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.
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