With recent changes to the USFA qualification rules for Y10 and Y12 fencers, many parents are confused and we’d like to do our best to clarify the new rules and answer some common questions.
We know that you are working to plan your next year of fencing competitions and many of you want your children to have the best chance of qualifying for Summer Nationals! Particularly since next year’s 2015 Fencing Summer National Championship will be held in San Jose, California, what better destination can you imagine for a mid-summer break from work and to spend time with your child fencing?
Of course we want your children to qualify too! That’s why we’re writing this post to help as much as we can. These changes may have a big impact on your planning to get to Summer Nationals, so, let’s talk through the changes and implications. After reading, please feel free to ask any questions in the comments below.
Up until now, it was really easy to understand how youth fencers (Y10 and Y12) qualified. They only had to participate in at least one Regional Youth Circuit (RYC) competition or one Super Youth Circuit (SYC) competition during the current fencing season, and Viola!, they qualified to attend Summer Nationals!
For this coming season, the rules were changed by USFA and the Youth Development Committee as a result of year after year increases in the number of fencers in these age categories. This growth in the number of fencers is great news for U.S. Fencing! But as with any sport, as the number of participants grows, so does the level of competition. So now, it will be a bit more difficult to qualify for Summer Nationals. Bring on the competition, right?
Here is our attempt to explain the new rules in the simplest possible way.
If your child has national points in Y10 or Y12, he or she is automatically qualified for that age group. Congratulations! Not only has your child qualified for Summer Nationals, but he or she is clearly on a great path with fencing if earning national points (officially called National Rolling Points Standing or NRPS) at this point in his or her fencing career! Of course, parents in this situation have most likely already figured out these new rules and don’t really need this post.
If you’re not yet familiar with national points, you are probably wondering how your Y10 or Y12 fencer can earn them. Basically there is one way to do that: perform well at national competitions. At this age, you have two options for such competitions: Super Youth Circuits (SYCs) or North American Cups (NACs). NACs are big events and might have more than 100 fencers in these age categories, so it’s quite challenging for a novice fencer to perform well enough to earn national points. SYCs are smaller competitions with 30-50 fencers (typically) and one needs only to finish in the top 40% to earn national points. Obviously, SYCs are the easier path to earning national points.
Still, many fencers in this age group will not have national points (which is totally normal and expected!), so let’s move on to other qualification paths. Without national points here is the qualifying path:
- For Y10, the fencer must only have some regional points. Any amount, and you are in. Note that currently all fencers in Regional Youth Circuits (RYCs) tournaments earn regional points (even last place), so really that means the fencer must merely attend at least one RYC.
- For Y12, the fencer must be in the top 50% for regional points (in his or her region), or finish any SYC in the top 40%.
Seems simple enough, but I think some of you are confused on what regional points are and how to earn them. Thankfully, the answer is very simple. But first, it’s helpful to understand (or review) the definition of a region.
The U.S. is divided into six youth regions. A region is a union of multiple states in geographical proximity. For example, California is part of Region IV (i.e., “the Pacific Coast region”), which is composed of California, Nevada, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. Each region holds several RYCs per year in different locations throughout the region. Currently, if you participate in any RYC, you will earn regional points because every place is awarded some amount of points.
Keep in mind that all of this information is up-to-date as of the time of posting, but the rules can change. We will update this post or publish a new one if the USFA releases a new method for calculating points.
At a RYC, in Y10 events, first place earns 50 points and in Y12 events, first place earns 100 points. Then you divide this first place point total by the number of participants and go down that much to calculate the points for each place.
For example, with 20 participants in a Y12 event, first place earns 100 points because it’s Y12. Then you take away five points for second place (100/20 = 5), so they earn 95 points (100-5 = 95). Third place earns 90 points (95-5 = 90), and so on. If you follow this logic through, you will see that last place earns five points.
To determine number of regional points for a season, you take the top three RYC results (in your region) and sum the number of points earned at those three competitions. If the fencer only earned points in one or two competitions, you simply count whatever points he or she earned. USFA will look at these points prior to the Summer Nationals registration deadline and figure out which fencers are in the top 50% with the number of regional points.
One clarification: Only points earned at RYCs within your own region count towards qualification. So if you go to another region to compete in a RYC, these points will not count toward your total for qualification. We still suggest you go and compete (as much as you can!), but just remember any earned points won’t go towards your count in your region.
What does all of this really mean? Heightened competition. Kids having to fight for their places in Summer Nationals. Going to as many RYCs in your region as possible to increase the chances for qualification. As parents you may need to plan more carefully—your season may need to include more trips (budget implications) than previous years and you may need to be more hands-on to give your fencer the best chance of qualifying. Nonetheless, overall, this change is great for the sport as it grows in both size and level of competition, and the athletes have no choice but to keep up.