Chapter Thirteen: Hopping Mad and Mad Hopping

Garden City had gotten very good over the past few years under the direction of Coach Dennis Daly, the team being led by Mike Kreidman and company. Stravino and Livanos rounded out the foil squad, and the epee team of Jon Peterson, Ryan Wangner and Lauren Wangner was almost unstoppable. If it had just been that, we probably would have gotten along just famously with them. If only it were that simple. Coach Daly was, as Jordan so often put it, "a big prick." We both knew Coach Daly outside of that capacity--he was at Swordsmen frequently, and he'd also show up to the Brentwood competitions to cheer his fencers on--he was very, very loyal to his team. He was reputably a very good coach--Mike Kreidman has told me that the entire team loves him--but as soon as any season competition started, he became a complete asshole. He'd protest other coaches giving instructions to their fencers during play, and then he'd turn around and do the same things himself. He'd bench players who weren't fencing as well as he liked. He'd insist on full weapon and equipment checks before matches, knowing that his teams' was always working and trying to squeeze a few yellow and red cards out of his opponent for faulty equipment. He wouldn't let his team even speak to their opponents before matches--even coming back as an alumni, I'd say hi to the players I knew on their team during warm-ups and they'd get the fear of death in their eyes, afraid to even return the greeting. We mainly did this just to aggravate Daly, and it sure worked. The frustrating thing was that he really was a nice guy--but once he got into that environment, he was a completely different person. The situation escalated, as Jericho started to hate Garden City more and more and Garden City gladly returned the favor. The situation escalated even further the year after I left, as our Coach filed a protest with the Garden City athletic supervisor for one of the GC fencers, Jon Peterson, hitting our fencers repeatedly with his bell guard--whether he actually did it on purpose will never be known, but it sure looked like he was doing it intentionally to hurt our players. Daly took the protest as a personal insult, and the vendetta turned into a full-scale war. At the next home match against them, Jordan and I were sitting at the scoring table. Helping out with the scoring and timekeeping. Daly actually protested to the director that we'd be partial and asked to have us removed. I always found this hilarious, since active fencers from Jericho and GC replaced us. How in the world could we be more partial than them?

But, back to the present. We rallied early against Garden City in our first match against them, but mismatches during the later bouts pulled them even, 9-9…we lost on indicators. It let a lot of the wind out of our sails, and we lost to Great Neck soon afterwards.

The Garden City match was also notable for The Hopping Incident. The previous year, I'd been fencing Mike Kreidman when Coach called a timeout (one of the two he called for me in two years on varsity, more on the other one later). Mike had a habit of jumping up and down during points to make a rhythm, something that lots of fencers did. Coach thought that the hopping might be distracting me, so he wanted me to do something to break the dastardly hypnotic trance up, like advancing or retreating. He promptly walked back to the bench and sat down, leaving me standing there stupidly, wondering if he was actually being serious. Mike asked me later what the timeout had been about (he always loved the stupid tricks coaches tried to beat him with), and we had a good chuckle over that one.

So now, one year later, the Jericho gym is filled with my parents, Mike's parents, the Wangners' parents--the whole crowd. And they all know what happened last year. I saw Mike's mother making a "T" with her hands to try and heckle me a little before the match, but I was taking it all in stride. I had the best possible revenge on my mind. The director calls "Fence", and Mike immediately starts hopping. You can see through the fencing masks at close ranges, and he was grinning like an idiot. So what do I do? I start hopping too. Hop hop hop hop hop, hop hop hop hop hop. Neither one of us are moving, we're just hopping in place. Hop hop hop. Ten seconds go by. Hop hop hop. Twenty. Hop hop hop. Thirty seconds. Hop hop. The entire Peanut Gallery of Parents is hysterically laughing by this point (I have this on videotape), and we're just madly hopping along while trying not to fall over in quakes of laughter. Finally, he accidentally drifted one hop to close to me, and BAM! I nailed him with a quick attack. Right when we were in close, so the director couldn't possibly hear, I said, "I have confoozled you with my hopping!" He didn't hop for the rest of the match.

Up to RimRod's Fencing Autobiography
Back to Chapter Twelve: Command and Control
Forward to Chapter Fourteen: Home Stretch

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