Four Years with HSS: 2018 in review
Another year has come and gone, and now we are celebrating the fourth birthday of Houston Sword Sports. It’s been a busy year with a lot of growth, and we are so proud of the work the club has accomplished. Take a look back with us at 2018, as we look forward to even more great stuff in 2019!
A quick overview
This year we added four new after-school programs: Saint Mary of the Purification Catholic School, Saint Cecilia Catholic School, The Post Oak School, and Mark Twain Elementary. We had four coaches go on to bigger and better things: Lauren Baker, Evan Register, Michael Dudey, and Caroline Dikibo. We also hired four new coaches: Brian Toffelmire, Julia Fowler, Hayley Gillen, and Nick Negron. We hosted six tournaments – twice as many as we hosted in 2017. Our fencers also attended more tournaments and traveled farther than they had before. Our classes and membership numbers are growing. Here are just some of our adventures from 2018.
January 27: Fencing with the Girl Scouts
February 17: Third Annual Brash Brewery Bash
March 17-18: St. Patrick’s Day Tournament
April 13: Coach Caroline’s Last Day
April 28: Oscar Woolnough at the Wheelchair World Cup
May 12: Spring School Championships
June 18: EnPointe Wireless Strip
Summer 2018: Summer Camps
August 18: Fete de Lune
September 14: First Nerd Night
September 5: Demo at HCC Stafford
September 29: South Texas Challenge
October 11: Diana Caitlin Mayerich born
October 20-21: The Swiss Open
December 1: Fall School Championships
December 16: Eureka Heights Invitational
On to 2019!
This Spring we’ve added two more schools for a total of 12, and we’re planning to add even more in the Fall. We’re also adding more summer camps in more locations. We hope you’ll make Houston Sword Sports a big part of your 2019, too.
Houston Sword Sports: Year Three
We held our first classes in January of 2015, which makes this month our third anniversary. Happy birthday to us! Check out our 2017 Year in Review.
January 31: Benoit Signs On
On January 31, Benoit Bouysset joined Dan and Liz and became an owner of Houston Sword Sports. Since then, he’s been at the helm of our epee program, our competitive fencing program, and our coach development program.
February 11: The Second Brash
On February 11, we hosted the second annual Brash Invitational. We’d hoped to find cooler weather in February but were thwarted by record highs. Fingers crossed that, with this winter being colder in general, Brash 2018 will have nice cool temperatures.
March 3: Lease Signed
On March 3, we signed a lease for our own space inside The Zone, a facility where we’d been having Saturday classes for about a year. We took over the back two pitching tunnels and the last batting cage.
March 7: Buildout Begins
A few days later, we got started turning batting cages into a fencing club. Here’s our first load of lumber. Since we were still running classes, we had to haul a lot of fencing gear too. Good thing we had a bunch of extra cargo room.
April 15: First Classes in the New Space
On April 17, while we weren’t totally done with the buildout, we were ready to start having classes in the new space. I can’t actually find a date where we declared ourselves “done” with the buildout, because we are still adding and changing things little by little.
May 5: School Championships
Our first big event in the new space was our School Championship tournament. Fencers from our afterschool and evening classes came to see the new space and try their hand at competitive fencing. It was a great debut for the new space!
May 12: Grand Opening
Our next big event was our Grand Opening. We celebrated the new space the only way we know how – with a fencing party!
June/July/August: Summer Camps
Our camps grew this year, and we met a lot of new people! We offered full-day camps for the first time, to make things more convenient for busy working parents.
August 24-28: Hurricane Harvey
The end of August was not kind to anyone in the Houston area. Once the storm passed, while the city was still starting to get back to normal, we had free open fencing a couple times to let everyone get their frustrations out.
September 15: Wieck Memorial
Over the summer, Stewart Wieck passed away. Stewart was one of our founding club members and a close friend of many years. In September we had a memorial with open fencing and a memory book.
October 7: Armory Clinic
We’re very fortunate to have a world-class armorer in our club. In October, Michael gave a clinic to help us better troubleshoot and repair our weapons.
December 2: School Championship
In December we hosted our Fall School Championship. Attendance was much higher: in Y8 alone, we had 23 kids! We also introduced a traveling trophy, the Golden Mask, for the school with the best overall result. Lycee International de Houston won the Golden Mask; who will win in May?
December 9: Light Saber Class
To celebrate the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, we did a light saber stage combat class of our own. Participants learned the fundamentals of stage combat and then created their own fight scenes.
(Sad you missed it? We’re doing another on Feb. 9!)
December 29-30: Winter Camps
We wrapped up the year with winter camps. Our youth camp was a full day, with fencing in the morning and stage combat in the evening. The adult camp was an afternoon full of tactics and techniques for competitive fencers.
And on to 2018!
It’s been a very full, and generally good year. We’ve added new classes and a lot of new fencers. We’ve added afterschool programs in two new schools and started working more closely with our college programs. There’s still a lot of room to grow, and that’s what we’re looking forward to in 2018. We hope you’ll be part of making 2018 bigger and better than 2017!
Introducing Benoit Bouysset
Last night Houston Sword Sports welcomed a new member to our coaching staff and our ownership team. Benoit Bouysset, French Master (Maitre) and former coach of the US National Men’s Epee team, is now leading classes and giving lessons at Houston Sword Sports!
Benoit’s official title is Chief Development Officer, but his informal title is Chief Epee Officer (which Liz gladly ceded to him). Benoit will be working with us to develop our coach development program, our class curriculum, and our competitive fencing team.
Coach Development: We have always placed a strong emphasis on coach development, and with Benoit on the team we’ll be able to do an even better job. Our goal at Houston Sword Sports is to have a collaborative staff of qualified, knowledgeable coaches working together to build our fencers. We have been holding semi-regular coach training sessions where we discuss our club’s philosophy and approach to coaching. Benoit will take the helm on these sessions now. He’s especially qualified to do this because his Second Level Master of Arms degree emphasized coach development and training. In the next six months, we hope to offer coaching clinics to those outside our club.
Class Curriculum: We already offer a lot of different programs to a lot of different types of fencers. Some of the afterschool programs are ten weeks and some are eighteen. In some schools, many of the kids have been fencing for over a year; in others, every single student is brand new to fencing. The evening and weekend classes are ongoing, and no two kids have the same level of experience. Coach Benoit will work with the coaching staff to ensure that each class has a curriculum that works for each setting and situation.
Competitive Fencing: This season, we have seen a number of our fencers enter the competitive scene for the first time, and others dedicate themselves to fencing in competitions more. Benoit will help support these fencers in their development. He will also provide more intensive private lessons to those who want to hone their skills one-on-one.
About Coach Benoit
Coach Benoit has an impressive resume. He earned his Master of Arms Degree in 1997 and was the valedictorian of his class; in 1999 he earned his Second Level Master of Arms Degree. He is a three-time world champion fencing master for individual and team epee. From 2011 to 2015 he was a resident coach at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, CO, and from 2012-2015 he was the US National Coach for Men’s Epee. He also coached Seth Kelsey, the fourth place finisher, at the 2012 London Olympics. His energy and skill make him popular with fencers of all levels and he’s a great addition to our team.