Postcards from Bulgaria: Columbus State tennis player, Hardaway High grad gains revenge, finds friends at Deaflympics

August 1, 2013 

Editor's note: Columbus State University tennis player Laura Chapman, a 2010 Hardaway High School graduate, is on Team USA in the 2013 Deaflympics in Sofia, Bulgaria. She is deaf in her right ear and has 50 percent hearing in her left ear, which is increased to 85 percent with a hearing aid. This is the third of her periodic reports from her trip.

SOFIA, Bulgaria --

Monday

I lost (in singles) against Chinese Taipei today, 6-3, 6-3. I was really surprised when I saw some really tall people walk up to the courts, and then I realized it was my sweet basketball players. How awesome it was to see them there supporting. After I lost my match, I was really upset and frustrated with myself about letting my country and team down. But I was quickly reminded right after the match how loved I am and how appreciative I am of the deaf culture.

Nathan, a journalist for the USA Team came, up to me and wanted to ask me questions about my match. I was instantly in a better mood. Practicing my signs and laughing with him took my mind off the negative and focused on building more relationships.

I sometimes get lost in my own world, thinking about my tennis game and winning. I forget that the most important thing about being here is to have fun and enjoy this experience. Nathan was a reminder from God to not focus on the fact that I lost but to focus on the bigger picture, to represent my country in all ways, on and off the court.

Tuesday

"Revenge Day!" as (doubles partner) Emily and I called it. We played against Spain this afternoon. One of the girls on the team was the girl that beat Emily in singles. She lost in three sets. Tough loss that I knew Emily should have won.

So I told her before we started the match, "This is for you, we are going to beat this team for you, she might have beaten you in singles, but she is NOT beating you twice!"

So, of course we destroyed them (6-1, 6-2). Haha.

Also, cool fact for the day: We went to a restaurant called "Happy" for dinner. I learned that this restaurant is a chain that was originated in Bulgaria. Great Bulgarian food!

Wednesday

Doubles with Emily and mix doubles with Brad.

Emily and I are coming up with themes for each day. Today was called the "The Day of the Germans." All three of our doubles teams played against German teams.

After matches were over for the day (Laura andn Emily won 6-3, 6-1), me and some "brothers and sisters" from my USA family went to support track and field and walk around the downtown streets of Sofia. Busy city and very alive!

I have been so occupied with tennis the last few days, that it was extremely enjoyable walking and talking with my deaf friends in signs and laughing about inside jokes we have all made the past week and a half.

Thursday

I had the day off from tennis. Just supported Emily and Daniel in their semifinals mix doubles match, which they played "out of their mind" good! They were so smooth with their decisions during the point and so calm. I couldn't be happier for them. They took down the No. 1 seed like a piece of chocolate cake!!

Today, I observed another awesome thing about the deaf culture here. These people are affectionate and open!! This makes me SO happy because, if any of you reading this article know me, you know that I am extremely affectionate and loving. Haha.

I had three different athletes come up to me randomly, wanting to talk and hang out. It's the coolest thing to me because I love meeting athletes from different countries. I admire their boldness to walk up to someone, knowing they are going to have a hard time understanding (from either a language barrier or deafness), and want to develop a friendship despite so many different cultural and physical disabilities.

Tomorrow is the big day! Going for the GOLD with Emily in the women's doubles final and Revenge Day #2. This time it's for me. Chinese Taipei, we are coming for you!!LEARN MORETo read the two installments of Laura Chapman's postcards from Bulgaria, plus the Ledger-Enquirer's June 30 Sunday Living feature that tells her background story, click on this article for the link at www.ledger-enquirer.com.

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