A promising high school tennis player, Katie Derksen, 16, hopes to work one of Andy Roddick's matches as a ballgirl during the 2004 Games. Her brother Nick, 14, will be the batboy for the Greek Olympic baseball team.
They and their mother, Candace, will attend the Olympics courtesy of the Greek Amateur Baseball Federation, which intends to pay all of their expenses.
The trip, however, likely will fall well short of being a dream vacation.
Katie's and Nick's father, Rob Derksen -- a Baltimore Orioles scout -- was supposed to manage the Greek national baseball team in its inaugural Olympic appearance, but Derksen died of a heart attack while on a scouting trip in New York two weeks ago. He was 44.
His death shocked the international baseball community, threw the preparations of the Greek team into temporary turmoil and devastated his family.
The president of the Greek federation, Panos Mitsiopoulos, spoke to Derksen by phone just a couple of hours before he died. Mitsiopoulos flew to Hales Corners, Wis., to attend Derksen's funeral and made a promise to his wife and children: They would be his guests during the Games.
"It is the only thing I can do for his family," Mitsiopoulos said from Athens. "It is something."
Nick, who was coached by his father on the Franklin Sabres, a state traveling team, will receive a Greek uniform with an emblem commemorating his father's contributions to the Greek team.
And Katie, entering her junior year of high school, will be welcome as a volunteer at the baseball venue, Mitsiopoulos said, when she is not chasing errant shots by Roddick -- she hopes -- and other players.
"It's really hard to think it has even happened yet," Katie said by phone from Hales Corners last week. "I believe it, but I don't. I know he would have wanted us to go [to the Olympics], no matter what. I want to see what he's done. He put so much time and effort into everything he's done for the team, I really want to go and watch."
Dusty Rhodes, a longtime friend and colleague of Derksen's, has taken over as manager for the Greek squad, which is expected to consist largely of U.S. players with Greek heritage who have obtained Greek passports. The team was assembled thanks to a massive recruiting effort led by Orioles owner Peter Angelos and carried out by Derksen, who managed the Australian team in the 1996 Olympics.
"The guy was just energy," Rhodes said by phone from Athens on Thursday after his first practice with the team. "When you were around him, he was either going, or thinking about going. . . . That kind of energy, that kind of enthusiasm, is what really got this off the ground."
Rhodes said the native Greek players competing for spots on the team adored Derksen because he taught them the game.
"They were all shocked like everybody else," Rhodes said. "These guys had an opportunity to play because of him. For us, the only thing we can do is pick up where he left off."
D.C.'s Abdullah Qualifies
The third try really was the charm for rower Aquil Abdullah, a Washington native who qualified for the Olympics on Wednesday in the double sculls with Henry Nuzum.
Abdullah, who failed to make the 2000 Games with a heart-breaking loss in a tiebreaking race by .33 second, also failed in his first opportunity with Nuzum to win a qualifying spot at a recent world cup in Germany.
But the pair ran away with Wednesday's double sculls final at the U.S. Olympic trials in West Windsor, N.J., defeating the second place boat by nearly three seconds. (Arlington's Michael Callahan and his partner Dave Friedericks finished third.)
"It's been a long time coming," said Abdullah, who along with Nuzum has been training in Boston with Harvard University's lightweight teams. "I still don't think it has sunk in yet, that I've done it, and I'm going to the Olympics to compete. The task isn't over yet; we want to go over there and do well."
The world governing body of track and field (IAAF) will wait until Aug. 15 to decide whether Michael Johnson and the other members of the U.S. 4x400 relay team that won the gold medal at the 2000 Games should be forced to relinquish their medals, according to IAAF spokesman Nick Davies. The medals are in jeopardy after the Court of Arbitration for Sport's announcement last week that Jerome Young, a member of the relay team, should have been banned from the Games because of a drug violation.
Davies said the IAAF Council would address the question during its next meeting, which takes place in Athens. . . .
Allyson Felix, last year's headline-grabbing prep sensation, has not been nearly as dominant this season. Her best time of 22.71 in the 200 meters this year falls well below the jaw-dropping 22.11 she ran as a 17-year-old high school senior.
Six U.S. women have posted better times, meaning Felix -- who qualified for last year's world championships team and will race at the U.S. Olympic trials, which begin Friday -- might have to put her Olympic hopes on hold until 2008. Felix, who turned pro late last summer, attends the University of Southern California. . . .
After Jennie Finch and Lori Harrigan combined to throw a no-hitter for the U.S. softball team in its 42nd Olympic tour victory over the Bloomington Lady Hearts in Normal, Ill., last week, USA Softball's public relations team offered up these stats: The U.S. team has a pre-Olympic tour winning streak of 156 dating from 1996. During the 2004 tour, the team has outscored opponents 373-11, accrued a team batting average of .403 and a team ERA of 0.29, and tallied eight no-hitters and four perfect games.