By Gianna Piva
Heidi Sand is from Carlsbad, California, and is happy to be representing Southern California at the World Games in Berlin this June. This is her first time competing at the World Games, and she will be showcasing her skills in tennis. Heidi has been a Special Olympics athlete for 18 years, participating and competing in various sports and events. When asked what she loves most about Special Olympics, Sand says, “To meet other friends, to train, to have fun!”
When Heidi found out she was going to be competing at the World Games, she said, “I jumped up and down” when she received the news while on the clock at her job. Routine training is a big part of Heidi’s preparation for the games and usually consists of a five-hour training day out on the tennis courts. She rotates between hitting the ball machine, playing someone else for practice, or getting a lesson from her coach. When she isn’t training, Heidi likes running or working out at the gym. She says she enjoys the training process, and in addition to tennis, she also practices with a basketball team. Sand said, “Every Sunday morning, I get excited to go train with my basketball team.”
Beyond competing, Sand is also looking forward to the opportunities “to meet other athletes from other countries and to meet my cousins and my aunt.” She has family members from Germany whom she has never met, so she is excited about the opportunity to meet them. In addition to those family members, her mother and father will also travel to Berlin to support her during the Games. She is glad to have so many people supporting her in the stands.
When asked what she has learned from this experience, Heidi said, “Never quit, never. If you want to achieve something, don’t give up.” Never quit, never was something she has carried with her for the entirety of her time with Special Olympics. This statement she holds so dearly began when she played tennis in high school and was something she and her mom created as words of encouragement and perseverance.
Heidi wants other athletes to know that they should never give up and to always have fun. Her experience with Special Olympics has been filled with new friends and great coaches she keeps in touch with.
Learn more about the 2023 World Games in Berlin at specialolympicsusa.org.