Of all the incredible things I have been able to accomplish in my life, I am most proud of the fact that I've been able to make a good life for myself and kids despite my rough childhood. I grew up poor and on welfare. I had a very unstable and chaotic family life and spent time in the foster care system. In the midst of all of the chaos, sports and physical activity helped me develop the grit, perseverance, and determination I needed to survive my circumstances. I started judo when I was just five years old and eventually became a national judo champion. When we moved to an area where judo wasn't an option, I shifted my focus to basketball and eventually earned a full ride scholarship to play at Gonzaga University.
Sports and physical activity brought adults into my life that believed in me, saw potential in me, and invested in me. Because of their influence, I became a Physical Education teacher and taught for over two decades. My hope during that time was to make a positive impact on my students' lives just like my coaches and teachers did for me.
I am a forty-five-year-old mother of three wonderful children ages sixteen, thirteen and eleven. My American Ninja Warrior journey started about seven years ago, and it didn't take long before the kids and I were hooked and fell in love with the sport. In addition to training together in our backyard on our massive structure of over forty obstacles, we traveled all over the country visiting ninja gyms and partaking in various ninja competitions. In July 2021, our entire family qualified for the Ultimate Ninja Athlete Association World Finals. My kids have also had the opportunity to appear on American Ninja Warrior Junior.
American Ninja Warrior Career
My America Ninja Warrior journey began on seasons 8. I survived the first obstacle only to fail on the second. Season 9 was the same story. In between seasons 9 and 10 I had suffered a pair of injuries requiring multiple surgeries and wasn't able to compete, but my husband Charlie ran in my honor (he made it to the fourth obstacle). Season 11 was my big comeback season. I was physically healthy and mentally ready. And I had the run of my life. In the Tacoma/Seattle City Qualifiers I was the first mom in eleven seasons of ANW to get up the warp wall and hit the buzzer. I had another epic run in the Tacoma/Seattle City Finals going out on the 8th obstacle and finishing 13th place overall. I missed out on the National Finals by one spot. Season 12 was special. The producers, crew and ninjas worked together to film the season under strict Covid guidelines in St. Louis. I made it to the finals and was one of the last women standing. I also had the privilege to compete in the first ever ANW Women's Championship along side eleven of the top women in this sport. I managed to get my second ANW buzzer and made it to the finals. Season 13 brought me back to my beloved Tacoma Dome where I once again qualify for the finals in LA. However, the road to big dreams is a messy one. My Season 14 run lasted just four obstacles. My next big dream is to be the first mom to finish a ten obstacle finals course, win the women's championship and complete stage one at the Vegas national finals.
Making a Difference
I've been involved in several different fundraisers, charities and events all over the Pacific Northwest. To date I have brought in over $29,000 dollars for some incredible causes right here in Spokane.
Twenty-five years ago I heard a still, small voice whisper to me "Sandy share your story". I quickly shut that voice down. I continued to do that anytime I heard.... I remember thinking things like "no way it's sad, painful, embarrassing, people will judge me, people will run...." However, my journey on ANW finally gave me the courage and confidence I needed to share my story. After twenty-five years of carrying my past around like a dirty, shameful secret, I finally heard that voice again and I paused long enough to hear the second part of the voice which was "But Sandy it has a happy ending". After 23 years of teaching, I officially resigned in June of 2022 to pursue public speaking full time. I have never felt more alive in my life, sharing my story and hearing the impact it's making in others' lives. I know without a doubt that I am right where I'm supposed to be, doing right what I'm suppose to be doing. And it feels amazing! I'm so grateful for the journey of growth I've had and I am beyond excited to see where this new chapter in my life leads me.