“And I’ve failed you, Double-J.” Coach Dan’s tone was sincere but unapologetic. “Every member of the team has their own, unique needs. And as much as I keep saying it’s not my team, it’s your team — I’m the genius who walked into Stu’s AD office four years ago and said having a fencing team at Bark Bay High would be a fantastic idea.
“So the disappointment you’re feeling now, about not being named team captain this year — that’s on me. Like I said before, I think Rex is right, offering the job to Annie’s the right thing to do, for the team. I’m not going to apologize for the decision. That’s not why I asked you to come out here to the Pizza Place this evening.
“I brought you here to help you see that the team’s decision on their captain is the right thing — not just for Annie, and Rex, and the other team members, but for you as well. Having these conversations is part of my job as coach. And based on what I’m hearing from you over the past hour, I’d say I’ve failed miserably.”
Coach Dan leaned forward in his chair. “So here’s the deal. If you’re angry, I understand. I won’t try to convince you not to be angry. All I’m saying is, be angry at the right person. Not Annie, not Rex — not Bernie, Butch, Kassie, Dani — be angry at me. Because I’m the person responsible for how you feel at the moment.”
Coach Dan leaned back, his posture indicating that he was waiting for a response from his burly teenaged student, and the most accomplished sabrist he’d ever coached, Miles included. A moment later, a smirk crawled over Double-J’s face.