Incredible Shorty
Diana Diyarova, 13, Kazan



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This year my friend and I signed up to play on our school's volleyball team. It is such a great privilege and responsibility as we defend our school’s name in city competitions.

Our teacher said that both of us were potentially strong players, but Tanya was really shy and didn’t believe the teacher. Many of the older teammates, who also envied her, said that she was too short and clumsy to play on our team. They said that our team was too “professional” (that’s what they called their team) for her. However, the coach didn't agree and kept her on the team.

Before the first game Tanya came to me and said that she was tired and was afraid to play. The entire game she sat on the bench and looked at me with sad eyes. The next game it was the same; she was afraid to play; she was afraid to lose. I tried to convince her that she was wrong and that she needed to play, but she would not listen to me.

All the other girls were happy to see her weak. But one day I hurt my leg and there was a really serious game, so the coach asked (almost forced!) Tanya to play in my spot.

It was something incredible!!! Tanya kept scoring. It was a beautiful victory – a victory of her spirit. She got stronger! All the older girls were surprised and apologized for their behavior. They still call her “Shorty”, but it is different now. They call her “Incredible Shorty” and they are proud to play with her on our team! On weekends together with Tanya we give lessons to small children. I’m lucky to have Tanya – my best friend!


I. Understanding the Story
With a partner, write down what you think is the main idea.

II. Vocabulary
Look at the words in bold in the story. Discuss with a partner what these words mean.

1. privilege
5. envied, envy
2. responsibility
6. weak
3. competition
7. incredible
4. potentially

III. Now you Talk
1. Compare the two characters, Tanya and the writer.
2. Why do some people do well in sports and others do not?
3. What do you think of Tanya and the writer?

IV. Now you Write
1. Write a paragraph or more, expressing your opinion about the story.
2. Write about any of the subjects in Exercise III.

V. Grammar Practice
Change the verb from present tense to present progressive.
Example: We defend our school. We are defending our school.
1. She plays volleyball every day.
2. The other players talk about her.
3. We give lessons to small children.
4. She sits on the bench and watches me.

VI. Role Playesent progressive.
1. The writer and Tanya: They talk about playing volleyball.
2. The writer and coach: They talk about the team.
3. Tanya and other players: They tell her she is not good enough.
4. Tanya and the writer: They talk about her being “Incredible Shorty.”