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San Francisco & Northern California – Growing Twice as Fast as the National Average in Fencer Activity

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Northern California

With jurisdiction over the counties of Sonoma, Marin, San Francisco, San Mateo, Alameda and Contra Costa in the State of California, the Northern California Division was the 8th largest Division of USA Fencing in terms fencing activity in 2016-2017.  Generating about 3,900 local and regional fencer-events¹, the Division joined New Jersey, New England, Central California, Illinois, Metro NYC, Southern California, Virginia, Gulf Coast and Georgia to make the Top Ten List for fencing activity in the U.S. The Division is home to Massialas Foundation (M Team), a 2016-2017 “Fencing Club of the Year” recipient.  It is also home to nine “Best Fencing Clubs” recipients for 2016-2017. In addition, two of the Division’s clubs, Massialas Foundation (M Team) and Halberstadt Fencers’ Club  made the Top 20 in the National Fencing Club Youth Championships – SYC for 2016-2017.  The San Francisco Fencers’ Club and Massialas Foundation (M Team) also made the Top 20 in the National Fencing Club Championships – USA Fencing National Tournaments 2016-2017.

The number of local and regional fencer-events generated by members of the Division has grown at the compound annual rate of 8.4% per year since 2008-2009 which compares with the national average growth rate of 4.4% per year over the same period. The growth in fencer-events has been underwritten by the sustained growth in foil which has grown at the compound annual rate of 13.1% over the period. Saber and epee activity have trailed foil, growing at the annual rate of 6.6% and 3.4% respectively. The historical growth in fencer-events is illustrated in the accompanying graph. Foil is clearly the largest segment and accounted for almost 53% of fencer-events generated in the Division in 2016-2017, followed by epee at 27% and saber at 20%.

Club Activity

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 2016-2017 is illustrated in the accompanying graph. The Massialas Foundation (M Team), Halberstadt Fencers’ Club, and East Bay Fencers Gym accounted for about 53% of fencer-events generated in 2016-2017. Fencers from the Massialas Foundation (M Team) generated the largest number of fencer-events at 999, almost all of which were foil. The Halberstadt Fencers’ Club was the runner-up at 516 fencer-events with most in saber (75%).

The growth in foil fencer-events generated by the clubs with large foil programs in the Division is illustrated in the accompanying graph. The graph clearly demonstrates that the Massialas Foundation (M Team) and the San Francisco Fencers’ Club dominated foil fencer-events in 2016-2017, accounting for 68% of all foil fencer-events generated in the Division. Massialas Foundation (M Team) witnessed a dramatic jump in fencer activity, growing by 132% over 2015-2016.

The following graph clearly demonstrates that Halberstadt Fencers’ Club is the largest generator of saber fencer-events in the Division. The club accounted for about 52% of all the local and regional saber fencer-events generated in the Division in 2016-2017.

East Bay Fencers Gym, located in Oakland, is clearly the dominant club generating local and regional epee fencer-events in 2016-2017. The club accounted for 42% of the epee fencer-events generated in the Division. Marin Fencing Academy and Golden Gate Fencing Center  were runners-up generating  21% and 11% of epee fencer-events respectively in 2016-2017.


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.

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