Albany Herald Guest Columnist Loran Smith
Out on West Wesley on Atlanta’s north side, inactivity at the homestead of Herb and Lisa Short is as unwelcomed as the plague. If you aren’t doing something productive or creative, you should probably leave.
First of all, you must get a visual in order to grasp the multiple activities that take place here. There’s a tennis court to accommodate Lisa’s year-round tennis teaching schedule. There’s also a pool, where kids who get tired or frustrated from their lesson can refresh themselves. She believes that an effective teacher doesn’t crack the whip-she makes it fun. Her attitude is that a leader prevails where an enforcer fails. “Okay Johnny, hit one more bucket of balls, and we’ll take a swim. And, by the way, no going through the motions. Put your heart in it.”
While she didn’t copy Dan Magill’s style, which she was exposed to when she played tennis at Georgia and spent time with the Bulldog tennis guru, she noted early on that Magill, a confirmed advocate of discipline, found the route to making practice fun.
Like Magill, she accentuates the positive, gives a thumbs up to creativity, curiosity, hospitality, work ethic, fun, and games. When she is not busy teaching (tennis and preschool at Peachtree Presbyterian), she is into landscaping (“What I would give for Coach Magill to come see my yard!”), tends to her vegetable garden (“Come for dinner and you can have peas, cabbage, corn, broccoli, tomatoes, and lettuce-which I grow!”), and robs her bee hives of honey for her friends. “Here,” she said to a visitor, “take a couple of jars of the Mayhaw jelly I made, one for you and one for Coach Magill.”
If you were to come for dinner, she might cook fish for you. She finds fishing relaxing, and don’t think of making any friendly bets-like who catches the first fish and who catches the most. If you do, you are likely to be embarrassed, unless you are a bass-catching expert like Kevin Van Dam.
What is it with this teaching, landscaping, gardening, beekeeping, outdoorswoman who can hold serve against men in tennis competition — one who finds time to read a book and can’t wait till the Bulldogs’ next home game takes place between the hedges?
A true Renaissance woman! If she doesn’t qualify, who does? Chess, checkers, bridge, square dancing? If you pull up a chair or nod in her direction, you better fasten your seatbelt. There’s nothing sinister or underhanded in her makeup, but she thinks competition, not just variety, is the spice of life.
Just ask Ray Goff, onetime head football coach at Georgia. Ray, some ten years older, saw Lisa develop into a fine tennis player back home in Moultrie. When Lisa was coming to Athens in the summers to play in the Crackerland tennis tournament, he thought a little friendly tennis match was in order. She and her parents had checked into the Holiday Inn for a weekend, and Ray invited Lisa to join him at an Athens tennis facility, keen on giving this upstart female athlete from back home, a “real” tennis lesson.
How did the match turn out? Lisa made no comment, but her smile gave her away. It was that way for years with Lisa, the first female to receive scholarship aid in tennis at Georgia. On the tennis court, she could always make the boys yell “Uncle!” However, she never rubbed it in. She is a woman of spirit and fight but also one of class and courtesy.
This is a woman who lives life to the fullest, packing in fun whether she is playing games or doing chores and making intellectual and physical stimulation integral parts of her life.
By the way, there are two more things on her list of accomplishments, which deserve mention of the highest order — being a devoted wife and mother.
Loran Smith is affiliated with the University of Georgia and can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.