Dear Fencing Coach,
This letter is to all fencing coaches out there, and really all people that coach in the non-professional realm, who get paid little to do a lot and who create lasting memories for athletes without ever realizing it.
Thank you for being a coach. Much like teaching school, coaching can be a tough job that isn’t always appreciated as much as it should be. Coaching is a selfless act because unless you’re in the pros, you’re probably putting way more time into coaching than you are compensated for, and when you add in the heart and energy that you bring to the mix, you could truly never be paid enough.
Thank you for your enthusiasm. Your love of fencing has helped teach me the same. You have modeled hard work, dedication, and commitment and I have benefited. Every time you stay later than when practice was supposed to end, every time you take a moment to pull me aside and provide encouragement, every time you spend your personal time planning practices or thinking of drills, you are modeling these things for me.
Thank you for your talent. As a fencing coach, you are skilled at the sport you teach. You have chosen to use that talent to teach my peers and me. You could have chosen other paths that required less energy, that helped you make more money with your time, that required less sweat and tears, but you chose to coach me. I will remember you long into my adulthood and maybe someday I will be inspired to coach as well. Whether it be fencing or some other talent, you have shown me what it means to a child to have a good coach and I might just want to do the same when I’m grown.
Thank you for caring about me. Coaches have more than one student, but the good ones, like you, take the time to know each one of us. To learn how we learn best, to figure out how to get through to us with a new skill or technique. We are not all the same, and you are just one person, yet you work to make all of us better athletes to the best of your ability. It’s easy for us to forget and only focus on our fencing career or our skills, but you are out there working for all of us.
Thank you for that one time you talked to me about a personal issue. Coaches often get pulled into things that go outside of the sport they coach. I know you have to be careful about keeping boundaries, but that one time I had a bad day and was upset with my parents, you took the time to talk with me and calm me down. You didn’t have to do that, and I know that. You put yourself out there in a way that made you vulnerable because you had my best interest in mind.
Thank you for your confidence in me. When you tell me you know I can do better and that you believe in me, it matters. My parents can tell me that, but they don’t know the sport. I value your opinion in a way that I couldn’t possibly value anyone else’s. You are my coach. You know fencing and you know me. When you applaud me, I beam inside, whether I show it or not.
Thank you for being a good role model. As kids, we have many role models in life. Our parents, our schoolteachers, our friends and siblings. You are high on the list, higher than you probably realize. I respect you and look up to you because of your knowledge and talent. When you model good behavior for me, I watch, listen, and observe. You are part of the person I am today and I am grateful.
For all this and more, I thank you. I know I probably don’t say it enough, but I am truly grateful.
A Grateful Fencer
The author requested to stay anonymous.