WASHINGTON, March 5, 2013 — As a lover of sports, I have played football, basketball and fútbol. I wrestled, I boxed (my brain works; I can still read and count pretty good), and of course, I still actively fence.
Each sport, though a potpourri of individuals and/or a team has provided me with a unique perspective on the virtues of being a good teammate. Whether it is football’s high intensity “menergy,” basketball and fútbol’s “us first, me second” ideals, wrestling and boxing’s discipline and vigorous practices, or fencing’s inherent camaraderie, each sport has molded my ideas on how to conduct oneself in a team atmosphere.
Today, my ideas for what makes a good fencing teammate, based on the best (and worst) elements of what I’ve seen in my sporting career. I have divided these ideas into “What Makes a Good Teammate During a Tournament,” and “What Makes a Good Teammate During Practice.” I look forward to hearing your ideas and comments in the Comment section below.
During A Tournament
1. A good teammate will stay from the beginning of the tournament until his/her final teammate is eliminated. S/he will cheer loudly, encouragingly, and supportively even if that teammate has defeated you in a tournament.
2. A good teammate will offer an embrace in addition to a handshake should s/he win or lose. It is the ultimate way of saying “It’s all good, bro.” Win respectfully, lose gracefully, and play fair.
3. A good teammate will never coach against his/her fellow club mate. This applies to coaches within a club as well.
4. A good teammate will strip coach his/her fellow club members against opposing teams if s/he possesses the knowledge to provide exceptional and useful strip coaching.
5. A good teammate will be willing and eager to help fix weapons in the inevitable event one fails.
6. In a team event, a good teammate will be waiting at the end of the strip to provide his/her teammate a high-five in both devastating defeat and overwhelming victory.
1. For God’s sake, a good teammate will wash his/her uniform regularly because no one likes an unhygienic stinkball of a club mate.
2. A good teammate will provide constructive feedback during bouting, but only if asked for by the opposing fencer. Trust me when I say fencers hate unsolicited advice.
3. A good teammate will channel his/her inner Ray Lewis to motivate and provide positive encouragement where positive encouragement is seen fit.
4. A good teammate will push his/her fellow teammates to work harder, get an extra bout in, and up the intensity during footwork.
5. A good teammate will boorishly scream at the token teenage couple/s in the club who are more in love with each other than the fencing they’re supposed to show up for.
6. Good teammates will provide their undivided attention and respect to the veteran fencers in the club. They provide decades of sound advice, they love fencing more than anyone, and they’re the best source of mentoring you can find.
7. A good teammate will listen to the coach and put his/her trust in the coach. Because coaches usually have European accents, it means they probably know what they’re talking about.
Damien is a competitive fencer and volunteer assistant coach at DC Fencers Club in Silver Spring, Md. Damien was the coach of a London 2012 Olympic Athlete in Modern Pentathlon. He is an A-rated epeeist and was a member of the 2012 North American Cup Gold Medal Men’s Epee Team.
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