“Whenever I see more talking than fencing, I know it’s time for a change of pace.” Coach Dan walked over and placed his right hand gently on Kassie’s left shoulder. “Kassie, I’d like you and Butch to come over with me, do some footwork drills.” He could feel the teen’s slender shoulders relax as he spoke. “Bernie, care to give me a hand with these two.”
“Yes!” Bernie replied with unnecessary exuberance.
“Great.” Coach Dan turned to Miles. “Looks like you’re eager to get in some bouts. You, Double-J, Rex, Annie — ” he pointed to each as he spoke their names — “take the center strip.” The cafeteria was not actually taped with fencing strips, but the evenly shaped and spaced rectangular islands of white tile in the black tiled sea of the floor formed a near enough approximation (at least for the sake of practice) of six fencing strips.
Annie raised her hand. “Coach, what do we do for judges?”
Coach Dan’s reply was uncharacteristically brusque. “You’re smart — figure it out. Have a director and no judges, I don’t know.”
Miles laughed again. “Still no room in the budget for electrical equipment? I’m sure the Academy would give us a good deal on their second-hand stuff.”
Coach Dan had already begun walking away, the three teens he had summoned scurrying in front of him as he called over his shoulder. “I think you already know the answer to that question, my friend.”
But Miles was not finished. “I’m just surprised you don’t put up a bigger fight, with the Big Stew.” Stewart Higgins was Bark Bay’s assistant principal, and de facto athletic director. “I mean, if you really want this team to be a success — ”
“We all do what we can, Miles.” Coach Dan’s voice trailed off as he continued walking away.