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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, Australia!
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 team.
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 property.
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 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 Amsterdam.
The girls I coached in Amsterdam!