BassWestUSA - November/December, 2009, Page 28

a successful athlete on any level requires commitment, but to achieve a world rank- ing in any sport requires much more than commitment. It requires dedication, a willingness to live life on the edge, and in some cases life and limb. In the case of Sandy Young, that is exactly the kind of determination that brought her to the heights of world rankings, to the depths of struggle, and back again. Young and her husband Marc are familiar to anglers who com- pete at bass tournaments that come to the California Delta. They can often be seen hanging around with their friends at tournament venues around the Delta, even at events they are not competing in. The pair has seen some success on the water together in tour- naments, claiming Angler of the Year tiles in two northern California tournament trails in the same season. Like any other tournament anglers, their day begins early, but for Sandy Young; it begins earlier. As with everyone, the story of their life begins at birth, but with Sandy Young, a new chapter started on October 5, 1997, with an accident that left her paralyzed from the chest down. Young’s is a story of doing what you love, with someone you love; of overcoming adversity, of facing the worst life can throw at you and continuing on with the joy, when everything and everyone would ques- tion; ‘why?’ The reasons may be entirely for herself; however, her per- severance and spirit serve as inspiration to others.Like the Rod Stew- art Song says, this is one person who seems to remain, Forever Young. “May the good Lord be with you down every road you roam. And may sunshine and happiness surround you when you’re far from home. And may you grow to be proud dignified and true.

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And do unto others as you’d have done to you. Be courageous and be brave And in my heart you’ll always stay Forever Young, Forever Young, Forever Young, Forever Young.” Young has always been a competitive person; in fact, just be- ing in the field has never been enough. She rode motorcycles and show horses until she was 14 years old. She was married at 18, eventually having two daughters before the marriage dissolved. When the competitive fires began to return, she found a love in racing jet skis, and as her nature was to push herself, she sought to compete on a high level. “I raced as much as I could, and my goal was to make it to the world finals,” Young said. “I wanted to make it to that level against the men, because it was a higher level of competition.” Her desire to compete on a high level meant she needed spon- sorship, and it meant working sports shows. It was while working for Yamaha Personal Watercrafts at the San Francisco Sports and Boat Show in January of 1996 that she met Marc, her husband. “Marc loved the water, he was into jet skis, and loved to fish,” she said. “He was from Nebraska, and bass fishing was something that he shared with me right from the start. If we weren’t on the jet skis on weekends, we were fishing.” By 1997, she had achieved the rank of 5th in the country, and 9th in the world among women, and was racing in the ultra- competitive men’s super stock class when she was involved in a practice accident. “It was the fifth practice lap, when I crashed go- ing off of a log jump,” she said. “While I was trying to get back on my ski, another competitor went off the jump and landed on my back, breaking my back at the T-4 vertebrae.”

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November/December 2009