This I Believe

Taylor - Apex, North Carolina
Entered on October 1, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

It started out innocently enough, just a team walking around a shopping center to kill some time. I walked in laughing at a joke my friends made, but when I looked around, everything changed.

That might sound like an intro to a horror story, and in some ways, it was. I was at a tournament in Virginia, on a team of girls between ages 13 and 17. None of us had quite the same personality, but our coaches took those differences to the extreme. The head coach, Jamie, was a quite girl, nice and focused. The assistant coach, Peter, was the hyper one, making sure Jamie didn’t get too down on herself. He was also a vegan. He was an idol of mine, and his lifestyle started to rub off on me during the days there.

My team went to a shopping center to eat dinner, and then got some ice cream as dessert. Peter couldn’t have it, so he left with a few other people who didn’t want any. We ate our ice cream and still had a while to kill before we had to go to sleep. We decided we’d look around the shopping center. There wasn’t much there so we eventually decided to go to a hunting store that was nearby. I went in with my team thinking the only thing I would find was hunting gear. But I was wrong beyond belief. As I walked in, we were laughing our heads off about something really strange in front of the store. But once I stood up and my head cleared, I looked straight into the sad eyes of a dead buck. I looked around a little more and saw even more animals that met too early a death to be humane. I started feeling sick, and that was the breaking point. I ran out and sat on the bench trying to control my stomach until the rest of my team came out. I haven’t been to a hunting store since.

But that’s not the only effect Peter had on me. I was in gym class one day, and we had gone outside to run the mile. However, we found that some deer had been trapped between two fences at school and couldn’t get out. Seeing as how they were animals, they ran at the fences head first. At first I thought, “Poor deer.” But then, some boys in another gym class, playing tennis, tried to “help” them out of there, if you could consider running at them and hitting them with tennis rackets helping them. At the sight of that, I became so furious I could hardly see. That night, I realized that I can’t just think about helping animals out, I have to do something about it. Since then, I have been an animal rights activist.

Peter probably won’t ever know what happened that day, but he changed my life. Hopefully, I’ll change someone’s too. But I believe that one person can make a difference.