The Sky Was The Limit
Sam Surowiec, Inspirational Athlete
Sam Surowiec is a 41 years old and a teacher and coach living in Everett, Washington. Sam lost his leg in an accident and went on to inspire others with his resolve to tackle a variety of athletic feats. Sam is married with two kids – his aim in life is to be healthy and be able to play with his children and his future grandchildren. Above all, Sam seeks to have fun!
I was a fearless 22-year-old bachelor living in Utah with my brothers when my accident happened. I was headed home after a long workday and going too fast on my motorcycle when I hit a truck coming the other way. I woke up by paramedics in an irrigation ditch with a broken wrist, and a leg broken in over 70 places from toe to mid-thigh. 8 years, 21 surgeries, constant pain, and eventual chronic infection, later, I had my leg amputated from above the knee.
I remember visiting a prosthetist prior to scheduling my leg amputation. I asked about how you get a prosthetic leg. How does it fit? What will I be able to do? How can I be active? There were pictures on the walls of super-fit athletes with prosthetic legs. He looked at me and said I was young enough to do these things. In other words, the sky was the limit.
My leg was amputated in January of 2004. I was up walking a few months later. I met the founder of Seattle Adaptive Sports a few years later in Yakima, Washington at a coaching conference. Tami English introduced herself and provided me with information on sports that her program offered—including wheelchair basketball. She provided me with a contact for a chair and a few weeks later, I dragged my family along, and attempted to play in my first game.
What I found was that wheelchair basketball provided me with the opportunity to play sports at a competitive level again. While I always stayed involved in sports, people never treated me as one of the guys. They were afraid of hurting me. Wheelchair players don’t care. It can be brutal, and I love that.
“Wheelchair players don’t care. It can be brutal, and I love that.”
A few years later, Katie Holloway, a Team USA Sit Volleyball player, introduced me to her sport and got me connected with the coaches for the men’s team. They started flying me out for camps and I was soon a part of the team. This time I was playing at an elite level.