Chapter Eight: Transitions

The summer between sophomore and junior years was tough…I decided to work at a local day camp (Driftwood Day Camp, where I went for quite a few years as a kid). Swordsmen was cancelled for the summer, since the school where we usually held it was closed. So, I ended up not fencing at all for about three months. I could feel how slow I was when Swordsmen opened up again in September--kind of like playing a record at the wrong speed and not being able to fix it. By the time the season was ready to start again, I was pretty much back into prime form.

We all knew it was going to be an interesting year. Brhet and Nirav had both graduated, leaving a gaping hole not only in the varsity lineups but also in team leadership. We also knew that because of the bad turnout last year, we needed a big recruiting year to stay afloat. Jordan and I went nuts, putting signs up every fifteen feet and trying to convince just about everyone in the school to join the team. Our efforts turned out to be an exercise in futility, however, as it was an ally we didn't even know we had who turned the tide. Craig's younger brother, Mitch, had decided to join. Being friends with Craig for quite a few years, I knew Mitch. He was, at this point in time, an annoying little twerp. But, numbers are numbers, so we grinned and bore it…at least until the season started and we give him the infamous "special treatment". Meanwhile, Mitch managed to get a whole bunch of his friends to join the team. You had Adam Zacharias, the president of the freshman class and what seemed like another twerp. You had Matt Schneiderman, twerp #3. You had Jason Ullman, a quiet little kid who seemed like he might just be all right. You had Steven Lee, who seemed like the best of the bunch when he wasn't being influenced by the rest. You had Matt Durst, who I'd lived right near my entire life and barely knew--the kid never spoke. Rounding out the group was Greg Portnoy, who was valiantly trying to take the Team Mannequin award away from Durst. Raquel elected not to rejoin the team again this year, opting to be on the girl's basketball team instead.

The big question, after the first few days of practice, was who the captains of the team were going to be. Just about everyone in my grade, from Jordan and myself down to Ross and David Jeon, thought that it was going to be them. Jung, as the only senior with any real skill, was a likely candidate as well. Coach had an annoying habit of waiting a few weeks to announce the captains, and this year he took it to the extreme. The night before our first match, a month into the season, Coach told Jordan and I to stay up in the equipment room after putting all the stuff away (the preferred place for post-practice pow wows, for some reason). He said that going into the season he really didn't know who the captains were going to be, but our conduct since that time had convinced him that we were the right people for it. It was announced the next day on the bus ride to our first match--probably the worst time to do so--and some people were not happy. Jung seemed to take it pretty well, surprisingly, but a couple of people weren't too pleased. The person I felt the worst for was the one guy who knew for sure that he wouldn't be one, Craig. If he hadn't joined the team a year late, he'd definitely have been a captain, but he was just in the right place at the wrong times.

We started with a foil lineup of Jung 1st, Jordan 2nd, and myself in the third position. This was distressing, because I was beating Jordan consistently. I was still in the lineup, so it wasn't quite as annoying as the Raquel fiasco of the previous year, but I was definitely getting the feeling that Coach didn't like me. I obviously couldn't talk to Jordan about it, and I didn't trust anyone else on the team to keep their mouth shut, so aside from venting to my father I zipped my lips and played the good little captain.

Jeff Godoy and Craig had both switched over to the epee side, and David Jeon joined them in rounding out the varsity lineup. Jeff was really standing out by the middle of the season and established himself in the top spot.

We started off to a slow start, settling into 3rd place while Garden City and Great Neck became the favorites. Sometime in December, Jung had a meeting with Coach after practice…the next day it was announced that Jung would be joining myself and Jordan as the third captain. Apparently, Jung had had a falling-out with Coach the previous year--Jung revealed that he really didn't like the United States and was planning to return to Korea as soon as he was done with his schooling here. Coach is a patriot if nothing else, and that really rubbed him the wrong way. Enough, apparently, to originally deny Jung the captaincy. When Jung asked to speak to Coach, he pretty much said that if that was the only reason Coach had, it wasn't fair play at all. People on the team had been wondering why he hadn't been named a captain, and Jung had no good reason to give them. He did deserve it, anyway, and just about everyone was happy by the way things turned out after the announcement.

Jordan and I, in the meanwhile, had been adjusting to being captains in the first place. Jordan took the more authoritative role, yelling and screaming and all that jazz. I started off along the same path, but realized after a while that there was no point in both of us doing that--besides, it wasn't really my style anyway. So, after the initial power trip wore off, I settled into a "guru" role, kind of a mediator between the team and Coach (and Jordan, for that matter) whenever someone had a problem. Jordan and I knew full well that it was Good Cop/Bad Cop, and we were amazed that no one ever actually noticed we were doing it on purpose.



Up to RimRod's Fencing Autobiography
Back to Chapter Seven: Lightning
Forward to Chapter Nine: Humilations, Punishments, and Changes in Formation

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