Annie, Bernie and Rex pulled out their jackets, Butch and Kassandra helping with the zippers in the back. Double-J departed with a wave of his hand and a perfunctory good luck as Coach Dan met with the tournament organizer to go over the schedule.
Rex heard his name called from the service entrance, and turned to see Mike Paris, the top epee fencer from Midland High, walk in with the rest of his team.
“You doing foil too?” asked Mike as he walked over. Rex nodded. “Excellent. You — ” he said, pointing to Annie ” — are going to be trouble. And I see that Bark Bay has found three new fencers?”
“Two, actually,” replied Rex, then pointed to Bernie and explained he had competed last year.
“Don’t recognize you,” replied Mike. “Perhaps you’ll do something today that will make me regret that oversight?” Bernie smiled, shrugged his shoulders as he looked down.
“Did I hear we have new fencers today?” came an adult voice from behind Mike. “I’m Coach Pat,” continued the voice as he stepped forward, arm extended in Bernie’s direction. After greeting Kassandra and Butch as well, he said, “Now there’s going to be a lot going on today, and I know you’re going to feel overwhelmed. You’re probably not going to win a lot of bouts today, but if you observe, if you listen, you’ll learn a lot. If you have any questions and Coach Dan isn’t around, just ask me, or anybody on my team. Once a bout begins it’s everyone for themselves, but at any other time, we’re all in this together. We need fencers, there’s so few of us. Remember, the only dumb question is the one that’s not asked.”
Rex had begun thinking of ways to gracefully exit Coach Pat’s lecture when Coach Dan mercifully arrived with the day’s schedule.