Kristin and I are tag-teaming today—first she’ll help me with my 235 Junior Men’s Foil fencers and this afternoon, I’ll help her with her 187 Cadet Men’s Épée fencers. Both events have tableaux of 256—8 pages—and our styles of running tables are quite similar, so we have fun working together. She’s lefthanded, so she always takes the first four pages and I take the last four pages; we never bump elbows and we collect our recorded slips in a single pile between our two groups of pages.
Foil and épée DEs tend to come in waves, in contrast with saber, where the bouts come in continuously because they are so much shorter. So while one of us is recording a bout, the other quizzes the next few fencers in line to sort them into the appropriate halves of the table: “No, you need to wait in line for her behind those two gentlemen.” “Aha! You I can help, because you’re on my pages.” Junior and Cadet fencers are mostly fairly experienced, too, so we can joke around with them more than in some other events. Not many of them sign scoresheets without scores or with their opponent as the winner, either.
This SN still feels strange to me, though. The spectators—coaches and parents, but mostly coaches—are quicker to be upset and more upset than the specific circumstances would seem to warrant. Some are angry that we fail to realize that two fencers from the same club were in the same pool, even though one did not list a club on their entry or membership forms and no one from their club checked the initial seeding and notified us before close of registration. The level of fury that we do not automatically know the club affiliations of each and every one of the 3,500+ fencers in Reno for SN seems a bit over the top.
Referees are getting hit hard, too. While the assigners are making every effort to assign solid referees to team selection categories, like the Junior and Cadet events (and later this week, the Veteran events), there aren’t enough highly rated referees to go around for the Youth events, too. Too many coaches seem unable to cope with the idea that new referees need experience in order to become excellent referees, and that youth and developmental events are appropriate events in which to get that experience.
The more experienced referees are used to regular abuse, of course. It’s difficult, after all, to take a prominent coach too seriously when one day he tells you that you are the best young referee at the tournament and the next day that you are the worst referee he’s ever seen, all depending on whether his fencer won or lost that day. But it’s wearing, just the same, and this year it seems as though many coaches who should know better are laying into both new and experienced referees. It’s no wonder Sharon has such a hard time hiring for SN—what sane person would want to work so many tough 12-15 hour days standing on concrete floors and being abused by coaches and parents?
At least events are moving along fairly briskly so far this year. Kristin’s épée guys finish up shortly after 10:30, about the normal lag past the projection.