Coach Dan opened the trunk of his car, reveaking the familiar canvas sacks that contained the team’s equipment — the large, bulky sack of masks, and the smaller, longer sack of weapons. Rex reached in and grabbed the masks, while Double-J picked up the weapons.
“Coach, remember this tournament two years ago?” asked Rex. “How we medaled in all three weapons?”
Coach Dan smiled. “Yes. That was Miles’ first win. You came in third for epee, Greg got third in sabre. Had a bet for a drink with Razza that we’d get at least two medals, and when we wound up with more medals than the Academy that day, I told her she owed me dinner as well.”
“How’d that work out for you?” asked Annie.
Coach Dan laughed. “Had a liquid dinner that evening.”
Double-J closed the trunk door, then turned his attention to the team. “This is what it’s all about, guys,” he announced. “All the practices, all the drilling, none of that means anything anymore. It’s all about how well you fence in the tournament. I don’t know about anyone else,” he said, looking directly at Rex, “but I have something to prove today.”
Double-J turned and walked up the weathered wooden steps that led up to the gymnasium. Coach Dan shook his head, and the team followed him up the stairs as the lead them into their first tournament of the fencing season.