Chapter Nine: Humiliations, Punishments, and Changes in Formation

Another quirky thing that happened around this time was that people in the high school started taking me a little more seriously after they'd seen me wielding large swords like it was second nature. We've never exactly attracted a crowd, but we've had twenty or thirty kids at a time stop by who hear the yelling and screaming and want to see what this "fencing" thing is all about anyway. I almost always completely tune out the crowd during matches--you learn to do that real quickly--but I remember a few times hearing, "Wait, Serotkin? Ian Serotkin? He's captain of a sports team?" God help my poor opponent whenever I heard that, because I'd go right after him and land the hardest and most complicated flick I could muster just to prove to that schmuck in the audience that I could.

I also had to deal with people coming up to me with broom handles, sticks, mop]s and just about every long pointy thing they could find and going, "Heh heh, Ian, you wanna fence? Heh heh." We kind of conduct ourselves like pro wrestlers…they don't mess with non-wrestlers for no reason, but if someone's being a jerk and saying that it's all fake, they won't hesitate to put them in the most painful move they know and make them cry for mommy. Well, if someone poked me with a stick and there happened to be another one handy, usually the other guy was disarmed in five seconds flat and running away in ten…and if I had anything to say about it, I'd engineer the "bout" into a public area just for added humiliation. That always felt really, really good, especially if the other guy was a bully who thought I wasn't going to actually fight back.

Pushups were a standard punishment for misbehaving or doing something wrong during practice, but there were one or two instances where this got a little out of control. Firstly, Coach was late to practice one day (which happened quite a lot), so a bunch of us got a basketball out and started shooting around in the auxiliary gym where we practiced. Coach walked in and went ballistic, since the athletic department goes a little bonkers whenever anyone does anything unsupervised using school facilities. He told the team to come with him to get the electrical equipment…and for Jung, Jordan and I to do pushups until they he got back. Now, it takes a solid ten minutes to bring all the equipment down. That's a lot of pushups. After about two hundred, we just kind of collapsed and laid belly up on the gym floor. Coach came back in after a while and started yelling at us to do more for stopping, at which point I said, "If we could do more, don't you think we would have been doing them to begin with?" That elicited Coach's "Drats!" looks, and he wandered off to take care of something else.

The second incident in question was during the Hewlett away match. It's rare to discipline your players during a match, but occasionally the moment called for it…we got lost going there, of course, and no one was particularly having a great match--especially Jordan. He had just lost to Peter Greco in a very close bout, and he went back to the bench to sulk for a while (Jordan wasn't the most graceful loser in the galaxy). Craig had to pass a screwdriver to someone down the line, so he started asking Jordan to pass it down. Jordan didn't respond, so Craig tapped him on the knee with the screwdriver a few times. At this point, Jordan turned around and pushed Craig right off his chair, right in the middle of a match. Coach didn't take this too well, and they were out in the hallway doing pushups for a rather long time. The Hewlett team thought Jordan was a little psycho after that.

Jung started coming to Swordsmen mid-season, and between that and practice I'd be sparring with him almost every day. Back in freshman year, we'd been dead even skillwise for the first half of the season, until he started getting really good later in the year. I was determined to bridge the gap this year, and under his guidance I started learning how to flick. A flick is an advanced attack where, by snapping the wrist at exactly the right moment, the foil bends over the person's shoulders and hits them squarely on the back. It's extremely difficult to land consistently, and it can take years just to be able to land it 70% of the time. Well, I took it at my given right to take a test dummy under my wing in retribution for what Brhet did to me, and Jason Ullman became Human Test Dummy (Junior Edition) for the remainder of the year. I started beating Jung about half the time in practice, but only because we knew each other so well that our actual skill didn't enter into it. It did make us both better fencers, though, which was the point of the exercise.

It also became apparent around this time that Jordan wasn't having the kind of success in the number two spot that Coach thought he would, so he switched us after four matches and had him at third for the rest of the season. Not a word of apology to me, naturally, but I guess some things are beyond hope.

Up to RimRod's Fencing Autobiography
Back to Chapter Eight: Transitions
Forward to Chapter Ten: Winter Wonderland

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