Interesting Article... -
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 5 (permalink) Old May 17th, 2002, 08:30 AM Thread Starter
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 7,478
Interesting Article...

A long, perilous road from Croatia to Idaho
Associated Press Writer
May 17, 2002

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) -- When Zeljka Vidic is handed her diploma, she will have taken one more step on what has been a long and perilous road.

She endured war and exile, illness and poverty. Her family barely escaped ``ethnic cleansing'' in Croatia. Half a world away, she became a tennis player at Idaho, and will graduate Saturday.

``In 16 years I've had some extraordinary people play for me,'' tennis coach Greg South said. ``She is head and shoulders above the rest.''

On Sept. 11, tennis practice at Idaho was canceled after the terrorist attacks. Vidic showed up the next day wearing a big blue ribbon, South recalled. She told her teammates how she had survived war with her humanity intact.

``I chose not to hate,'' South recalled Vidic saying. ``Instead, I chose to fight back for freedom and a better life.''

Vidic, known as Z around campus, was born in Vukovar, in eastern Croatia, in 1979. Her parents and older brother had a comfortable life there until 1991.

Then an invading Yugoslav army laid a three-month siege and began indiscriminate shelling of the city. About 1,700 Croats were killed when the invaders and local Serbs overwhelmed the city.

About 22,000 Croats, including Vidic and her family, were expelled in late 1991 by the new rulers. Her family spent seven years as refugees in Zagreb, struggling with poverty and the memories of the brutality they witnessed.

In 1995, the U.N. war crimes tribunal indicted three former Yugoslav army officers for crimes against humanity during the siege of Vukovar. The trial of one is under way in The Hague, Netherlands. Former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic also is on trial for alleged war crimes committed by Serb forces in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

Vidic grows quiet and uncomfortable when asked about the siege of Vukovar, which often pitted Croats against Serbian neighbors.

``Somebody wanted to hurt my family,'' she said. ``We assumed it was a neighbor.''

There was an attempt to bomb the family's home.

``People were just crazy,'' she said. ``Everybody would just hate everybody.''

In Zagreb, Vidic earned a spot in a tennis club with a coach. She was the only tennis player in her family. She finished high school in 1997 and wanted to play in the United States. South learned of Vidic from friends in Europe, and watched a videotape.

``It was obvious there was a huge talent there,'' South said.

But over time, he came to respect her even more for her character and attitude.

``She went through some very difficult things,'' South said. ``I believe tennis helped her survive.''

Just before she left for Idaho in 1998, her father, Stjepan, had a stroke. Vidic did not want to leave, but her father urged her to take her scholarship and head overseas.

``It was not easy to leave him,'' she said.

The wheat fields, wide-open spaces and natural beauty of Idaho immediately appealed to Vidic. She also reveled in the chance to get an education and play tennis at the same time.

``We traveled a lot and I saw a lot of things in the U.S.,'' Vidic said. She enjoyed trips to California and to Seattle, but ``I really like Hawaii.''

She also loved playing with a team, but she understood what was required of her.

``You have to win,'' she said.

Win she did. As a junior, she led the Vandals with a 15-4 record. After recovering from knee surgery in January, Vidic was 16-10 in singles and 20-10 in doubles during her senior season.

``She has the best backhand of anybody who ever played for me,'' South said.

Even at Idaho she could not escape her past.

During one of her first matches, she was nervous at playing a woman from Yugoslavia, South said. When he asked her why, Vidic replied that the woman was a cousin of a Serbian boy who had terrorized her old neighborhood in Vukovar after the invasion. But both players came off the court laughing.

Vidic finished her career with 41 victories in singles and a school record 41 wins in doubles, despite missing nearly all of her sophomore season with torn knee ligaments from a skiing accident. That injury led to three knee operations.

This month, Vidic was chosen as the northwest winner of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association's Arthur Ashe Sportsmanship award. Only eight of the 4,000 women playing Division I tennis win the award.

In April, Vidic was among 174 athletes around the country who won an NCAA Postgraduate Scholarship Award. It provides a $6,000 scholarship next year as she pursues a master's degree in sports and recreation management at the university.

The 23-year-old Vidic graduates with a degree in finance, and would like to become a U.S. citizen. This summer she plans to teach tennis and is looking for other work.

``I like Moscow in the summer. It's like a little oasis for me,'' she said. ``I feel at peace here.''

Her family has returned to its home in Vukovar, but the situation there is still tense, Vidic said. Croatians and Serbs live largely separate lives in the city now.

``We are trying to forgive,'' she said. ``But we will not forget.''
GoSandrine is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 5 (permalink) Old May 17th, 2002, 03:43 PM
country flag TS
Senior Member
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Melbourne
Posts: 21,115
wow...thanks for the article Ed...quite a poignant yet fascinating read.

Kind of puts things into perspective.
TS is offline  
post #3 of 5 (permalink) Old May 18th, 2002, 02:08 AM Thread Starter
Senior Member
Join Date: Sep 2001
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 7,478
Thanks for the mercy post, Terry

GoSandrine is offline  
post #4 of 5 (permalink) Old May 18th, 2002, 07:39 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 7,843
Great article - I'm surprised (in a good way) it was on Yahoo. As Terry said, it does put things in perspective.

(I bet if we posted this in GM it'd get about 2 replies whilst the shit stirrers continue to stir their shit.)
sartrista7 is offline  
post #5 of 5 (permalink) Old May 18th, 2002, 10:11 PM
Senior Member
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Croatia
Posts: 941
hmmmm, I wonder how come I didn't hear of her... Croatian TV loves these kind of stories. Or rather the ex goverment loved them for propaganda. Well it's probably better this way. It's a too touchy story to be ruined as propaganda...
Master Lu is offline  

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome