It is not everyday someone from Dawsonville gets to take their first bite of a warm waffle from the Waffle House off Ga Hwy. 400.
However, on the night of Friday, Oct. 15, a new visitor walked through the door for her first trip ever. Abby Felkai, a junior at Dawson County High School, went to the DCHS football game against West Hall and afterwards, went to the breakfast establishment with a group of friends
“I was like ‘I have to go,’” Felkai said. “It’s just such an American thing...you go to a football game and then go to Waffle House.”
Her recent first trip was because Felkai, along with her parents and her younger brother Jacob, have now lived in Dawsonville since July after moving from the Toronto, Ontario area in Canada, where she lived her entire life until then. Her dad’s work changed over the last year and the Felkai’s were either moving to Dawsonville or Las Vegas.
One in the same, right?
“We’d always talked about moving to the states eventually,” Felkai said. “My parents told me two months before we were moving to Georgia. So I finished school, had a month of summer and then I came down in the middle of July. I had a really good group of friends in Canada. I was really excited for my junior year, but I’ve met a lot of really good girls here.”
The quickest way Felkai was able to get assimilated into a new, American high school was through sports. She always had a competitive spirit, but potentially might have met an equally competitive counterpart in Lady Tigers volleyball head coach Tanya Porter.
Felkai played club volleyball in Canada, but said school sports were not very competitive at all. She had a small tryout with the Lady Tigers when she took her first visit to Dawsonville in April 2021. On that visit, Felkai realized how different sports would be.
“[Porter] even stayed in contact before I came back,” Felkai said. “She made sure I stayed in touch with everyone and made sure to get me involved with the group chats. I was already in contact with a lot of people before. It was nice to know they were all looking forward to me coming.”
Though she did not want to leave the hometown she knew and loved, Felkai said she was aware that she had to make the best of her new situation.
“You can’t control your circumstances,” Felkai said. “No matter how badly I did not want to leave my home, you can’t control it, so you just have to make the best of the situation. So, I tried to take the time to get to know the little things about my teammates. I know Emerald loves communication on the court. And Jessie...she’d always call the sets.”
Success on the court came quickly for Felkai and the Lady Tigers. After only winning eight games in 2020, the volleyball team finished the regular season with 19 wins and third in Region 7-3A. With the team’s success came more fans, something Felkai was not used to having at her sporting events in Canada.
“Sports in general are definitely a bigger deal here,” Felkai said. “You would barely ever see anything about high school sports in a local newspaper. It’s way more competitive here. We didn’t have State or like a big tournament or anything like that. Your neighbors are like ‘We saw you in the paper’ or ‘We came to your game.’ It’s such a big community thing.”
Felkai led the team statistically in kills, aces and assists, but it is not the recognition that made Felkai fall in love with volleyball, but the camaraderie of the sport.
“I love having to depend on each other,” Felkai said. “With sports like basketball, soccer or tennis, you can be a ball hog, but in volleyball you can’t. You have to trust your teammates. You can only touch the ball twice so you have to be able to trust your teammates. You have to build that relationship on and off the court to be able to succeed on the court.”
Though the Lady Tigers volleyball team came up short in qualifying for the state tournament, that has not discouraged Felkai from trying other sports. She said if her schedule allows it, she would like to try playing soccer or running track for the school.
Away from sports, Felkai said she is still getting used to the cowboy boots, the changes classes at school brings and still missing her friends from Canada. However, Felkai said she has no interest in leaving Dawsonville anytime soon.
“I came here and everything is so local,” Felkai said. “I love the small town feel. It’s just that small town like what you see in movies.”