Coach Dan’s Tale 1I

“I have a feeling,” Gandy said, tugging her sweater over her shoulders, “that Josef was not particularly impressed with your description of Bark Bay.”

Coach Dan sat upright, down jacket swishing loudly in his chair. “Not particularly, no. I don’t even think I got the name of the town out of my mouth before he cut me off. Fence? he asked, and I said no, not since I blew out my knee, but he starts shaking his head” — Coach Dan began shaking his head left and right — “No, not you fence, students. And then I realized he was asking about fencing at the school I was teaching at, and I said no, Bark Bay High School didn’t have a fencing team, and he does that head shake again and he’s like You start.

“Surprised the thought hadn’t come to you before then,” said the short-haired woman. “We hear Rex talk about fencing all the time, he says you’re a great coach, really enjoy it.”

Coach Dan shrugged. “I do enjoy it. But not at the time, not when I was staring at my old coach’s face. That day was the first time I had seen most of my fencing teammates since college. When I blew out my knee — it was stupid, not a fencing injury, happened during a pickup basketball game — I didn’t rehab like I should have, lost all my power. It was my left knee,” Coach Dan said, rising from his chair and moving to the only open space in the little room, “that’s where your power comes from when you lunge.” Coach Dan crouched into en garde position, right leg pointing forward and left perpendicular to his body, held his right arm out and extended, his body following the motion of his arm and propelling forward, right foot lifting slightly and landing a foot’s length ahead, the swift action punctuated with a pained grunt.

Coach Dan pointed to his left leg, a straight diagonal from his hip to the floor. “You push off the back leg. After I ruined my knee, I couldn’t lunge without pain any more. And when I couldn’t fence without pain, I wasn’t going to fence any longer.”

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