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The Olympic experience April 29, 2007

Posted by grhomeboy in Athens 2004 Olympics, Testimonials.

It is an account of my experience watching my sister play softball in the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. Vanessa now teaches math and is the head softball coach at the high school we attended, Riverside Poly.

It didn’t hit me until I was sitting in a small bar in what is called the centre of Athens. As I sat and watched the Opening Ceremonies on a Greek television station, the Olympic rings emerged from the manmade lake that filled the middle of the Olympic Stadium. The rings were aflame, as were my emotions. Just miles away, my sister, Vanessa Czarnecki, was awaiting her time to march in as an Olympic athlete for the Greek softball team.

The search started long ago for Greece when my sister was still in high school. While her traveling team was representing the United States at a softball tournament in Canada someone approached her, knowing that my mother was born in Greece. At the time, the International Olympic Committee for Athens 2004 stated that Greece, the host country, needed to have a team for softball, a very new event, in order for it to qualify as an Olympic event. USA Softball began searching for more Greek-Americans like my sister to make up the roster. My sister said she was interested in playing for the Greeks, and the rest is history.

After more than 200 countries had passed through the stadium, it was finally Greece’s turn, or “Hellas” as Greece is said in the Greek language. My oldest sister Scarlett and I searched the television, hoping to spot Vanessa. There she was, smiling ear to ear, screaming with her softball teammates as one camera zoomed in on them. Vanessa’s Olympic experience had begun, and so had mine.

People I run into ask me about my time at the Olympics and I’m speechless. There are so many fascinating things on my list of events. We attended gymnastics, basketball games, volleyball matches and went sightseeing. All of it was fun, but not important. What was important was seeing my sister in her greatest moment, ending her career in the best way any athlete could.

It was the Olympics in its birthplace, Athens. It was what most regard as one of the most exciting sporting events.

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