The Coaching Relationship

A successful relationship between a fencer and a coach is at once professional and personal. Everybody involved knows that a service is being exchanged for money, but after years of working one-on-one several days a week, two people become well attuned to each other’s moods and rhythms. On top of that, it’s likely that the two share a love for the sport; it’s easy to bond over a passion in common.

The student has to trust the coach in a lot of ways: with their physical safety, with their emotional health, and with the future of their skill in the sport.

Over the last few days I have been thinking a lot about how much I appreciate my coach.  Some of the things he does that I am grateful for: Staying until ten without dinner twice a week to give me a lesson after practice. Being the first person at my side when I was injured, lending an ear when my love life was looking down, and talking me down from fencing self-destruction in sixty seconds at more than one tournament. All the times my lesson stretched from thirty minutes to forty-five.

Above all, though, I am thankful that he takes my ambition and dedication seriously no matter how far the odds are stacked against me.

I have been in a bit of a mood this week and could use some heartwarming. You can help if you use the comments to tell me something special about your coach or student!

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9 thoughts on “The Coaching Relationship”

  1. My fencing coach tutors me in physics and BIO calculus, weekly. He calms me down everytime I freak out when I can’t solve a problem, and carries me step by step throughout the problem. He’s like a second dad to me :’) I even call him papabear. I’ve been fencing for almost 2 years, and he’s been there since the beginning. Lol I’m a 5’1 fencer and he’s a 6’2 fencer… Lol he calls me pocket fencer :P sigh I love that guy :)

  2. I teach fencing to a couple of home schooled kids. I also tutor them in math. The youngest is a skinny 10yr old blond who have begun introducing me (6ft 220lb asian) as her twin brother. Hugs to both the girls.

  3. A while ago, in the morning of an SYC, a Y-10 fencer came to find out just how bad my eating habits were. She became teary-eyed and told me, “But I want you to be alive when I go to the Olympics in… (counts fingers) in 10 years?” So I made a deal with her that if she gets a medal that day, she gets to tell me what to eat or what not to eat.

    She was extra motivated, and she got a medal. There was a farmer’s market at the venue’s parking lot. So she got off the podium, seized my hand, and dragged me outside! After a thoughtful browsing, she decided on a “beginner’s vegetable” that would be suitable for me. Then one by one, vendor by vendor, she proceeded to work me up the “difficulty level” — she was familiar with my gaming habits.

    And so the club tradition was born. Every time a kid gets a medal, they get to tell me what to do for a week.

    I have since lost 60+ lbs, and at the moment (10/19/2013,) I still owe her 12 more weeks of no soda (she used up all her medal counts in one swoop back in May)… assuming she doesn’t get any more medals between now and January 2014.

  4. 18 months ago, a fencing family of 4 kids was about to welcome a new member. While talking to the mother a couple of days prior to delivery, I mentioned that, by then, she must have had a well worked out system and network of friends ready to go to action the very minute she posts/tweets/texts that the water broke.

    She replied not really, and they kinda let it unfold as it happens. Being that I live by a full-time fencing coach’s schedule, I availed myself for daytime emergency calls.

    When the time came, I received a FB message that the kids requested me as their play date while the mom and dad head off (from separate locations) to the hospital. I rushed off to their house (up in the mountain) to babysit until my relief would be available.

    While I was babysitting, I learned that a Y-10 girl was learning to play a violin. And her siblings were also learning to play violin and cello. I was inspired to pick up an instrument from the experience.

    I started taking weekly viola lessons, and started practicing like a maniac — i.e. when everyone leaves the fencing club at night, I stay there until 3, 4 or even 7 am, sometimes, to practice (no neighbors to torture.)

    Fast forward 18 months, and now I’m proficient enough to have been able to play with a San Francisco Civic Symphony for a summer workshop/concert. I’m also a principal violist, now, for a small local chamber group. Since then, we also gathered a small group of fencing kids at the club who are musically inclined. We oftentimes play together — mostly video game music, and some movie sound track.

    Coming from a workaholic background, exploring this side of life has really enhanced the quality of my life.

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