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  #1  
Old 11-11-2018, 05:41 PM
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Default High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

I used to coach at Lowell HS and technically I'm still their coach but this year they are not fielding a team.

For the past 8 or 9 years I've also helped at Marian Catholic, it is the team where my daughter was a fencer. For the past two years they have had a non-fencer as the coach of their saber team. So I've been the frequent guest coach there and this year I'm now there 2 times each week.

I've been friends with the new coach at Homewood Flossmoor HS, another nearby school, for the past few years. He has a big team and not enough supervision so I am now guest coaching there 1 time per week.

Finished our 2nd high school tournament yesterday, between the two teams we picked up 4 Saber medals. Girls Gold and 5th places. Boys Bronze and 5th places.

The girl who got gold is a Russian foreign exchange student with 7 years of experience and better footwork than most coaches I know. She has won gold medals in EVERY tournament she has been to since she came to the US late this summer. Her school head coach apparently spoke to her about me. I've arranged to have the best US Saber coach & fencer in the midwest give her private lessons. Those happen about 1 time per week. I have her 3 days each week. My goal is not to destroy her skills Seriously this girl is 16 and awesome, could easily make the Russian National team, possibly olympics.

The other kids are kids I usually get as freshman and work with through high school. Some are also excellent fencers, some are casual fencers. Many fence year around and attend the local fencing club. Many are only social members and fence as little as possible even in the season. I really like working with the kids who, even if they are not very good, try hard. Effort is everything because skills are acquired over time and with practice. But if they don't try they never get any skills, never learn anything, especially about life.

Most are a lot of fun.
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  #2  
Old 11-11-2018, 06:33 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Awesome job Bob. What a great way to spend some of your time. The kids can learn a lot from a smart dude like you. I enjoy your posts on this and especially enjoy the pics. Nicely done my friend.
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Old 11-11-2018, 06:52 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Great job Bob!
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Old 11-12-2018, 03:49 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Thanks guys.

I'm having a lot of fun this year and we are only 2 weeks into the conference tournament schedule.

Having this Russian girl/student is pretty wild. I'm really not close to being a good enough coach to teach her anything but somehow she seems to trust me. Maybe because I'm honest enough to tell her I can't offer much but, at the same time, I have her hooked up with a great club and bring the best coach down to work with her. During tournaments I talk/text with top national coaches while the event is going on so I can give her some advice. I've got college fencers coming to work with her too. She is so good that she quite literally won the gold medal on Saturday without even breaking a sweat.

And she looks to me for advice! I still don't know why.

While I've worked with multiple teams in the past, I've always had my own team. Its nice NOT to have my own team to worry about. And there are now a lot of kids who actually want to learn that come up to me now and ask for advice. With our own high school team I think kids took the coaches for granted. But as a "guest coach" the kids who really want to learn now come up to me and ask for training, ask for advice, ask for me to help them at the tournament. I'm really enjoying 'guest coach' status this year!

Oh, and I'm also working with a girl who was my fencer the past 4 years but is now in college. She is learning how to coach. She was hired by the high school to be an assistant coach but doesn't understand the difference between knowing how to fence and knowing how to coach fencing. So we work together a couple days a week to learn coaching. I text her lessons to work on for the days I am not with her. Then review the next day when I return.

The downside is that I think I'm too damn busy. 6 days a week is too much, especially with tournament days lasting 12 to 15 hours. I'm already looking forward to Thanksgiving break so I can rest.
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Old 11-12-2018, 04:40 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Bob, when we first met at that other “tractor” place 14 or 15 years ago fencing was the last thing I would ever associated with you!

I’m glad you have found your niche in your retirement!
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Old 11-12-2018, 05:30 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

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Originally Posted by jim slagle View Post
Bob, when we first met at that other “tractor” place 14 or 15 years ago fencing was the last thing I would ever associated with you!

I’m glad you have found your niche in your retirement!
Me either.

And then my daughter started (12 years ago) and that was when I got involved because the coach at the club started teaching me since I was sitting there 3 days a week at practice (Melen started fencing a couple months after she was diagnosed with diabetes) because I was driving her to lessons and since she had just been diagnosed we didn't leave her alone anywhere.

That coach taught me to be a referee first, fencer second and finally gave me coaching lessons. Another coach there gave me armory lessons and I worked & coached with him for 5+ years until his (untimely) death.

I guess its true => SHIT HAPPENS!
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Old 11-18-2018, 02:23 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Back from a fencing tournament in Wisconsin.

My girl "Dasha" (Daria) got her 5th gold medal in a row and remains undefeated. She is the only fencer in the entire high school conference (over 500 students) who never lost either a pool or a direct elimination bout since the start of the season. I've been working with kids in this conference for 12 years and have never seen a kid remain undefeated for more than 1 event.

Some of the high level directors have been asking me questions about her. I explain I didn't train her but my job is to make sure that she doesn't lose her skills. I'm also typically asked what advice I give her at the breaks in the bouts. Honestly I usually afraid to answer that because I'm not a high level coach. I'm a good coach for beginners/intermediate fencers but not for high level fencers. It was heartening to hear that they all agreed with my analysis and advice this week, so maybe I'm getting a bit better. I also got a hug from Dasha yesterday at the end of the tournament, that was a new thing.

Oh, and Dasha is learning American slang. She did not realize that saying "Bullshit" in a Catholic School is not acceptable. I got a good laugh out of that. Fortunately I am not a faculty member

We also had a bit of excitement as the final director mis-marked the score sheet and it showed she lost the last bout, earning her the silver. Bout Committee posted the results and one of my other students alerted me. The errant final results are posted below! I got that fixed quickly

I had 3 of my girls finish in the Top 16. So not a bad day.
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Old 12-02-2018, 08:31 AM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

I'm angry and frustrated.

Too much detail to type, but the coach at the high school basically promised Dasha the foreign exchange student that the school would help her get onto a top college fencing team. The coach also led the student to believe that she would get high level coaching at and near the school. At least that is the student's side of the story.

The high level coaching that was apparently 'promised' is at a club that is a 2 hour public transportation commute away that involves 1 METRA commuter train and 2 Chicago CTA bus lines to get from the south suburbs of the city to the north side of the city. So on a school night this minor child (just turned 17) is expected to spend 4 hours on public transportation to go to a fencing club for practice and lessons???

For the past month + I've been "importing" the best coach in the midwest to our local fencing club to give lessons and have a permanent lesson spot reserved for this girl so she only has to take a 30-ish minute car ride from her dorm directly to/from the club.

Head coach has forbidden kids from going to fencing clubs to get practice during the high school season ... and yesterday recanted and said it has never been her policy. But parents, other coaches (including coaches at other schools), and all the students were told that was HER policy at the school. How many witnesses do I need to refute her story before I can beat this woman with a baseball bat to knock sense into her? WTF?

The assistant coach at the school is so angry that she confronted the head coach, the one who apparently made these 'promises' to the student, at a tournament yesterday. There is the start of a team revolt with several of our top fencers seriously considering leaving the high school team and fencing for a club team. They all confided in me, so I've TEMPORARILY delayed the walk-off, while we assistant coaches try to beat sense into the head of the head coach. I'm getting parents involved too. This crap can't continue.

Dasha came to the school has basically be screwed out of her college fencing scholarship by the head coach. In a last ditch effort to try to get her on the NCAA recruiters radar my wife & I are taking her to North Carolina (head coach is unaware of this, but other officials at the school & with the foreign exchange program are aware) to a national tournament that will have NCAA coaches. It will also provide her 'national points' and get her recognition. She should have attended at least 1 other event of this type (it was held in November) but was prevented from doing so by the head coach. There is another in December but she is also being prevented from attending that one by her head coach.

I could go on with my bitching for hours and provide MANY MORE examples of how the head coach screwed up. Doing my best to fix what I can. At this point I'm actually happy my own team collapsed because I have time to help this girl and undo some of the mess her coach created. Fortunately her coach introduced her to me and got us together so when my team was dissolved there was a natural opportunity to step in at her school and I'm now with their team 3 days a week.

On the bright side we did well at the event yesterday. Dasha is still undefeated in the conference, having never lost even a single bout since the start of the season. Some of my varsity kids are pictured below watching one of their teammates in a bout.
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Old 12-02-2018, 08:59 AM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

I hope the NC trip is successful and things work out for her.

Life is tough enough without intentional roadblocks in the way.
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Old 12-02-2018, 09:31 AM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

You go for it!! If there is only one thing I could point out in life that absolutely infuriates me it's a goddamn liar. Especially someone who is using lies to use or take advantage of someone else.
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Old 12-02-2018, 03:13 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

So I could go on and tell you all about how the head coach told me on Wednesday that a consultant "has been working" with the foreign exchange student program ... with the implication that its been going on since October.

I know the consultant. So I shot him a text message. He said he had met Dasha in October. Said he did not have her contact info. Said that he did contact the foreign exchange program but they never replied. He asked me for her contact info and asked me to give her his info.

So the Head coach actually thought someone was working to help this child.

I got involved Wednesday night on HER issue and found out nothing happened. Thursday the ball started rolling. The problem is that 1/2 the national season is already over and Dasha has ZERO national points because she has been stuck in high school events and forbidden from attending national events by her head coach.

The January event in North Carolina is the LAST event she can attend to earn points (non-citizens can't compete in some of the events). College recruiters look at national points earned in big competitions.

The consultant basically told me she is probably too late and her coach may have destroyed her chances. He has a lot of influence and if anyone can help he may be the one.

Understand this girl can get into Notre Dame or Penn or other elite schools ... but she wants to get ON TO their elite fencing teams. Its HARDER to get on the Notre Dame (etc) fencing team than it is to get into the university. Her entire reason for picking her high school was because the head coach basically implied that she could get on those teams by fencing at that school.

So I am pretty much livid.

The official 'assistant' coach is livid.

The girl doesn't yet realize how dire the situation is and I'm hoping the consultant can pull a rabbit of out of his hat.

My wife and I stepped up, largely because this is a sweet kid and we have the free time to do this. Had not my high school team collapsed this year I would not have even known about all this stuff. I'm glad I could jump in, I just hope its not too late.

And again, just another photo from yesterday to lighten the dark mood!
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Old 12-02-2018, 03:41 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Oh and it should be noted that the head coach does not know that Dasha is going to try to go to the January event ... I am not telling the head coach. Dasha is not telling the head coach. The assistant coach at the school is not telling the head coach. The foreign exchange student program is not telling the coach.

Seems prudent to keep it that way since the tournament technically falls during the school break and we don't want to be told that she is forbidden from attending due to some bizarre rule that the coach made/makes up.



Details are still being worked on and this trip is NOT yet confirmed, we are about 90% sure but her mom, who lives in Moscow, has some questions that need to be answered about liability from the foreign exchange student program before everything is confirmed. There are some time lag issues with communications and we have until Dec 5th to get all the details worked out.
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Old 12-02-2018, 08:47 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Got some GREAT news at dinnertime today.

The head coach realized that she has a huge problem. Apparently the confrontation yesterday kept her awake all night. She is looking for ways and suggestions to change her policies to help the kids.

At this point I don't believe she knows how badly she damaged Dasha's chances of getting on an NCAA elite team, but she knows now that she has been hurting her kids. She simply didn't know that/realize it/understand it before yesterday. Living in ignorant bliss.

I honestly think things will change for the better
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Old 12-17-2018, 03:15 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Just some followup.
  1. The head coach is tone-deaf over this whole issue. But that said there are new rules in place that will help the more advanced fencers get scholarships. Honestly I think that, if I was in the roadway on a dark night, she would run over me with her car after all of this, but I do feel like the kids now have a path to upper level scholarships that was closed off to all of them. So good has come from a lot of grief.
  2. Tomorrow I will be introducing the lovely Mrs_Bob to Dasha over lunch. Got to love a wife who agreed to chaperone a stranger on a cross country trip without ever meeting her. This is finals week at the school, the kids get out a lunchtime so we are picking up Dasha and going out to lunch just so everyone can meet prior to getting to North Carolina.
  3. Saturday was another successful day fencing. Dasha had 1 competitive bout, a girl named Rachael. The two girls are near equals in fencing. Both get advanced lessons from my friend who is a coach in Chicago. Both have the same national rating. So far Dasha has beaten Rachael in every conference bout they have fenced, but typically by only 1 touch. Sometimes 2. Never more than 2.
  4. We fenced at the University of Chicago so I took some of the saber kids out for a short mini-tour of the campus during lunch break. Only a few blocks. But we only had a half hour for break so there was no way to cover a campus that covers far more ground. I gave them some highlights.
  5. Dasha is shopping for a new school for next year, one that is located near a fencing club, probably New York/New Jersey area? Head coach has no clue that Dasha is so unhappy. The fact that I am even able to help coach her is just a happy accident. She has said that if not for me she would have left. Honestly I'm enjoying being her coach, intimidating as is it, but for her own good she should not be here. I wrote a letter to her mother, which she will take home over break, that says I'll continue to help but there is no school here equipped to deal with her advanced needs.


Photos below: (my kids wear Gold/Black socks)
  • Dasha fencing Rachael
  • Imani (co-captain), Dasha & Gemmia ... by 3 top Varsity girls Saber fencers
  • Mateo starting a lunge ... he is only a sophomore and already awesome
  • Dasha goofed up the pool sheet paperwork so the director used her back as an easel while correcting it ... I was there to mock her!
  • Kevin, my Saber co-Captain, and leader of the boys Varsity Saber fencers. All around good kid, I've known him since he was 10. I will hate to lose him but can't stop graduation!
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Old 12-17-2018, 04:09 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Bob, let Dasha know there are a lot of folks rooting for her and hoping for a sucessful outcome from her NC trip!
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Old 12-17-2018, 04:39 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

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Bob, let Dasha know there are a lot of folks rooting for her and hoping for a sucessful outcome from her NC trip!
Thanks

When this odyssey started with Dasha I had no idea what promises were made to her by the head coach.

I knew that the school needed to get her coaching but I honestly thought they were doing things to actually help. The head coach drove Dasha to my fencing club and that is where we were initially introduced. 2 weeks later my co-coach folded the team that I was helping coach at the local high school so I went to help at my daughter's former school where Dasha was now fencing.

It was not until I got into working with Dasha did I realize how screwed up things were and how the school coach (unintentionally and ignorantly) hurt Dasha's chances for college scholarships
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Old 12-18-2018, 07:47 AM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

High school fencing is officially on winter break; my life can return to normal for a couple weeks

I got 2 voice messages from Dasha yesterday.

Head coach at the high school talked to Dasha at lunchtime yesterday. Same head coach that told Dasha that the school was able to get her suitable coaching and led Dasha to believe the school was equipped to get her a NCAA Div 1 Fencing Scholarship.

Dasha sounded a bit upset. She does not trust the head coach.

So the head coach told Dasha that she has a 'contact' at Notre Dame. The contact is the Asst. Coach at one of our conference schools who is a graduate of Notre Dame. She told Dasha that she will use this contact to get Dasha a campus meeting.
Dasha did not tell the head coach that we already have a meeting set up with the Head Coach for the Notre Dame Fencing Team. He agreed to come to watch Dasha fence at the Charlotte tournament and then formally meet with her afterwards.

Dasha didn't say that because the high school coach still does not know that Dasha is going to Charlotte. When Dasha signed up for this tournament it was not permitted for her to go to events like this during the fencing season so it was done without telling the head coach under the premise of "better to ask forgiveness than permission" for a rule violation. Technically the school changed their rules and those rule changes formally go into effect AFTER winter break. The Charlotte event happens during winter break to still technically not allowed but, given all the team upheaval and unrest I believe that the head coach would find a way to reinterpret the rules.


The high school head coach also told Dasha that she would be happy to take Dasha to visit Notre Dame.
Dasha also did not mention the fact that the assistant coach told Dasha that it would be a mistake to go with the head coach and she should try to work it out to go to her Notre Dame campus visit with my wife & me.

Please realize my 'position' on the team is totally unofficial. My name does not appear anywhere as a team coach. I'm simply a 'volunteer' so it is interesting that the official assistant coach for the team, and school faculty member, recommended that Dasha try to go on a campus visit to Notre Dame with me & my wife.


Oh, and the head coach at the high school also told Dasha that she does NOT need to compete in these big national events or earn national points to get on the radar of the Division 1 college coaches.
This statement is contrary to EVERY expert I am in contact with AND is contrary to the advice of the private consultant who the high school coach mistakenly thought was working on getting Dasha a scholarship. The consultant was told by the head coach about Dasha, was introduced to Dasha at a scrimmage, but nothing was arranged by the coach to even get the consultant any information to help Dasha. That consultant, prior to me talking to him a month later, was NOT in any contact with Dasha about working to get her a scholarship and ONLY works under pre-paid contract. So I'm not sure where/how the high school coach got her information???

I am curious how a NCAA Div 1 coach would find out about our high school fencers if they don't compete in the major tournaments. NONE, as in ZERO %, of them attend our conference events for recruiting. Many of our conference results are not reported to any 3rd party or are published outside of the conference to show results. The college coaches don't recruit at local events outside of the high school conference. Hmmm. But somehow magically Dasha would appear on their recruitment radar by avoiding the places where the college coaches actually go to do their recruiting? Interesting!

Lunch today with Dasha should be interesting.


FWIW, I believe that when this school year is completed Dasha will transfer to a different school in a different part fo the country. I believe the head coach at the high school will make me persona non grata at the school as the facts unfold about how she screwed up Dasha's college chances and I will become the scapegoat. I also firmly believe that Dasha was recruited under misleading circumstances to be a trophy horse for the head coach that she could parade around and claim as 'her Dasha' as if her team actually trained this girl, who is now nothing more than a pawn for the head coach to move around. I also believe there is a 50-50 chance that the assistant coach may resign from the team if I am 'terminated' as she is very unhappy with the head coach over all fo this stuff too.
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  #18  
Old 03-05-2019, 08:20 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Quote:
Originally Posted by Melensdad View Post
...

FWIW, I believe that when this school year is completed Dasha will transfer to a different school in a different part fo the country. I believe the head coach at the high school will make me persona non grata at the school as the facts unfold about how she screwed up Dasha's college chances and I will become the scapegoat. I also firmly believe that Dasha was recruited under misleading circumstances to be a trophy horse for the head coach that she could parade around and claim as 'her Dasha' as if her team actually trained this girl, who is now nothing more than a pawn for the head coach to move around. I also believe there is a 50-50 chance that the assistant coach may resign from the team if I am 'terminated' as she is very unhappy with the head coach over all fo this stuff too.
Just figured it would be good to update these predictions.

Dasha has applied to several high schools in the Boston area, there is a coach in Boston that we have both been working with. He is the coach for Tufts University, but also is the coach for a very good fencing club. And he is Ukrainian so he and Dasha communicate in the same language. Several private hgih schools have since denied Dasha admissions because they don't want an incoming senior but she still has more schools to hear back from and I still believe that Dasha will transfer.

I am not yet persona non grata but it is pretty clear that I am on the 'shit list' of the head coach. Oh she is nice to me. That is not an issue. But she talks to other coaches about me ... and they tell me many of the uncomplimentary things that she says about me.

I've heard from the 2 official "assistant coaches" that both of them will resign and not be back next year. One of those is a school faculty member; I was told that she will remain on faculty at the school but will resign from the fencing position. I did not hear that from her lips but I did hear it from a trusted mutual friend. The other is a graduated ex-student who is in college and she is also done with the fiasco.

The head coach honestly is clueless and believes that Dasha will return next year as the team captain for the fencing team. I can tell you that Dasha and I have discussed this and both agree that she will NOT return to the high school team but rather will compete on the national circuit. This is regardless of where she is living and what school she is attending. I've also discussed this with the foreign exchange student program and they are supportive of this decision.

I don't know if I am returning to the high school next year. If i do it will be in a reduced capacity, perhaps 1 or 2 days per week. Other high schools want me. And parents want me to start up a new team at a very large and fairly close high school (not a chance!). So I can stay busy without any effort.
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Old 03-06-2019, 12:50 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

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Originally Posted by Melensdad View Post
...

I am not yet persona non grata but it is pretty clear that I am on the 'shit list' of the head coach. Oh she is nice to me. That is not an issue. But she talks to other coaches about me ... and they tell me many of the uncomplimentary things that she says about me.

...
Oh and 1 more thing.

The 2nd best saber fencer (behind Dasha) on the high school team told me that he is quitting the team and will move to national events ...the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th best are all graduating this year!

In the same conversation the best Epee fencer on the high school team is also leaving the team to move onto national events.

Both are fed up with the head coach at the high school.


I am betting when all this information is made public that I will become persona non-grata at the school despite the fact that I did not cause any of these problems.

Below you will see why the kids are fed up with the head coach. Here is a message she sent to the students on the team via the high school's messaging system. Uh, and when she refers to "NIFC" understand that that is my fencing club, the very same club that the kids actually attend!
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Old 10-13-2019, 06:28 PM
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Default Re: High school Saber Fencing season is back in full swing

Old thread, but new season ... I'm at a different school, reunited with my former co-coach, and working with a 3rd coach that I respect!

The high school season is just starting but the 'competitive' kids are well ahead of the curve and already in regional competition mode.

Spent time this weekend at a college tournament on the campus of Northwestern University. The Remenyik. Its a regional event that qualifies fencers for the national circuit.

I did not coach But I did get some stuff done and got to see several of my fencers and a lot of friends. So it was good for me.

Dominic, a high school junior who I never coach for fencing skills, but who I do coach for college applications, won the BRONZE in the Junior Men's Saber. The "Junior" competition is the one that all the colleges look at for recruitment so this was a big win for Dom. It was an honor to be asked by his dad to stand with him for a photo. I spend a lot of time with Dom and his dad each week, via text and a bit less in person, helping him contact high level coaches and working to get him on the recruitment radar.

Mateo, one of my saber kids, who is now coached by my friend, a former international competitor/medal winner, and an A ranked/top rated fencer, and better coach, Charlie, was in the event, he did reasonably well for his event, earning some national points but coming in in the middle of the pack.

Lexi, probably my favorite fencer because I trained her from the start until she went off to college, is fencing as a variety fencer on her college team. I got to spend time with her and her coach (as well as her parents).

I have been adopted by one of the major fencing clubs in Chicago as I feed my more advanced fencers up to their club for higher grade lessons, the owner of the club has become a good friend and she brought me a kilo (2.2 pounds) of really nice espresso bean for my grinder. I think she is my bad habits pusher!

Dasha, my Russian girl saber fencer is now living in Boston but was in New York City this weekend. While she was there we made arrangements for her to travel with us to a national challenge tournament next weekend. She will probably spend some time at our home by extending her trip and extra day, that part is not worked out yet but the first part is confirmed.

Overall a great weekend. Proud of these kids, they are well on their way
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