Coach Time 7F

Coach Dan stroked the short curls of his black beard. “I’ve heard people say that Double-J marches to the beat of his own drummer.” He snorted a laugh. “I think he told his drummer to take a hike a long time ago.”

“You’re worried about him.” Jimmy’s words were more a statement than question.

“I go back and forth on that. At times I think about how he has a job already, his own apartment — he’s more independent than your average high school student. He knows how to take care of himself.”

“But his decisions — ”

“Yes, yes. It costs him, even in fencing. He’s so aggressive — ”

“Tell me about it.” Jimmy rubbed his right shoulder. “He was coming at me all evening.”

“And his opponents have faced him enough times to know that he falls in love with an attack. If it doesn’t work, he just tries to do it hard, faster. With Double-J, it’s always about what he thinks the most effective attack would be, never about figuring out what his opponent’s weaknesses are.”

“You sound frustrated.”

Coach Dan laughed. “Jimmy, of all the students I’ve worked with on the fencing team, Double-J’s the one I’ve worked with most. But for all the students I’ve been able to work with — it just isn’t working between him and I. I’ve failed him.” He turned to Jimmy. “And that really bothers me.”

“Hmmm.” Jimmy tilted his head back slowly, until it rested against the short wall behind him. “So this is why you’re asking for my help.”

“I don’t have the luxury of having a separate coach for each weapon. Fortunately my epee fencers also fence foil, but sabre — Double-J’s the only one. And it’s the only weapon he’ll touch these days.”

“I see.” Jimmy closed his eyes, let the silence of the large cafeteria surround them a moment. He then lifted his head, opened his eyes, looked at Coach Dan. “I have one question for you, Daniel.”

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