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breakfast_of_champions 02-18-2007 09:15 AM

Whats Adrea Yeager Doing?
 
Adrea Yeager? ANDREA JAEGER WHOOPS BRAINFART

BY WAYNE COFFEY
DAILY NEWS SPORTS WRITER


AFTON, Va. - It's 4:15 in the morning, and Sister Andrea Jaeger is already in her full habit, the first prayer session of the day behind her. God speaks to her all the time, tells her what His plan is, but these early wake-ups, this is all Jaeger's idea. She has her brown leather Bible next to her - her name is inscribed on it - and so much to do: sick children to visit, a foundation to run, vows to keep.
Why sleep in when you can do good deeds, and go for a contemplative, one-hour run, too?

"I just love the serenity of the morning," Jaeger says. "The phone doesn't ring. Nobody else is awake. It makes me so excited. Here comes another day!"

Sister Andrea Jaeger is 41. She is three months into her new life as a Dominican nun in the Episcopal Church, and almost a quarter-century beyond her short-lived stint as the biggest sensation in women's tennis, a ball-bashing baseliner with waist-length pigtails that swung with every groundstroke, and braces that befit her teenage station.

Jaeger is an alternative energy source, fueled by Providence. She has a girlish voice and a big laugh, and an amped-up signoff to her cell phone voicemail ("God's love and blessings to you"). She can speak eloquently for 20 minutes in answer to a single question, and often does.

The answers always come back to her personal relationship with God, a journey that has transformed her from tennis brat into humanitarian; umpire-baiter into child-saver; conflicted prodigy into devout caregiver, all without forgetting how to be playful.

During a recent visit to the children's cancer wing of a Cincinnati hospital, Jaeger led sing-alongs and brought lightness, and roared with laughter when a little girl called her "a fun nun." She jokes about how it used to take three minutes to get dressed when she just wore sweats. Now it takes a half-hour.

"I finally understand why women were spending all that time in the bathroom," she says.

Jaeger is here in the Shenandoah Mountains, visiting with her writer friend Rita Mae Brown, having traveled from her home in Hesperus, Colo. Brown, a mentor and kindred spirit whom Jaeger first met when Brown was a tour regular as the partner of Martina Navratilova, is helping her with a children's book. Staying in a cottage at a bed-and-breakfast, Jaeger steps on her flowing black habit as she heads upstairs, briefly stumbling.

"I still have to get used to wearing this," she says with an embarrassed smile.

* * *

A first-generation American, Jaeger was a most improbable tennis wunderkind. She was raised in Chicago by her German-born parents, who came to the U.S. in 1956. Her coach/father, Roland, was a former boxer and bricklayer who ran a saloon called The Postillion Lounge. She started tennis at eight, and thanks to inexhaustible energy and abundant athleticism, took to it quickly, becoming a top-ranked junior by the time she was 13, turning professional at 14. She entered qualifying play in her first tournament in Las Vegas, a Futures event for up-and-coming players. She won 13 straight matches and captured the first of her 10 titles.
Jaeger swiftly ascended the ranks of the WTA tour, all the way up to No. 2, at 16. She was a relentless 5-5, 130-pounder who was pushed hard by her father, mouthed off to linespeople and was a regular in the final weekends of Grand Slams. The only trouble, according to Jaeger, is that she felt alone and adrift in the cutthroat culture she suddenly found herself in. She lived with a terrible secret: she did not want to be No. 1 in the world. She did not want to hone a killer instinct, or become an all-time great. As much as she loved to play, to dive for balls and set up points and reach a level few players ever get near, she did not want to do it at someone else's expense. Her conflict ran so deep that she says she intentionally lost a number of big matches, Grand Slam finals included.

When Billie Jean King expressed interest in coaching her, Jaeger wasn't even tempted.

"I saw her drive to be the best, and I did not have that drive to be the best," Jaeger says. "I know if I worked with her I would've been No. 1 in the world. I know it, but it would've come at too great a cost. I was never going to tell people what God wanted me to do - that I wanted to be of service to others."

After losing to Jaeger for the first time, Chris Evert approached her in the locker room and said, "Now that you've beaten me, will your father let me be your friend?"

Wary of Evert's motives, and her hyper-competitiveness, Jaeger replied, "This has nothing to do with my father. I don't want to be your friend."

So it went until the 1984 French Open, when Jaeger's shoulder went out, a chronic injury that had become far worse - and that would effectively end her career at 19 and ultimately require seven surgeries to repair. She had earned almost $1.4 million, but now the financial faucet was off. Her parents were devastated, Jaeger quite the opposite.

"I knew it was God saying, 'OK, now we're going to go help kids together,'" Jaeger says. She smiles. "It was an easy transition from professional athletics to charity, because it was like, 'Get me out of here.' It was such a relief I couldn't live my truth on the circuit."

Jaeger sold her Mercedes-Benz and passed the money around to worthy causes, supported charities and then stepped it up, launching her Little Star Foundation in 1990, along with close friend, Heidi Bookout. The mission of Little Star was to provide long-term help and support for children afflicted with cancer, and has since expanded to reach kids suffering from abuse, neglect and all manner of mistreatment and illness. By now Little Star has helped thousands, getting generous support from luminaries such as Mayor Bloomberg, Cindy Crawford, John McEnroe and Paul Newman. Jaeger herself has put $2 million in, including her entire pension and her investment portfolio.

"She follows her heart. She has always followed her heart. A lot of people don't have the strength to do that," says Jaeger's sister, Suzanne, 44, who played at Stanford and had a short turn on the tour.

Jaeger says that God has been directing her life, showing her the way, since she was a little girl. His message was never more pointed than it was last February, when she was on her way to work out on a stair-stepping machine when she says she could feel Jesus in her heart, inviting her to waltz with Him. She says she took a few spins, self-consciously, and said, "OK, I'm done." Her feeling was very strong, but she wasn't clear about the meaning of it until the next day - Feb. 4, 2006 - when she had a dream that she was in a convent with St. Catherine of Siena, a Dominican nun from the 14th century. St. Catherine was floating, beckoning, showing Jaeger the life she was to live.

Cindy Crawford was the first person she told. "It was a surprise, but not a shock. She has always been very, very devoted to her faith," Suzanne Jaeger says.

Andrea, who had earned an associate's degree in theology, found a Dominican order to study with, and began in April.

"At first I was a little apprehensive because of her celebrity status," says Father Kevin Pritchard, the priest who presides over the aspiring brothers and sisters in the Order. "But the way I looked at it, it was like a prince or merchant back in the Middle Ages, giving up everything to join our community. I think in a culture that worships celebrity and wealth what Sister Andrea is doing sends a powerful message."

Jaeger immersed herself in study and prayer, and was ordained Sept. 16, after she delivered a sermon at Pritchard's church in North Dakota. In one part of her message she said, "Everything great I received from my tennis career God gave me. He didn't take it away. He decided it was time for me to serve Him in a different way."

Sister Andrea Jaeger is officially still in the apprentice stage as a nun, but knows this is her calling. She will live a celibate life, serve God and keep helping children through her foundation.

As King says: "She has done so many good things for so many others since leaving tennis, and her journey continues today."

* * *

mellofelow 02-18-2007 09:42 PM

Wow... thanks for the update. I remember her vividly as a child. As quickly as her rose to fame, she vanished. Ever since then, there are quite a few stories of her charity and devotion to philanthropy.

Andrea probably touched and endeared by more people after her sports career than any athletes... ever.

Thanks again for the memories...

Mick 02-18-2007 10:30 PM

She was one of GOAT moonballers. Lunar madness as Bud Collins called it :)

bluegrasser 02-19-2007 04:33 AM

She's what I call a *real* Christian, unlike the many others that talk to they're blue in the face and do little. Helping those kids with cancer, and giving them a little joy in the last few years of their life is really impressive.

MNJ 03-09-2007 10:21 AM

Another good article on Sister Andrea Jaeger:

http://www.startribune.com/503/story/1043445.html

fr600 03-09-2007 02:15 PM

Good to know

pound cat 03-09-2007 04:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fr600 (Post 1302794)
Good to know


Here she is....http://img2.timeinc.net/people/i/200...rea_jaeger.jpg

vsdtrek 03-09-2007 08:51 PM

Awesome story. To give up the material "riches" for something far greater - what a tremendous person she is!

Deuce 03-10-2007 11:21 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by bluegrasser (Post 1262510)
She's what I call a *real* Christian, unlike the many others that talk to they're blue in the face and do little. Helping those kids with cancer, and giving them a little joy in the last few years of their life is really impressive.

I respect what she's doing a whole lot.
But I'd respect her more if she was doing this kind of thing without needing to subscribe to a religion in order to do it.

officerdibble 03-12-2007 11:25 AM

A powerful advertisement for what putting too much pressure on your children's tennis can do.

Thanks for posting.

Rabbit 03-12-2007 11:39 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deuce (Post 1305332)
But I'd respect her more if she was doing this kind of thing without needing to subscribe to a religion in order to do it.


Why say something like this? I think it's rather callous.

Chances are if you were doing the same thing without subscribing to a religion, she'd probably respect you any way. I, for one, applaud the sincerity and vigor with which she pursues not only the humanity of her work, but the theology as well.

I think her motive and religous belief is both sincere and of the highest nature. I couldn't respect her any more. She gave away her fortune and followed what she believed. There aren't too many examples like hers any where in the world.

Tchocky 03-12-2007 12:01 PM

She's a nun? A real nun?

Fedace 03-12-2007 12:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Tchocky (Post 1308628)
She's a nun? A real nun?

real nun, a real nun. she is a nice girl

N23 03-12-2007 12:59 PM

Read an article in the Sacramento Bee a few months back. Good for her. Good to see she is enjoying her life beyod tennis.

officerdibble 03-12-2007 02:27 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rabbit (Post 1308567)
Why say something like this? I think it's rather callous.

Chances are if you were doing the same thing without subscribing to a religion, she'd probably respect you any way. I, for one, applaud the sincerity and vigor with which she pursues not only the humanity of her work, but the theology as well.

I think her motive and religous belief is both sincere and of the highest nature. I couldn't respect her any more. She gave away her fortune and followed what she believed. There aren't too many examples like hers any where in the world.

Sadly, she isn't following she believes, she's following what she's been indoctrinated into - no different from if she'd gone to Waco, or the Moonies. Ironically, what she's done is inhuman - in so far as what defines humanity is our capacity to think, and she's subscribed wholesale to a religous corporation. I'm genuinely and profoundly sad that she so lost touch with what's important that she had to go and co-opt an entire doctrine, however apparently laudable some of that institutions values may appear to be.

It wasn't a callous remark, it was a considered one. And I believe it is a genuine warning to parents who push their kids into sport creating a vacuum of life's other elements - and Ms Jaeger was relatively succesful in her tennis life. Some might think that becoming a nun is better than turning to drugs. At a psychological and philosophical level they are interchangeable.

officerdibble 03-12-2007 02:28 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by vsdtrek (Post 1303498)
Awesome story. To give up the material "riches" for something far greater - what a tremendous person she is!

Please can I have all of your material riches - then you can be a tremendous person too. Honestly, it's the least I can do. :D

Deuce 03-12-2007 10:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Rabbit (Post 1308567)
Why say something like this? I think it's rather callous.

Chances are if you were doing the same thing without subscribing to a religion, she'd probably respect you any way. I, for one, applaud the sincerity and vigor with which she pursues not only the humanity of her work, but the theology as well.

I think her motive and religous belief is both sincere and of the highest nature. I couldn't respect her any more. She gave away her fortune and followed what she believed. There aren't too many examples like hers any where in the world.

I think the key word here is followed.
She followed something (religion) whose parameters and policies and beliefs were already set and defined, rather than create her own.

I view religions in much the same way as I view politics. People who subscribe to one political party or another generally adopt all of the policies and 'beliefs' of that party, rather than form their own independent, individual perspectives. The same occurs within religions - there are expectations and policies and beliefs that one must adopt and adhere to in order to belong. And when one adopts any policies or beliefs or principles that are not of their own independent creation, the beliefs, principles, etc. are not as strong or as solid. Sort of like doing something out of association and/or expectation rather than doing it because of a strong, sincere personal belief.
To do something because one believes that "it is God's will" to me is no different than to do something "because it is George Bush's will", or any other political leader.
To do something because it is ONE'S OWN will - not because it is any other's - that is what commands my respect.

If one possesses a strong and sincere enough personal belief in something, there is no need to join any sort of party or organization in order to pursue that belief.

Deuce 03-12-2007 11:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by officerdibble (Post 1308935)
Sadly, she isn't following she believes, she's following what she's been indoctrinated into - no different from if she'd gone to Waco, or the Moonies. Ironically, what she's done is inhuman - in so far as what defines humanity is our capacity to think, and she's subscribed wholesale to a religous corporation. I'm genuinely and profoundly sad that she so lost touch with what's important that she had to go and co-opt an entire doctrine, however apparently laudable some of that institutions values may appear to be.

It wasn't a callous remark, it was a considered one. And I believe it is a genuine warning to parents who push their kids into sport creating a vacuum of life's other elements - and Ms Jaeger was relatively succesful in her tennis life. Some might think that becoming a nun is better than turning to drugs. At a psychological and philosophical level they are interchangeable.

Good post.
The last two sentences may cause some eyebrows to raise - and may even invite some harsh remarks - but it's essentially true.

bluegrasser 03-13-2007 04:27 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Deuce (Post 1305332)
I respect what she's doing a whole lot.
But I'd respect her more if she was doing this kind of thing without needing to subscribe to a religion in order to do it.

There you go Deuce, being the " Curmudgeon ' - if religion is what motivates her and gives her strength to do what she does, then party on. Hel$ Deuce, we have to listen to all your gloom and doom philosophy.

bluegrasser 03-13-2007 04:33 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by officerdibble (Post 1308935)
Sadly, she isn't following she believes, she's following what she's been indoctrinated into - no different from if she'd gone to Waco, or the Moonies. Ironically, what she's done is inhuman - in so far as what defines humanity is our capacity to think, and she's subscribed wholesale to a religous corporation. I'm genuinely and profoundly sad that she so lost touch with what's important that she had to go and co-opt an entire doctrine, however apparently laudable some of that institutions values may appear to be.

It wasn't a callous remark, it was a considered one. And I believe it is a genuine warning to parents who push their kids into sport creating a vacuum of life's other elements - and Ms Jaeger was relatively succesful in her tennis life. Some might think that becoming a nun is better than turning to drugs. At a psychological and philosophical level they are interchangeable.

That is just idiotic, she chose to do what she did and bravo for her choice, what are you - God, like you know all her motivations, maybe she should of been a stripper.


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