Coaching a U.S. tennis team in
Fiji and Australia
For two years in a row, I coached a U.S.
tennis team that trained in Fiji and competed
against a national Australian team in Brisbane.
When I arrived in Fiji, I took this picture of a
Fijian village as we were driven to our resort.
At first, I thought this village was a mock
representation of villages from long ago. But,
my physio, Shashi, explained that, no, this was
the real thing!
This is Shashi. She told me an interesting story. You see, she had a lot
on her mind! Her Hindu family arranged a marriage for her to a man living
in Canada. She didn't like this man, yet she felt obligated to marry him
because her family sacrificed tremendously to put her through college. As
a result, she wanted to be an obedient child. She confessed to me that
she really liked his cousin who she met at a wedding reception. She was
torn between honoring her family and honoring her passion for the cousin
of her betrothed. So, she agreed to marry the man that she didn't like.
I could tell she was in much angish when she told me of her dilemma. I
felt so sad for her. But, she said, "No, that's not all! My betrothed died
of a heart attack!" She looked at me with such sad, dark brown eyes. I
looked back at her, held up the palm of my hand to give her a high-five
and said, "Mission accomplished". We've been friends ever since.
While training in Fiji, the student athletes took
a break each day and went on excursions to see
interesting sites in Fiji. One of the most
interesting trips was a hike to the interior of
the island to some caves where human sacrifice
occured. Along the way, I was separated from
the athletes in my charge. A native found me in
the jungle. He's pictured on the back of this
convex bamboo raft. His name is Aminisitai
Niukula and the inspiration to my trilogy, Native
Hope, that is currently being written! You can
view the book trailer on YouTube:
We competed in Brisbane, Australia.
Here's a picture of the other coaches
with whom I worked. We won !!!!! This
picture was taken in the Olympic
stadium in Sydney, Australia.
University of Queensland tennis courts, where the
tournament was held in Brisbane, Australia.
High School Student Athletes
from all over the U. S. at Olympic Stadium in Sydney,
Coaching a U.S. tennis team in
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
That year we played on clay courts at a posh
tennis club. Some of the Dutch members there
knew one person from Cincinnati: Pete Rose.
Well, they also mentioned Marge Schott. Wow,
news travels far!
Teams from all over the world competed at the
World Youth Friendship Games in Amsterdam.
This is a picture of our U. S. team and Holland's
During our downtime we did a lot of
sightseeing where we toured the Ann
Frank House, saw the world's first Smart
car - it looked like half a car to us; how
funny- , and so many canals where
literally all homes had waterfront
And, here is our guide in Amsterdam, Carola. Carola and I got along quite
well. In fact, I became somewhat of a surrogate mother to her. She was
estranged from her mother, but desperately needed a mother. One night, all
the teams had a dance mixer so the athletes could get to know one another.
One of my athletes ran up to me and told me Carola was a really good
dancer. My athlete, one of the quite younger ones, said, " She's really good
at dancing on a pole!". Hmmmm.
Amsterdam is noted to be a progressive society. In town in the evening, you
could smell the marijuana smoke wafting out the open doors of pot
cafes.....totally legal. Three of my female coaches urged me to go to the
famous 'red light district' on our only night free from the athletes. Since I
can confidently classify my character as conservative (but fiesty and a risk
taker), I had to ponder that invitation for a while. After much thought, I
decided that a visit there would broaden my knowledge base of international
cultures. So, we took a taxi to the 'red light district' and found that, yes,
there are red lights everywhere in windows with girls standing there; some are
dancing....you get the idea. To say the least, I was traumatized. I held onto
the cross I wore on my neck as my fellow female coaches stopped every so
often to ask me if I was O.K. I felt like I couldn't breathe. The evil in that
place was just too much for me.
I told Carola about what I saw and she said, "That's O.K.! Those women are
from Russia and the Philappines and really need the job." Hmmmmmmm. When
I got home to the U. S., I prayed a rosary for every prostitute I saw, which
was a LOT of rosaries to pray. About 3 months later, I read in the
newspaper that the red light district was disbanding! It said that Amsterdam
wanted to clean up its act and that activities in the red light district were
very close to sex trafficking. The article also noted that the business was
packing up, but they were moving to Hamburg, Germany.
I can't help but think that all those rosaries crushed the sex trade in
The girls I coached in Amsterdam!