[Today’s prompt from The Daily Post is to describe a mentoring relationship]
“How do you know so much about fencing?” Coach Dan normally dismissed probling questions about his background from his students, but there was an earnestness to Butch’s doe-eyed query which moved him to stop the parry drill. The middle-aged English instructor and volunteer fencing coach at Bark Bay High School stood up from his fencing crouch, and lifted his gray metal mask off his bearded face.
“I was fortunate enough to have an excellent college coach.”
“Oh! What was his name?” Coming from anybody except Butch, it would have seemed an odd question.
“Josef. Josef Hadik.” Coach Dan grinned. “He was Hungarian, emmigrated to the states in his thirties. Got a job coaching at my college, been there ever since.”
“Oh! Did he speak English?”
Zom, zom! No leg first, zom. Zom! “Well enough.”
“Oh! He must have been a good teacher.”
No teach, no show how. Coach, I coach, is coach only. Tell you what do, what you know. You not know, I no help. “I learned a lot from him.”
“Oh! You must have really liked him.”
STUPID! Lose because you STUPID! Coach Dan swallowed, sweat glistening off the short curls of his dark hair. “Let’s just say, ol’ Josef isn’t the touchy-feely type.”
“Oh!” For once, Butch seemed able to read between the lines.
“Josef and I were — are — very different people. His way of coaching worked. For him. He was very successful, still is. And there’s no way I’d be coaching you guys now if it wasn’t for him.” When you start the fence at you school? You quit, shame me. You must start the fence! “But his way — let’s just say I couldn’t make it work for me.” Girls, no saber. Foil, is all safe. No girl saber, too fast, get hurt. Off to their right, Annie’s brown pony-tail slashed behind her head as she launched her attack on Rex. “Some of the lessons we learn from our mentors, are things they don’t intend to teach.”
“Oh!” The clatter of steel blades, Rex’s cry of mock frustration. “So — I guess the two of you don’t talk much about coaching, huh?”
Coach Dan placed his hand on top of his mask. “Some lessons are best learned privately, my friend,” and then pulled his mask over his smiling face.