Ya! (That's "hello" in Greek.)
Someone who I never had the chance to meet is giving me the chance of a lifetime.
My great-grandfather Anastasious Thimis died the day after my mother got married. He was said to have been an amazing man. When he was 16, he emigrated to the United States from Lutraki, Greece, with little or nothing but his Greek heritage. Because of that heritage, I am eligible to represent Greece in the Summer Olympic Games of 2004.
When Athens won its bid for the Games a few years ago, Greece got an automatic berth to participate in the Olympic softball matches. There was one huge problem; Greece did not have a softball team and knew little about the sport. Quickly, with the help of the International Softball Federation, Greece began to put together a team of American girls with Greek heritage. The federation appointed Linda Wells, the head coach at Arizona State, to coach the Greek Olympic softball team. Thanks to great-grandfather Anastasious, I was eligible to try out against hundreds of other girls. Many individual try-outs, along with grueling camps, went into picking the final 18 girls, 15 to play in the Games and three alternates.
You would think that making the team would be the hardest part of this whole deal; however, to play for the team you must be a Greek citizen, and getting that paperwork was definitely the toughest part. I couldn't have done it without my mother. At work she would surf the Net like a detective looking for connections and papers, any clues that could make my background match. I'm not sure how many hours she spent total, but I am surely grateful for it, because all her hard work paid off. My citizenship was approved and I am now a Greek citizen.
Waiting for the day when the International Softball Federation was to announce the final 15 players who would participate in the Olympic Games was agonizing. As the day came and I went on the website to see if I had made the team, I could feel my heart in my throat. I thought I was going to choke. The Internet page was taking forever to load, and I actually got sweaty. When the page finally came up, my name was in the top 15. I had been waiting for this list for the last year. It was finally a sure thing! I heaved a sigh of relief and of pure happiness. I'm excited not only for myself, but also for all the family and friends who have supported me throughout my softball career. I also feel very proud and privileged to represent Greece. I will be walking into the opening ceremonies holding my Greek flag ready to represent my country in the biggest sporting event ever thanks to so many people and their efforts.
Now that I know for sure I will be in the Games, I would like to share more about the girl in the cleats. If you're going to read this journal, you should know the crazy girl I am. I am 20 years old. Yes, not 21 but I am getting there. I'm a junior, and I play left field for Cal; our team finished second in the college world series the past two years.
When I'm not playing softball, which probably takes up 75 percent of my life, you can find me napping, painting, or listening to music in the 11-bedroom Berkeley house that I live in with a bunch of my friends. I know what you're thinking, and no, this most defiantly is not a sorority. That's not my thing. However, we do have our fun dancing in my room in strange outfits and just being downright stupid. I don't watch much TV, because I don't have cable; however, I am addicted to watching DVDs of my favorite HBO show, "Sex and the City." Maybe I love the show so much because of all the shoes it features. I'm a shoe addict. OK, I said it. I probably have more than 50 pairs, not including flip flops. I love shoes. But for this summer, the main shoe I will be wearing is a cleat. You know what? I think I'm ok with that!
Our team begins its European tour on July 13 and we arrive in Athens on August 1. On August 13, the Olympics begin. I promise to send more gossip than a daytime soap opera about my trip across Europe and the stay in the Olympic Village, so check back soon!