“More Than Just a Towel” by Angela Sekely

Written by: Angela Sekely

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***Angela Sekely is a tennis player from Mississauga who is currently playing for the University of North Carolina Wilmington. Ranked #5 U16 in Ontario, she finished 9th at Canadian Outdoor Nationals. Among her other titles are: Winner 2009 U18 National Qualifying Championships, Winner 2008 U16 Provincial Championships, Semifinalist 2009 Outdoor National Selections, Semifinalist 2009 Yale ITA doubles and Quaterfinalist in singles, and others. When she is not on the court, Angela plays badminton (Winner 2008 Regional Badminton Championships). She is also participant of the Canadian Royal Conservatory for Piano.***

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Coach Garrity answers the door to her hotel room with a huge smile on her face.  The lights are low but the room is bright from my coach glowing with positive energy.  The nine of us shuffle through the dark brown door which has tiny gold numbers that read 508.  The day before a match, Coach bursts with excitement.  Her eyes held wide open glisten in the light.  Coach’s presence alone sets a warm atmosphere which we all give into the moment we walk into the room.  Her constant good vibes infect my body more with every second I settle into the small but comfortable room.  Energy spreads between people.  If someone carries positive energy, the people in his or her presence are more likely to attain the wave of energy.  This makes it impossible to be in a negative mood during Coach’s pre-game speeches.

As the nine of us create a deformed circle around her, she eagerly watches us pile onto the green couches and shift our attention towards her.  Coach radiates with energy.  Her smile never quivers as we relax into our seats. She gets up and places a blue folded towel on each of our laps.  Her loud laugh pounds the quiet room as each of us stare back at her with confused expressions.  I slowly unfold the little towel and notice a jumble of white on the back side.  Immediately my eyes focus in on the letters ‘WAAU’ which coach had embroidered.  My team and I look up at each other questioningly.  I turn to the seniors on the team in the hope that maybe they will understand Coach’s new project better than I will, but their eyebrows remain raised.  They are just as bewildered as I am.  Looking at Coach for an answer, her enormous smile keeps her busy as she spreads the sunshine.  She loves to make us wonder. At first I did not realize how important these towels would become.

To outsiders looking at these small hand towels, they only see a type of absorbent fabric with a bunch of random, meaningless letters on one side.  But my team and I see beneath the front cover. “We are a unit,” Coach explains. “Anything that comes in our way, we can take down.  Nothing can stop us.  We have the talent, the energy and most of all we have the heart.  This separates us from any other team.  We just need to believe…” As Coach continues her speech, I look around and notice the combination of fear and excitement in this cluster of faces.  Everyone looks elevated and ready to play as they focus on the meaning behind Coach’s lecture, not just the words coming out of her mouth.

Coach is very persuasive.  After listening to one of her talks, denying her beliefs and values remains difficult.   Everything she says has a purpose and every purpose she has leads to making our team more successful.  Not only does she teach us to play and fight on the court, but she also stresses the importance of our unity as a team off of the court.  These aspects make us a strong force.
“These towels do more than wipe the sweat off of our faces.  They give us a sense of confidence and assurance which connects us even more than before.” She says as we walk back to the dark brown door with gold letters. “Let’s go Hawks!” She adds as I feel for around for my compact room key in my soft cotton pocket.  I can hear Coach’s excited voice from down the hall. The refreshing scent of devotion is in the air. I can picture our opponent’s terrified faces when we walk through the door to the courts.  I can taste tomorrow’s victory.

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