One of the things that I am truly proud of is the effect that I can sometimes have on people as a coach and as a person. I don’t mean this is an egotistical or gloating manner, but more that I feel humbled by it.
As a coach, I love to see people improve in my sport of fencing. To watch them grow from being a beginner in the sport and improve until they can face me in a fight and give me a good fight and sometimes even beat me. I love that. But that isn’t what makes me proud. What makes me proud is watching them grow and change as people and grow in confidence. Many of the people who come to fencing come because it is a solitary sport and what I mean by that is that it is an individual sport for the most part. The results of the match depend entirely upon you the fencer. You don’t normally have team mates and when you are competing, your coach is not allowed to communicate with you during the fight. Now when they first come, a lot of these people are shy, and quiet and are simply looking for a sport that can be social but also individual.
I have also just described myself thirteen years ago when I started fencing. I was shy and I hated team sports (I wasn’t quiet… I never shut up… still don’t). But I have seen how this sport has helped me and how coaching has helped me grow in confidence, both within myself and my own skill. So when I see someone with real potential and also that shyness and quirkiness, I take them under my wing. I put that effort in to help them grow in confidence. Let me give you a few examples.
When I joined my second university’s Fencing team, I met a guy who was socially awkward, very private, didn’t swear and very shy and quiet. But he had potential (not that he believed that) in the sport. I bonded rather well with him. When we competed together in the team, I coached him and encouraged him and tried to give him faith in his abilities. Three years later, he has just passed his Level One Coaching award in the sport. He has admitted and thanked me for building up his confidence and when he said that I genuinely felt touched.
One of my favourite quotes from Nelson Mandela is concerning sport, but can be used for every day life as well. It appeared in the film Coach Carter where I first heard it.
I do also see it in other aspects of my life. I have seen it with work colleagues and friends. Now I don’t claim it for everyone who meets and hangs around with me. I only count it when people tell me that is it because of me and it genuinely humbles me. To have that real and positive effect on others makes me so genuinely happy. For a lot of the time I am mocking, self-deprecating, a class joker and majority of the time, semi egotist. It makes life less serious and more fun… adds a tint of silliness to the world. But then when I need to be I try to be supporting, caring and as helpful as possible and if that helps inspire people and helps grow them in confidence, then I will continue to do what I do.