Congratulations to the New At-large Directors of USA Fencing - Ivan Lee, Damien Lehfeldt and Abdel Salem

Sending out a huge congratulations to the newest USA Board of Fencing members – Ivan Lee, Damien Lehfeldt, and Abdel Salem! 

The expectations for this particular board are high. We are at an inflection point in fencing, and where things go from here has everything to do with what steps the leadership takes. I take heart in knowing that the three individuals elected are from the field, and I am confident from my interactions with Abdel, Ivan, and Damien that they will listen to the people who put them in this position. 

Where we go from here has everything to do with how much we advocate. There is so much potential to make fencing in the United States stronger, more inclusive, and for it to be even better than it is right now. Growing our sport and improving our profile both domestically and internationally will help not just those at the top, but it will also support the athletes who are currently in the pipeline. 

The board has a huge impact on the policies, structures, and direction that make up fencing. These decisions are important, and they will have long lasting effects on how fencing functions for years to come. Keep in mind that these At-large seats are only one fraction of the board but that they are an integral part of the direction of fencing. Their votes will guide decisions from which ages are included to where competitions take place to how coaches and referees are structured within the national body. 

Working together for the future of fencing

In the same spirit that we say to our fencers in our club and on this blog – defeat doesn’t always have to have a bitter taste. I am thankful for the wonderful support that people gave me in the campaign, and it was wonderful to have the chance to listen to your concerns and learn more about the needs of fencers all over the country. 

Losing this election doesn’t sting because the community is so strong, and also because I do truly believe that the three men elected are going to be a positive force. While I don’t agree with them on everything, what I do know from my interactions with them is that they are compassionate and willing to put the needs of others on the table at the national level. 

This board is a step in the right direction, without question. We’ll continue to move forward, and it’s important that we reach out to the board members in general when we have strong opinions. It doesn’t matter who you are or what your place in the fencing community is – parent, fencer, referee, coach, staff, etc. Your opinion matters. Your voice matters. 

The three new at-large members are all experienced in the fencing world, and that kind of field understanding is essential to guiding the direction of fencing. These men love the sport, and that shows in how they ran their campaigns and in their backgrounds. It’s exciting to have people representing us who know what’s happening in competitions and clubs across the country. 

We as a community need to lend them a hand.

No one can do this alone. Being on the board is a major undertaking, and it comes with its own set of pressures and responsibilities on top of everything that these people are already doing. This is not a paid position, and it’s not one that goes with a lot of glory. There’s hard work and thankless hours of meetings and correspondence that are essential for the functioning of the board. We must be there for them. 

These new At-large board members have all shown that they are here to represent the people in fencing, and it should not be incumbent on them to do it all themselves. If something isn’t working – let them know! If you have concerns about how things are being carried out, say something! Especially if you have ideas about how to solve problems, lend your intellect and problem solving skills to USA Fencing. 

We are all in this together. This sport is full of highly intelligent, hardworking, wonderful people who have the ability to get things done. No one knows better than the fencers, their families, the coaches, and the people in clubs all across the country. It’s up to the community to push things in the right direction. 

Thank you for your participation!

Increasing participation in USA Fencing is how we make a difference! Many of you put your views out there, and I especially want to thank Andrey Geva and Ann Marsh-Senic for campaigning alongside me for change. 

The last six months of campaigning has brought up a great deal of conversation that will help to define what fencing looks like moving forward, and it’s exciting to see how many people are engaged, though there’s still lots of room for more voices! There was only a 26% participation in this round of voting. We have a fantastic electoral process that makes a huge difference on the ground for fencing, and your vote makes a difference!! 

This election showed so much awesome activity from the people of fencing, with lots of issues coming to the fore in passionate ways. Whatever level you participated at, remember that there are more opportunities out there for you. The board will have open seats again next year, and we’ll all be called upon once again to make our voices heard. There’s always an opportunity for us to make a difference. 

As for me, stay tuned. There’s still plenty to be done and I’m looking forward to continuing to be a voice for positive change. Next year’s election will be here before you know it, and look for me out there!

This board is a positive move for fencing in the United States, and again I want to congratulate Damien, Abdel, and Ivan. Thank you for your positive campaigning and I look forward to having you represent the community!

The image was adapted from the USA Fencing site.