CARRIE CLEARY

Player

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WHO ARE YOU?

"In 2019 I had a surgical accident that paralyzed my left leg. As I worked with my physical therapist to strengthen my leg, I also went through some depression that really had me questioning my future. I was really lost after my life was turned upside down. In September 2020, I found the Western Wake Tennis Association in Cary, North Carolina, which has a wheelchair program under Wheel Serve NC. I had played tennis growing up in the summer on clay courts and on hard courts in high school and college. I showed up that day terrified that I would make a fool of myself. I was strapped into the sports wheelchair supplied by the program and grabbed that tennis racquet. I rolled onto the court and a wave of euphoria came over me. I hit the ball and it was like electricity running through my body! The adrenaline ran through me for days. Every clinic date, I was there, ready to play."

WHY OWN A CHAIR?

"I was told about the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF) adaptive sports grant to provide me with funds to get a sports wheelchair custom made for me. We have tennis courts where we live so having my own chair to practice was really a huge deal. I could practice when I wanted and really grow my game. I applied for the CAF grant in October and in March 2021 I was notified that I received the grant!!! On the day I picked up my fuchsia chair at Eagle Sport Chairs in Snellville, GA, I was elated! She was so pink and she fit like a glove. I named her Trixe, which means 'Bringer of Joy.' The first day on the court with Trixie was amazing! The way my body felt in the chair made it easier to move faster and turn tighter. Having a chair made right to your measurements gives you a great advantage. As a 5'1" woman, having Trixie was a Godsend compared to a chair that was most likely made for a man."

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WHY IS IT WORTH IT?

"Playing in a Wheel Serve NC program has been a life changer. I am now volunteering with them to start the Sandhills program. Having tennis back in my life has changed everything. I have another social circle where we laugh and joke around while we play tennis and practice drills. I am so excited for clinic days. I take better care of myself in order to be a stronger athlete. I have more confidence and I am more productive in my day-to-day life."