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Tammy Allard: There's gold in Los Banos

Los Banos Sports

Los Banos' own Tammy Allard won two gold medals at the national level in her first year of competitive water skiing. She was awarded the highest award for the best rookie skier. Her name will be enshrined in the Waterski Hall of Fame in Florida.
Tammy Allard - Gold Medalist

It is a ritual that has taken place since the beginning of sports. This time it's played out in the town of Muskogee Oklahoma in the early 80's. Two individuals, picked as "Captains", face a group of players, alternating picks until everyone has been chosen. If a captain wants a chance, he will choose a healthy boy. If he wants to win, he will choose a girl, with one arm.

Tammy Dawn Allard was born in the City of El Monte in Southern California on May 16, 1967. She moved to Hannibal Missouri in 1978, before moving to Muskogee Oklahoma. Tammy now lives in the City of Los Banos California, where she is a Public Safety Dispatcher at the Los Banos Police Department. In school Tammy's classmates had names that were pronounced in English and Spanish. She asked a friend what her name would be in Spanish. That nickname, "Tamwella" (Tam well la), is still used today on her personalized license plate. In 1979 at the age of 12 Tammy lost her right hand and forearm in a lawn mower accident. "I was young when I lost my arm and I wanted to be able to be like the other kids so everything I did was a challenge. I just didn't give up. I rode bikes, played softball, and just tried to do everything the other kids did."

Tammy learned to play softball one handed and played into her Sophomore year of High School. She continued to play in the summer recreation softball leagues. She would always draw spectators who watched the one armed girl attempt to play softball. They soon realize she can play well, not just for a person with one arm, but as well as any other softball player. That is just fine with Tammy. She has always being congratulated for playing so well with only one arm, but she insists upon being held up to the same standard as any two handed player. Tammy is one that wants to be judged by her contribution, not by her appearance. She belongs to a seemingly dying breed of athletes that believe in being as good as your performance, not as good as you say you can perform.

She took that attitude onto the water. In 1985 while living in Muskogee she learned to water ski with friends. Tammy started skiing regularly in 1991, but just recreationally every spring and summer. In the summer of 1999, Tammy started training for the United States Disabled Championship Team. At the time there were no other one-arm female water skiers on the United States team. Her coach, Kent "T" Sandhagen, had attempted for the previous 4 years to get Tammy into competitive skiing. He even designed a sling for her right arm that equalized the "pull" coming out of the water as she was taking off.

In her first year of competitive skiing, Tammy qualified for the National Team by winning two gold medals at the Regional held in Sacramento for the Slalom and Trick competition in the Arm Amputee division. She went on win two gold medals at the 2000 National Water Ski Championships that were held in Birmingham Alabama. She was also presented with the highly regarded Royce Andes Award naming her the "Most Promising Skier." The award, sponsored by the Western Region of WSDA, is presented each year to a promising new National competitor. There were a record eight new competitors this year. The award is voted on by the other competitors at the National Championships, and is to honor, not necessarily a great performer, but a competitor who is an inspiration to others to try, learn, and compete. The award is placed in the Water Ski Hall of Fame with Tammy's name permanently engraved. In 2001, her second competitive year, she won a total of four gold medals, two at the Regional competition and two at the Nationals.

According to the USA Water Ski (http://usawaterski.org) a National Disabled Committee was appointed in 1986 by USA Water Ski President Jeffry Armstrong. This group created and promoted opportunities for the disabled to participate in recreational and competitive water skiing. With the innovations of items such as "sit skis", paraplegics and quadriplegics can ski competitively. In 1994, the National Disabled Committee became a sport division of USA Water Ski - the Water Skiers with Disabilities Association (WSDA). The first three national tournaments for disabled skiers were held in 1989 in Dearborn, Mich.; in 1990 in Charlotte, Mich.; and in 1991 in Bridgewater, Mich. The first Disabled Water Ski World Championships was held in Roquebrune-Sur-Argens, France, in July 1993.

Tammy's Links

Training Center KeNevA Ski Pond
Tammy's Donors

Challenged Athletes Foundation
USA Water Ski Disabled Division
American Water Ski Assoc. West
General Waterski Rules
In Action Pictures

Email Tammy at LB Sports

If you want to be a SuperHands Kid or Hero, or know any inspiring stories that would be a benefit to this site's viewers, please send me an email. Thank You!

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