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"I absorbed Mr. Fleming's teachings" - Princeton Supplement (significant person)

cvmiller39 3 / 10  
Dec 12, 2010   #1
Hey everyone,
This is a rough attempt at my Princeton supplement. Any comments are appreciated.
1. Tell us about a person who has influenced you in a significant way.

"Backhand!" said Mr. Fleming enthusiastically. My younger sister Rachel and I groaned as we prepared to perform our backhand strokes on the baseline. Against our own wishes, my parents had forced us to take up beginner tennis lessons with an elderly, exuberant instructor named Tom Fleming. "And remember this is a stroke, not a hit. I don't want to see any baseball swings!" There were so many other ways I wanted to spend the summer before my first year of middle school. I did not respect this man, Mr. Fleming, and I made sure he knew it. The techniques he taught were straight out of the wooden racquet days, and the ridiculous rules of tennis made me cringe. As Rachel and I picked up balls, I would mutter things like "this is stupid" and tell myself that I was quitting. But I was not allowed to quit, and eventually I realized that I might as well make the most of the time I was forced to spend with my instructor.

Stubbornly, I absorbed Mr. Fleming's teachings. The most immediate change occurred soon after my change in mentality: I became more physically fit and mentally stable. It was a truly fantastic feeling to be able to hit a greater number of serves without feeling as tired or mentally psyching myself out. This was also the first actual progress I had seen come from what I originally assumed was a meaningless endeavor.

As the lessons continued, I noticed that my skills were steadily improving. No longer did I have a baseball swing, or hit serves over the fence. The rallies that Rachel, Mr. Fleming, and I shared now lasted longer than a few shots. Most importantly, I was consciously aware of my actions; each movement that once was forced and felt awkward now was fluid and smooth. The game of tennis was certainly no longer a chore. It was a complete surprise when Mr. Fleming told us that we had become skilled enough to attend the intermediate clinic with his other students. Though it was initially discouraging to be in the presence of much better tennis players, the drills and practice games now took on a competitive characteristic. I knew I was capable of winning each and every point, of giving my best effort - a knowledge that I had previously never experienced.

The person responsible for my passion for tennis, and for my view on competitive interaction in all aspects of life is Tom Fleming, a man I once so passionately hated. Because of Mr. Fleming, I grew out of my insolent youth and learned to respect those around me. I learned the basics of tennis and now I was in fact capable of holding my own against better players. I had put Mr. Fleming into the farthest abysses of my memory for many years, but he has returned to my recent memory as a person who has significantly influenced me. What is unique about Mr. Fleming, someone who has made such a strong impact on my current personality, is that he never directly imposed change upon me, or pointed out ways for me to change my hostile attitude towards him or the game of tennis; I did those things myself.
donrocks 5 / 120  
Dec 13, 2010   #2
Hi Andrew!
I didn't quite like the tone in the first para about your feelings towards the teacher. There is a difference between being informal and rude and I think you do tend a few times to ruder side.

Let me show you like...

I did not respect this man, Mr. Fleming, and I made sure he knew it.

aspects of life is Tom Fleming, a man I once so passionately hated.

The second one is good sort which does indulge a smile but the first one could me made better.

I was forced to spend with this man.

There is no need for "this man".... Is there?

There were so many other ways I wanted to spend the summer before my first year of middle school

I love this line. I can just imagine you, your feeling and this is a genuinely good line with a lame ending cause I think tennis does not make you embarrassed which would have been true if you were learning ballet(as a boy..)

On the whole, my aim is to show you there are few lines that need to be improved to give that punch and soul the essay. Your English is good- clean and simple without being childish. Just need tone the essay...

Hope this helps... :)
OP cvmiller39 3 / 10  
Dec 14, 2010   #3
Hey donrocks,
I really appreciate your comments. I have taken them into consideration and am posting an updated essay shortly.
Juliano 11 / 29  
Dec 14, 2010   #4
Great essay Andrew i really liked the fact that you showed in your essay the change that happened to you because it is something many forget to show the reader but imply. My only problem was the tone of the first paragraph as the other person stated above. Also the word "man" is used quite often in your essay. I wonder if you can find a substitute for the word so that it day not become repetitive. I hope this helps you.
ftfn 4 / 13  
Dec 14, 2010   #5
Maybe you can add details to this man. Through his words or specific expression to show his character and your character at the same time.

I like your writing! Can you offer some suggestions to my Swarthmore Essay?...Thank you...
Oleh 5 / 33  
Dec 14, 2010   #6
Lol, as a tennis player, I must say I like your topic.
I agree with donrocks about being too harsh.
Although those were your true feelings, tone it down a bit and add little humor maybe?
The rest, I think, is flawless. You talk about what you learned and how Mr. Fleming influenced you.
You answered the prompt and kept the reader's attention at the same time.
Good job! I enjoyed reading this.
EF_Kevin 8 / 13,321 129  
Dec 22, 2010   #7
Here is an idea about EFFICIENCY in writing:
You can look for opportunities to omit words and shorten phrases... for example,
with an this elderly, exuberant instructor. named Tom Fleming.
This way, it is much better. Flemming's first name is not important.

Rule to remember forever: Dialogue needs to be separated by commas, and the first letter of the sentence is capitalized:
...things like, "This is stupid," and tell ...

Great insight at the end...
Cut out as much detail from the story as you can cut without losing any of its power. In a story intended to express a theme, usually a lot can be cut. Cutting intensifies.


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