In the last few weeks, I’ve had many conversations with parents who are concerned about their Y12 fencers qualifying for the upcoming Fencing Summer Nationals in San Jose, CA (in June-July 2015). It’s great when parents understand that now is the time to ask these questions because it does take some planning to ensure the best chances of qualification.
Many questions and discussions about qualification are quite general, but from the questions I’ve gotten, I’ve decided to write this post specifically for Y12 fencers, to share my thoughts and help you navigate through the planning of different qualifying paths for your children.
We posted previously about new rules for this fencing season that impact how a Y12 fencer qualifies for Summer Nationals. Revisit this post if you need to refresh on the rule changes. Now let’s discuss what this actually means and how you can build an action plan to help your fencer to qualify.
In a nutshell, a Y12 fencer qualifies for Summer Nationals in one of two ways:
1. Having national points for Y12
2. Being in the top 50% of your region in regional points
If your fencer is on the National Rolling Point Standings (NRPS) list, you can stop reading here. Your fencer will qualify with any number of national points for Y12.
If you are not on the NRPS list, then you need a plan for how to get to Summer Nationals. In other words, you need a plan to either get national points or enough regional points to be in the top 50% for your region.
The way to acquire national points is to perform well at national-level competitions: NACs or SYCs.
SYCs (Super Youth Circuit) give national points and are the easier path compared to NACs because there are twelve SYCs throughout the year (versus only one Youth NAC in the spring) and the top 40% of finishers receive points. At the same time, SYCs can be a tough qualifying path too depending on your ability to travel and your fencer’s skill level.
The twelve SYCs are spread all over the country and going to one may mean air travel and other expense and time considerations. Also, placing in the top 40% is no easy task. This most likely means getting through at least two rounds of Direct Elimination. Think back to your fencer’s performance last year to assess their chances of making the top 40% if you do attend.
For example, if your child just moved up to Y12 and didn’t perform very well in Y10, chances are they will face even tougher competition in Y12. You can also ask your club fencing coaches or consult fellow parents who you trust for an honest opinion of your child’s chances.
That being said, if you feel confident that your child is likely to place in the top 40% and you are willing to travel to the SYC, that’s a good option for qualifying. If not, qualifying through regional points is a good alternative.
For most fencers, that means going to at least three RYCs (Regional Youth Circuit) in your region, and the more the better! A region typically includes multiple geographic states and each region will have many RYCs in one season. For example, in Region 4 (to which California belongs) there were 7 RYCs last season (2013-2014).
RYCs are a relatively easier path to take for several reasons:
1. Some RYCs have lower numbers and skills attendance
2. Travel to regional RYCs should be cheaper as the states in the region are adjacent and some are within driving distance
Your fencer’s regional points will be the sum of his/her top three results at RYCs this season. So you can see that attending as many RYCs as possible gives more chances to increase the sum.
To plan your RYC participation it is important to understand the RYC schedule throughout the year. All RYCs are published on askFRED.net, but this early in the new season not all RYC tournaments for 2014-2015 are published. Nonetheless, you want to search for what is already published or look at last year’s schedule to make some tentative plans based on the fact that the schedule is often the same or similar from previous years.
Here’s how to search for published RYCs. Go to askFred.net, click on “Upcoming Tournaments,” and then search for a few different terms as organizers can enter different names for their competitions: “RYC”, “Regional Youth Circuit”, and “Region” should cover the bases. In most cases you can figure out which ones are in your region by looking for the region number, but if the region number isn’t in the title, you can look at the divisions to see whether a particular tournament is in your region.
Now, to predict some of the not-yet-published RYCs for this season, search through the results for last season. Go to the “Results” menu link and perform a similar search as the one you did for “Upcoming Tournaments” in the current season. It’s important not to book plane tickets or make definite plans around the assumption that this season will be the same as the last; however, you will likely see many similarities so this approach can be used for making tentative plans.
While you’re in the “Results” section on askFRED.net, I suggest that you take a look at the results in your child’s field. For example, if your child is a 12-year-old male fencing foil, look at the RYC results for Y12MF events. Here you can get an idea of the strength of competition at one RYC versus another and can perhaps base your planning for this season on the information from the previous season.
One more important point is that with the new rule changes, my assumption is that both RYCs and SYCs will have increased attendance across the board now that qualifying has become harder. Another good reason for you to attend as many RYCs as you can.
Not to mention that going to competitions is a great way for fencers to progress. The more competitions you attend, the more your fencer will improve and the easier it will be to qualify for Summer Nationals.