Zeiss – 26th Place
  • Pilar Alicea – 44th Place
  • Phenix Messersmith – 58th Place

Men’s Sabre:

  • Barron Nydam – 47th Place
  • Jason Rogers – 56th Place

The Referee was Horrible! What do I do?

As both Section Chair and a national referee, I have heard this complaint very frequently.  As the parent of two great fencers, I’ve felt it too.  Competitors scream and cry, coaches curse in a variety of languages, parents feel cheated.  Everyone says “why can’t we get better referees?”

First of all, like the rest of us, referees are imperfect, make mistakes, have good days and bad days.  But, with rare exception, they are all giving the task in front of them their fullest attention and best efforts.  Yet even the best referees make mistakes.

Second, they are usually seeing the action at an angle better than any spectator or coach.  An action that looks one way from directly in front of it can look like an entirely different action at the end of the strip.  Don’t assume that because you or your coach see it one way, that the referee will see it the same way – that isn’t always the case.

Third, refereeing is a difficult, high-stress and thankless job.  When it pays, it pays poorly.  The hours are long (at the 2008 PCCs, I worked two 13-hour days).  Worse yet, the highest-stress, most difficult calls often happen at the end of very long days.  It isn’t an easy job.

I often say that I referee for four reasons – the hours, the pay, the food, and the respect that I get from the fencers, their coaches and their parents.  I must be crazy ;).

These characteristics make it difficult to hire and recruit referees.  Getting paid very little to eat bad food, stand around for 13 hours a day and get yelled at is not the most attractive job.  But still, we do it – to give something back, to gain some status, because we enjoy the camaraderie of our brethren – all sorts of reasons.  We are even able to pull new people into it – slowly and reluctantly, for sure.  Sometimes these new refs are calling your bouts.

So what to do about a referee who is seeing it differently than you (or your child) is doing it?  Different from their coach’s advice?  Simple.  Change what you or your child is doing.  In a 5 or 15 touch bout, it is unlikely that the fencer is going to be able to teach the referee to see their perfect action.  Furthermore, trying to prove that action will likely cause the fencer to loose.

In foil and sabre, particularly, the fencer is fencing two people – the opponent and the referee.  He or she has to score with both of them to succeed.  


Did I (or my child) qualify for Nationals?

Qualification is one of the most frequently asked questions that the Section officers get. No doubt, it is because the rules are somewhat arcane and confusing. The best resource for the answer to this is the Athletes’ Handbook, distributed by the USFA (link to that document is here).  I encourage you to review Section 2 of that document – it provides the clearest explanation of qualification.

The simple (sort of) rules are as follows:

  • in a qualifier, the top 25% (rounded up) qualify – with a minimum of 3. Thus, if the qualifier has 15 fencers, places 1-4 will qualify. If there are 17 qualifiers, places 1-5 will qualify (remember, rounding up).
  • if there are people who have already qualified (through national points, for example, or through other events), the number of potential qualifiers increase.  Thus, in our example with 15 fencers, above, if the fencer who finished second is on the points list for a particular event, then the 1, 3, 4 and 5 will qualify.
  • Be sure to review the age restrictions, etc., to make sure that the event is available.  Certain events have their annual changeover
  • mid-year (because of the world cup cycle).  Consult the Athletes’ Handbook.
  • There is an appeal process – but the appeal process doesn’t always work.  Perhaps the most consistent successful appeals are those based upon a verified injury at the event for a fencer who has a history of performing successfully at that level.  Of course, other appeals are considered – but it is important to understand that nearly everyone thinks that they should have qualified – so a successful appeal may be more difficult to get than expected.  The appeal process is in the Athletes’ Handbook.
  • Congratulations to the “A”‘s of 2008!


    Alicea, Pilar C
    Bravo, Nobuo U
    Chan, Edbert Y
    Chang, Jason
    Chang, Jerry
    Dew, Eric
    Dollar, Chris
    Henvick, Allison M
    Khoshnevissan, Christopher K
    Lew, Dillon M
    Louie, Brennan W
    Martin, Jeffrey P
    Massialas, Alexander C
    Mattox, Norman S
    Meinhardt, Gerek L
    Nguyen, Danny T
    O’Barr, Kieran C
    Padgitt, Tedd S
    Schenkel, Eli A
    Urbain, Kevin
    Vella, Anthony
    Willette, David G
    Willette, Doris E
    Zeiss, Madison E


    Alexander, Charles H
    Aljibury, Halim F
    Amos, Madeline
    Bethel, Dylan A
    Bothelio, Jere P
    Carnahan, Garrett M
    Case, Dylan P
    Demirchian, Gagik M
    Gegan, Cooper M
    Hansen, Eric J
    Hedges, Philip S
    Jensen, David J
    Lichten, Keith H
    Neveu, Grace K
    Ordody, Gyorgy
    Peterson, Emma K
    Raynis, Michael A
    Rentmeister, Andrea
    Rhea, R. Robert
    Rock, Matt W
    Safford, Hannah R
    Sallembien, Nicolas H
    Tepedelenlioglu, Mehmet


    Nydam, Barron W
    Rogers, Jason N

    PCS Fencers in the Olympics!

    Congratulations to our Sections Olympians!

    • Doris Willette – Golden Gate Fencing Center – Womens’ Foil
    • Gerard Moreno – Los Angeles International Fencing Center – Men’s Wheelchair Foil & Sabre (Category B)
    • Gerek Meinhardt – The Massialas Foundation – Men’s Foil
    • Jason Rogers – Los Angeles International Fencing Center – Men’s Sabre
    • Scott Rodgers – San Diego – Men’s Wheelchair Foil & Epee (Category B)

    When you see them, congratulate them and wish them our best!

    The next few months


    Welcome to the new Pacific Coast Section web site.  Over the next few months, as we transition to a new PCS administration, this web site will contain updates and information that I hope you will find useful.

    The first thing I would like to do is offer my sincere gratitude, and encourage you to offer your sincere gratitude, to Frank van Dyke.  He ran the section for 13 years – pouring his heart and soul into it.  The result was a group of events that were exceptional at this level – both in quality of fencing and the event experience.  Trust me when I say that far more goes into this job than one would expect – and Frank was the engine for a section that has excelled over the past thirteen years.

    Continuing the fine work of Frank will take lots of collective effort.  I hope that we can count on each of you to help where possible. 

    Again, my sincerest “thank you” to Frank and those who have helped him over the years.
    Best regards,