Arthur Tauber

Critical thinking and leadership development through the sport of fencing.

Tribute to Coach Tauber by Barry J Konovitch class of 1963
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THE COACH

Barry J. Konovitch 3/1/08
Delray Beach, Florida

We heard that Coach Tauber had retired somewhere in South Florida. One day he disappeared into that year round sun blessed golf course that is the reward for a life well lived. No one knew exactly where he was or how to get in touch until one day, out of the blue, he rang me up. “Barry is that you, I saw your name in the paper and realized that we are practically neighbors.”

The long lost coach had finally resurfaced. When he walked through my office door a few days later there was not the slightest doubt that here was our coach. Tall, ramrod straight, pencil mustache (albeit grey instead of black) but still the spitting image of Zorro himself, but a few decades older.

We caught up on old times and reminisced until he reminded me that he had a golf date, and then he had to repair the tires on his bike. The coach is forever on the move, always “advancing” towards an opponent.

I was so excited to reconnect with the coach that I found it hard to let him out of my sight again. He returned to celebrate the Passover Seder with us at Temple Anshei Shalom in Delray. I introduced Professor Tauber to everyone of the 200 people in the room, and told everyone who would listen that he wasmy Professor at Yeshiva University during my college days. As I have written, in “The Way It Was”: for the Yeshiva College 50th anniversary book, some teachers make a lasting impression upon us as mentors and “veg veisers.” We never forget them. The Coach taught us self discipline, personal responsibility, hard work, how to lose gracefully and how to win graciously. and the importance of savoring the moment.

The Taubermen had to practice down in the dungeon of the old building which was euphemistically called our gym. If you played basketball down in this nether world of Y. U., you had to shoot a three pointer on a flat trajectory; otherwise it would hit the ceiling.

Practice was a series of exhausting drills: advance, retreat, lunge, back, over and over until it was literally drilled into our medulla and quadriceps. Each fall the first practice resulted in great pain; I could barely get up the front steps and fall into bed.

A lesson from the Coach was a special event as he brought to bear his lightning reflexes, hawkeye and mighty right arm upon us. No one came away “untouched”. One evening he scrimmaged with three of us at the same time,undoubtedly something he had done at a movie tryout in Hollywood.

Our opponents were located in the greater New York area and my buddies, (fellow epee men only) clambered into my car, (a repainted grey 1955 Oldsmobile called appropriately the “grey ghost” courtesy of my Dad) and off we went to the outer reaches of Long Island and the nether parts of New Jersey. We always acquitted ourselves admirably; our records still stand. But the best revenge we had was on those skinny, blonde haired, rimglassed, effete, egotistical, entitled fencers from Morningside Heights at Columbia University. They never knew what hit them one year when we charged ahead so offensively that they retreated all the way off the piste and probably right to the men’s room.

The Coach even matched us against the cadets of West Point and we were honored to fence at the famed Military Academy. The Coach looked on beaming and my Dad was right beside him with a big grin on his face. Those puny Jews from Washington Heights were taking on the mighty men of the United States Army.

Graduation came and we all went our own way. Some dozen years ago a three weapon team of “old” fencers, led by Dr. Steve Rothman from LosAngeles challenged the varsity. Lo and behold they won; not bad for a bunch of
balding, “paunching “old guys.

But our Coach faded from our lives. We all thought of him from time to time, but I know we all wanted to thank him for being such an important influence in our lives. The last time we saw him was at the celebration of his 100th win as a coach.

I had the Captain’s honor of presenting him with a gold (plated) foil, and we made a few speeches and he responded. I have no recollection of what I said or the Coach said, but the picture was on the front page of the Commentator school paper and I have a copy hanging on my wall.

At long last the Coach has re-entered our lives and has reconnected with us who hold him dear. We look forward to honoring him at his 30th anniversary at his Yeshiva College on June 22.

Our “advances” may be rough, our “lunges” non-existent and our “touches” off the mark, but our hearts are still in the right place. Coach Tauber will always be our champion.

The Coach Tauber Fitness Workout
Coach Tauber: His Writings and Publications
The Official Portrait
Coach Tauber: This I Believe

 

Dr. Arthur Tauber, center, wearing his special protective sleeve, padded vest and full leather coverage sabre mask, takes a rare moment for a photograph with "Taubermen" on the ___ sabre team, Chernofsky and Knecht.
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