Not Knowing Exactly How Doesn't Stop Tennis Team From Supporting Teammate - freetxp

Not Knowing Exactly How Doesn’t Stop Tennis Team From Supporting Teammate

They still live in the only house Nastia has ever known, the one the family moved into when she was 1-year old. It’s a house which would look different, as her parents have removed any glass from any furniture, just in case, to protect themselves and the family pets. They have easy access to the basement, and the first floor is basically without windows, so it feels somewhat safe, too.

When night falls, it is a scary time for them, and Nastia wants her family to sleep as much as they can. So she remains awake to comb all the news agencies she’s following, so she can alert them to any new developments.

“It’s hard. I just barely sleep, because I need to make sure my parents and my friends don’t get bombed when they’re sleeping,” she said. “I read them news. I spend like 18 hours a day on the phone, so I can check and make sure everything is fine and the troops and soldiers are not moving closer to my home town, and I’m checking on my friends from other cities. The girls have been helping me a lot, because they realize I can’t sleep in my apartment. When I’m alone, I cannot get distracted and I keep watching more news, keep looking at more pictures, more videos, all these horrible things happening, and I stop sleeping when I’m home.”

Tennis practice can be a momentary reprieve, but not much. It allows her a few moments of laughter at times, but her thoughts always return home. Afternoon practices are better, because that’s when her family is awake, but when the Rams practice at 9 pm a couple nights a week, Tran allows leeway under the circumstances.

Nastia will go check her phone, every 10 minutes, just in case there may be news to pass along. Odessa is a key city, a major port on the Black Sea, and there has been fighting nearby in Mykolaiv and Kherson. If those cities fall, Nastia said, the people in Odessa believe they’ll be next.

“It’s been difficult for Nastia, and her teammates and us as coaches,” Tran said. “Our first instinct was to support her the best we can. Every single day we’re checking in with her, giving her all the resources we can. I think she feels very supported, but it’s knowing this is nothing we could imagine or understand how she feels. It’s just trying to be empathetic in that way.

“She’s an amazing person, and I think that’s why it’s so easy to be there for her. I think we all feel lucky we’ve been able to be on the same team with her and be there for her in this moment nobody could prepare for. She’s been incredibly strong, her response at practice and training. She’s been able to stay strong in front of all of us, and I admire that, because I don’t know if I could be that strong in her position. It’s hard on both sides. You don’t want to ask too much, but you want to make sure she’s OK.”

The support she’s received has not only come from those closest to her, but even some people she doesn’t know. Tran receives messages from fans and community members and passes them along. The first came from Director of Athletics, Joe Parker, stressing any and all help the administration could provide was available to Nastia. Her professors understand what’s going on, she said, so they don’t hassle her if she is checking her phone in class.

What is going on back home has made it nearly impossible for her to focus on schoolwork, but she’s trying. Part of it is the lack of sleep and the constant searching for news on her phone or laptop. She is thousands of miles away and she feels completely helpless, so she tries to do for her family what she can.

She has to look at her phone, but she’s also afraid turn it on. She has no idea what she’ll see next. She’s seen before-and-after pictures of places she knows so well, and they are hard to recognize. She feels for a friend of hers who can now differentiate between gun fire, anti-aircraft fire and bombing. She checks in on others who are volunteering to protect their country and also supply what aid they can to those in need.

She just has to check. It also makes her sad to know that also on her phone is the plane ticket and travel itinerary for May, when she planned to return home after the season and see her loved ones.

Right now, it’s a trip she’s sure she will have to cancel, which, like everything else, adds to the hopelessness and fear she’s feeling. While she understands no one around her is quite sure what to say, how to say it or even approach her, but she would tell them what they are doing is perfect.

Nastia feels loved, cared for and supported. They are the blessings she counts on as she counts the days.

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