There are two paths you can go by as a parent during a tournament: the path of the “Psycho Parent” or the path of “The Quintessential Fencing Parent.” One allows a strong bond between the trio of coach, parent, and athlete; and the other means that as a coach, I hate you. I offer the following rules of tournament parenting, based on my observations of great parents over the years:
1. Unless you are a coach, you are not the coach.
2. Do not speak of ratings, do not speak of national points and do not speak of college coaches who might be observing the bout.
3. Never get in the way of the fencing coach. S/he is paid to teach your children for a reason. A parent can work with the coach but never independently of them.
4. Unless you offer positive encouragement to your child, you should probably stick to the sidelines and read your Kindle or something.
5. Learn basic armory. Fixing weapons as a parent can sometimes be the most helpful role to play in a tournament.
6. When your child loses, s/he experiences a maelstrom of emotions. Allow ten minutes for the fencer to return to reality before approaching them.
7. Ensure that both the fencer and his/her coaches are well nourished and well hydrated. When I say well hydrated, I mean buy the coach beers after the tournament.
8. Video-tape bouts if possible. It will go a long way for the kids when they’re trying to figure out how to improve.