Drawing on fencers from Savannah in the south to fencers in the Greater Atlanta Region, the Georgia Division made the Top 10 list for the largest United States Fencing Association (USFA) Divisions for generated fencer-events in 2015-2016¹. It is home to the powerhouse saber club, Nellya Fencers, a 2015-2016 “Fencing Club of the Year” recipient for its #1 ranking in Top 8 Medal Points in Youth Men’s Saber and Cadet Men’s Saber. The club also won the National Fencing Club Youth Championships in 2015-2016 based on the total number of medals awarded in fourteen Super Youth Circuit (SYC) tournaments.
In addition, four of the Division’s clubs were awarded the “Best Fencing Clubs” designation for 2015-2016; Athletic Club Northeast (Foil), Atlanta Fencers’ Club (Epee/Saber), Eagle Fencing Club (Foil/Epee) and Olympic Fencers Club (Foil). In 2015-2016 the Division was ranked 9th out of 68 in terms of the number of local and regional fencer-events generated by the Division’s members. It joined New Jersey, New England, Southern California, Central California, Illinois, Northern California, Long Island, and Virginia to make the Top 10 list of the most active fencing Divisions in the nation.
Despite its size, the number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division has grown at the modest compound annual rate of 1.8% per year since 2008-2009, compared to the national average of 4.6% per year over the same period.
The modest growth in fencer-events has been underwritten by the growth in saber which has grown at the compound annual growth of 12.2% per year since 2010-2011, while epee has enjoyed steady growth at 6% per year over the same period. Foil activity has remained stagnant. The historical growth in fencer-events is illustrated in the accompanying graph.
The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by a club is related to the number and profile of competitive members in the club, the approach of the club’s coaches regarding competitive tournaments and the quality and distance of nearby fencing competitions. Local tournament events include events that are organized by clubs, consortia of clubs and USFA Divisions. They do not include ROCs, RJCCs, SYCs, RYCs and Divisional Qualifiers which are all classified as regional tournaments. National tournaments include NACs, Championships, and the July Challenge.
The composition of fencer-events generated by the largest clubs in 2015-2016 is illustrated in the accompanying graph. Nella Fencers is by far the largest single weapon club in the Division. It generated about 20% of all local and regional fencer-events in the Division in 2015-2016. The next group of clubs, Olympic Fencers Club, Yellow Jacket Fencing Club and Eagle Fencing Club, accounted for about 29% of the fencer-events generated in 2015-2016. Fencers from the Olympic Fencers Club generated the second largest number of fencer-events in 2015-2016 at 316, about 71% from epee and 29% from foil. The Yellow Jacket Fencing Club followed with 303, 42% epee, 34% foil, and 24% saber. Eagle Fencing Club is a dual weapon club specializing in foil and epee as illustrated in the graph.
The following graph shows the growth in foil fencer-events generated by the largest clubs with foil programs in the Division over the past five years. The Athletic Club Northeast generated the largest number of local and regional foil fencer-events, but the number has fallen from 225 in 2013-2014 to 174 in 2015-2016. The second largest club, Eagle Fencing Club,which is located in Alpharetta, has recorded a jump in the number of foil fencer-events, growing from a 38 in 2013-2014 to 162 in 2015-2016 as illustrated in the graph.
The following graph clearly demonstrates that Nella Fencers, is by far the dominant saber club in the Division. It accounts for about 61% of all local and regional saber fencer-events generated by Division members.
The dominant clubs generating local and regional epee fencer-events in the Division are illustrated below. The top four clubs accounted for 72% of the epee fencer-events generated in Division. Located in Duluth, the Olympic Fencers Club has seen its epee fencer-events grow from 105 in 2012-2013 to 224 in 2015-2016.
¹ Source: askFred.net
We recognize that askFRED.net data includes non-sanctioned USFA tournaments such as high school tournaments, private club tournaments, and a few tournaments associated with fencing camps. While the data is not perfect, it nevertheless allows for a comparison of medium to long term growth rates in fencer-activity across States, Divisions, and Clubs. Provided the inconsistencies are consistent over time we are able to get a trend, and therefore an average growth rate. Despite the data limitations, we are able to make valid comparisons on the performance of States, Divisions, and clubs. For strategic decision making, timely, consistent, and directionally correct information is more important than data that is one hundred percent accurate.