As Coach Sara rushed busily back to where the Academy fencers were gathered, Coach Dan pointed to an open area in the far end of the court. The team walked over, laid the canvas equipment bags down, and unbundled from their bulky fall jackets.
While sorting through the fencing jackets, they were approached by a tall, thin middle-aged man, accompanied on either side by a teenaged boy and girl.
“Daniel,” he announced, extending a hand to Coach Dan, who accepted with a hearty shake then turned to his team and said this was Dr. Schmidt, who ran the En Garde! fencing club in the city. Dr. Schmidt turned to his pupils (as he called them), Donna and Ed, then looked up and down at the Bark Bay fencers with a mix of curiosity and disdain. “Your team will be getting dressed, yes?” he asked, clearly indicating he would be disappointed if the answer was not yes.
“They’re as dressed as they’re going to be,” said Coach Dan.
Dr. Schmidt waved his right hand up, then down in the direction of Donna. “But their outfits are not regulation,” he said. Rex now noticed that both Donna and Ed were wearing white, short-legged pants, extended just below their knees and held in position by long suspenders that ran from the top of their pants, over their shoulders, then crossing in the back before clasping the back of their pants. Rex looked quickly over at the Academy fencers, saw they were garbed in similar fashion. He remembered last spring’s state tournament, when Coach Dan suddenly came to Miles, Double-J and himself with these pants, hurried them to get dressed, said it was required.
“They’re not enforcing that regulation in this tournament,” said Coach Dan.
Dr. Schmidt shook his head, tut tut. “This sport is nothing without its traditions. When we start lowering our standards, we are finished.”
“It’s an expensive sport,” replied Coach Dan.
“All the more reason not to cheapen it, bring it down to the base level where most of our society chooses to live.” Coach Schmidt then nodded politely and turned to walk away, followed by Donna and Ed.
“Now there’s someone I can relate to,” said Double-J.