Invictus is Latin for unconquered.
Sharona Young served 14½ years in the U.S. Navy as a Chief Petty Officer. During that time, she was stationed at several different commands. Her first was onboard the USS Bataan in Norfolk, Va. Her last duty station was US AFRICOM in Molesworth, United Kingdom. When Young retired from the Navy, she moved to Orlando and bought a house in the Lake Nona area.
Young began playing tennis when she attended an adaptive tennis program for veterans in San Diego back in 2015. The new addition of the USTA in Lake Nona has allowed Young to play more often. “When the USTA headquarters opened here this spring, I started attending the weekly wheelchair tennis program. I like to play as often as I can, usually once or twice a week.” Young is working on getting her own sports wheelchair, but when she was invited to participate in the wheelchair tennis and hand-cycling events at this year’s Invictus Games, the USTA loaned her a tennis wheelchair.
The Invictus Games were created by Prince Harry when he was inspired to create an expanded international version following a visit in 2013 to the US-based Warrior Games for wounded, ill and injured military personnel and veterans. “Time and time again, competitors from around the world tell me that sport has saved them; that the Invictus Games have given them a new lease on life; and that to represent their country again with fellow comrades is something they could only have dreamt of while lying in [the] hospital,” said Prince Harry.
The games took place from Sept. 23-30 in Toronto, Canada. “I AM” is the motto for the Invictus Games. “To me, ‘I AM’ means believing in myself, being mentally and emotionally ready to take on new challenges,” said Young. With 550 competitors from 17 nations competing in 12 sports, it was sure to be a spectacular experience where all of the servicemen and women united. “This was my first Invictus Games. It was an amazing experience. I am honored to be one of the chosen to represent the USA Team. [The games were] fantastic! It was an amazing feeling to meet veterans and service members from all over the world. I felt so inspired seeing people with all sorts of disabilities pushing themselves and competing.”
The retired Chief Petty Officer played doubles in six matches and also rode in two cycling events. The most memorable moment from the Invictus Games for Young was all of the support and encouragement from the other competitors. She even received a bronze medal in the hand-cycling race. “[It] was such an amazing feeling. After the initial shock settled in that I had received a medal, I was very excited and proud.”
Young’s goals for the near future are to get her own tennis wheelchair so that she can continue to learn the sport and become a stronger player. “I would like to see more adaptive sport opportunities held in the Orlando area. Playing sports is an excellent way to stay active and aid in recovery.”
The USTA might just be one way to do that.