INSPIRATIONAL ATHLETE-Carolina Blouin
I first met Carolina Blouin at a tennis tournament in Charleston, SC. Her big smile caught my attention but it was the kindness in her eyes that held my attention. Without exchanging many words, I knew that this woman had a story to tell. Carolina is an inspiration and sets an example of how to marry strength with kindness.
I grew up in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil with my four siblings and parents during a time of heavy inflation and economic instability. Because my parents were working hard to make ends meet, my only court time was in the streets of Brazil with an old wooden racket and a single, dirty tennis ball.
As I grew older I was allowed to use public transportation to Sao Paulo, a city twice the size of NYC to play and compete regionally. My guardian angels kept me safe with every commute. Staying alive was only half the battle-winning did not come easy for a child traveling alone. It took me four years of losing before I learned the art of winning. By age 16 I ranked number one in the state and four in the country.
College tennis in the United States would be my next goal. Carlos Kirmayr who coached Gabriella Sabatini offered to hand-deliver my resume to Winthrop’s head coach. I was offered a partial scholarship at Winthrop with the promise of a full scholarship if I met certain performance requirements. My father could give me enough money for one semester and the rest would be up to me. At the time I only knew enough English to say hello and ask about the weather. I knew a lot of work lay ahead of me and I felt prepared for the challenge. I worked very hard both on and of the court. So much so, that a good friend Bruno from Rio, decided that I was more “German” than “Brazilian” because I had given up a life of socializing common to the Brazilian culture. My eyes were fixed on achieving my goal of receiving a full scholarship.
My efforts paid off and through God’s grace I finished my college career with an undefeated season in both singles and doubles and I was inducted into Winthrop’s hall of fame in 2006.
Growing up playing tennis in the streets of Brazil and working my way into college tennis taught me how to be resilient. There are times in life however that no matter how much preparation or training one has done, a tragedy may come in which there are no ways to prepare for. In my case it came when my husband Marc and I welcomed our first-born child into the world. Eric was born with severe autism.
Tennis was a big part of my recovery from clinical depression after spending years attempting to teach Eric how to talk and to decrease his self-injurious behavior. Tennis became an anchor of emotional stability when I thought I had none left. I started competing again and it was a wonderful way for me to transfer negative energy into positive energy. The tennis community is a pool of healthy, confident and passionate individuals. I am blessed to pursue my tennis goals among a community of athletes who have lived life while pursuing their athletic endeavors.