Friday, May 21, 2010

Are We....Or Aren't We?

My training partner (Henri)and I never wanted to be coaches. Being late blooming vet fencers, we wanted to devote ourselves to the learning of all things fencing. Being a late blooming vet fencer, you are constantly aware that your time to compete may be ending at any you best get on with it. Yet, we also felt an obligation to give back to the club and to the people who got us started.

We attended Coaches Collage for FOIL I at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado. We did so as we thought we were losing a Foil coach for a year, and we wanted to help out at our local club.

Speaking only for myself, even after taking the FOIL I course, I think Epee is the only weapon I would feel comfortable teaching (up to a low/intermediate level). One of the most difficult things in fencing is .......evaluating yourself. Would I really be a decent Epee coach....or am I fooling myself? Would I want to be?

The Greensboro Fencers' Club is a low level/introductory/recreational club. All the coaches are unpaid volunteers. We have had some success over the years, and partly I believe it is because we encourage students to seek better coaching and instruction (whenever possible). Locally....we are pretty much it.

My training partner and I have been studying under an NCAA coach for the last four years or so in Chapel Hill. We belonged to two clubs. We have always tried to set aside a time for study...improve (hopefully) and keep that time separate from helping at our local club. Of late, we are trying to study at CFA in Charlotte, NC (time and distance are a problem there, but it is worth the effort to study under someone with an excellent program and a different approach to coaching).

I digress. Back to the topic.

At the Greensboro Fencers' Club, my partner and I do the following jobs:

1. Move curtains, chairs, bleachers and open up cabinets prior to class.
2. Get kids dressed out.
3. Wash bib liners.
4. Wash plastrons and uniforms.
5. Order equipment.
6. Repair equipment/get equipment repaired.
7. Communicate with Proehlific Park staff and fulfill their request. Examples: Rosters
8. Communicate with coaches to let them know what is going on.
9. Schmooze with parents to get them involved.
10. Work on getting club T-shirts for the kids.
11. Attend fencing clinics to improve our value to the club.
12. Participate within the Division and Divisional activities. Example: Observer clinic; observe at tournaments; help with set up of Divisional tournaments and represent the club in Divisional matters.
13. Run demos requested by Proehlific Park.
14. Attend functions when invited by Proehlific Park staff.
15. Substitute for other coaches when they are late or absent.
16. Compete.
17. Attend local tournaments with kids.
18. Meet fencers and parents when a fencing vendor is in town and help them choose equipment.
19. Educate parents on fencing.
20. Help with Sectionals.
21. Responsible for competitive class.
22. Work to rebuild a competitive class.
23. Arrange payment for guest coaches.
24. Put away equipment.
25. Keep in contact with former students and parents.
26. Prepare hand outs for new students with vocabulary and web sites.
27. Create and maintain first aid kit.
28. Create and maintain tournament equipment check out log.
29. Private lessons for kids.
30. Dress out and fence with kids preparing for tournaments.
31. Study with other coaches to bring back games and knowledge for the kids.
32. Clean out and organize closets.
33. Maintain relationships with other clubs and coaches.

On the Greensboro Fencers' Club roster, we are listed as assistant coaches. Are we? Even though we do not believe we know enough, should we think of ourselves as coaches? Does this fit in with "the reality of need outweighs the desire for perfection" in my previous post?. Does it matter one way or the other?

These aren't big questions, but I have been pondering them of late.


Meredith said...

I'm sure your question was rhetorical but I do think you're a coach! Actually, anyone who knows more than the person they are teaching is now a coach. I'd love to see the USFCA better support low-level coaches with training and materials as in other countries. And I may get myself in trouble here, but anyone doing as much work as you for a club might deserve a little something for your trouble. I tried to convince our club to set aside money to pay for people to go to clinics but I got the cold shoulder. How many scoring machines does a club need anyway? People are the real asset.

Kathz said...

"assistant coach" seems to understate what you're doing - so does "coach". The sort of things you do are the foundation of the club and there ought to be some very special title for that. Actually, since I'm not wild about titles, the important thing is probably the respect you gain from the club and what the younger members learn from you - and that isn't just about fencing.

cobalt said...

Kathz has a very good point. The title "coach" is often not descriptive of the main role needed within a club. Coaches are usually not as important to the overall scheme as some people (or they themselves) would like to think they are. (And yes, this is coming from a coach! :-P) More often than not, it's the entire environment surrounding the fencers that produces the good fencers. It's a matter of creating that training environment that is the most important IMO.

Manager seems a bit more descriptive.

Sharon said...

It's everything Sally used to do and she was so much more than just a "coach" are you and Henri. Your hard work does not go unappreciated.