Sunday, August 27, 2006


August 2006 Newsletter

Hi to all,

Well, I guess most of us are back in the desert by now. Mitchell Link and Chasen Chapman were in Oregon working with epee Olympian Michael Marx. Scott Pippin, Nico Bergman, Masaki Yamada and Gretchen Bueermann were in Beaverton, Oregon, participating in the elite sabre camp conducted by gold medal Olympic sabre coach Ed Korfanty. Aaron Fagan was in Paris, France, taking theatre courses, and I was again at the Olympic Training Center working with sabre paralympian Mario Rodriguez with wheelchair fencing, Junior National Epee coach, Gary Copeland, and then in Oregon working with Ed Korfanty, taking his clinic for sabre coaches.

It is quite an edifying display of the level of commitment to the sport when so many fencers from the same club go to these camps to learn new methods and techniques of fencing. Plus, the experience of being in new surroundings, with new and different fencers and coaches.

Probably a highlight for the sabre kids at Korfanty’s camp was the fact that Olympic gold medalist Mariel Zagunis was there, as well as Rebecca Ward, 16 years old, and a world sabre champion! On Friday, the last day of the camp, a round-robin fencing tournament was held. Scott, Nico and Masaki were in the same pool and they came up to me and said, “Guess who’s in our pool……Mariel Zagunis!” Only Scott managed to score three points on Mariel. (By the way, Mariel went on to win the tournament).

Now that we’re back, you probably all are aware that Nancy Scott, the owner of My Gym, was successful in re-negotiating a 5-year contract with our current landlord so, we are staying in our current location. Nancy has had a lot of refurbishing done at My Gym, and our dance room area is scheduled to be spruced up, too.

I am planning on holding a parent meeting on Thursday, September 14, at 10:00 a.m. at My Gym. I’ll have general information updates, San Bernardino Division tournament schedule, USFA National and Junior Olympic tournament schedules. I like to get together with the parents at the beginning of every season to answer questions and keep everyone informed.
If you’re not able to attend this meeting, I can always set up another one at another time and you can also get together with me one-on-one, call me or email me.

Regarding tournaments, College of the Desert will host the following tournaments: Saturday, September 23, Saturday, October 14, and the Palm Desert Open, Saturday and Sunday, November 11-12. Please note that for the Palm Desert Open, Mixed and Women’s sabre events have been added. The registration form for this tournament is already on our DFA website. I’ll keep you apprised of other San Bernardino tournament dates.

So, welcome back, everyone, and welcome to our 2006-2007 fencing season.


Leslie Taft
The Fencing Coach
College of the Desert
Desert Fencing Academy

Sunday, August 06, 2006


Olympic Training Center

Hi to Everyone,

Today is Sunday and we are starting up our last week of training.

Last week was awesome with wheelchair fencing. Our coach/instructor was three-time paralympian Mario Rodgriquez. The fire engine red wheelchairs we used were donated to us by the Republic of China. The wheelchair frames were U.S. made and we assembled those frames before Dan DeChaine and his armorers got to them!

If you think "able-bodied" fencing is fast, you should be in the wheelchair for wheelchair fencing. Speed increases 500%! It was really fun and we learned how
to come en garde, advance, lunge, half-retreat and full retreat in the wheelchair with our torso. Foil is fun, but I have to say that sabre and epee were very exciting to fence and so fast. The referees really have to be on their game to see the action and call it.

Our training day was twelve hours. We'd begin at 9:00 a.m. and finish at 9:00 p.m. We put in eight hours at the gym, the other times covered breakfast, lunch and dinner breaks and time for seminars. After 9 p.m., we were all studying the wheelchair rule book and working on our practicum. There were eight of us in the class; four men and four women, all of us with many years of fencing, so we adapted quickly and easily to the cueing and teaching.

Today, I begin level 3 epee with national epee coach Gary Copeland, who lives and has his club in Boulder, Colorado.

Wishing you, and all the DFA fencers attending fencing camps this summer, happy times and lots of learning fun!

- Leslie
The Fencing Coach
Desert Fencing Academy

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