Chris Young has put Oklahoma state women’s tennis on the map.
Young, OSU Women’s tennis coach says, “I grew up in this state and I came back here with a passion of wanting to bring tennis to a higher level in the state of Oklahoma and I don’t think it’s me, but I’m definitely humbled when people feel that way.”
And a lot of that success goes to his wife of 19 years, Sarah. Who has become like a mother to many of the girls on the team, most of whom are from overseas.
OSU Senior Women’s Tennis Player Carla Tur Mari says, “Actually my grandma passed away a couple of weeks ago and she was one of the first ones to find out. It was really cool of her to come talk to me after that.”
OSU Senior Women’s Tennis Player Katarina Adamovic says, “When your mom is ten thousand miles away and when there’s eight hours time difference you can’t really call your mom all the time and complain about certain things so Sarah was always there for me.”
But about 3 years ago, Sarah would soon need those girls, when her world was turned upside down.
Chris’ wife Sarah says, “I just started having severe pain when I would eat or drink anything. Including water. We just kept thinking it would go away and we started going to doctors and it would be incorrect and then we got to the point this past August where I was severely malnourished and just couldn’t really do much to get out of bed from not eating.”
That led Chris and Sarah to the Mayo Clinic where she was diagnosed with Median arcuate ligament syndrome, known as MALS. A syndrome that compresses arteries and nerves causing severe pain in the abdomen. The diagnoses would require numerous surgeries and treatments in Minnesota. And that’s when the OSU family stepped in to help one of their own.
“The only way I could be there and support her fully, but try to do the best I could with the team is to have a donor that has been allowing us to use his private plane to go up and back. It’s just been a life saving literally opportunity to do that. We’re so indebted,” said Chris.
Sarah’s health issues proved to be a turning point for the Cowgirls in post season play…They started a hashtag big 1 S with the s standing for Sarah. And even though she wasn’t there in person to cheer them on…she helped the team rally to win a big 12 championship and finish as NCAA runner up last season.
“We were playing for Sarah. And to make her proud and to make her better. And that brought our team together and it showed on the court,” said Adamovic.
“I couldn’t be more thankful that he had those group of girls to support him because he sacrificed so much time away from them to be with me during that time and I couldn’t be more grateful,” Sarah said.
And throughout the ongoing battle, it’s impacted Chris not only as a coach but as a person.
Chris added, “I used to think winning a national championship was the end all be all and you know I think we learned last year that don’t get too far ahead of yourself, enjoy every moment for what it is because tomorrow could be different and it’s not promised that it’s going to be the same as today so when you have great opportunities in front of you just enjoy it.”
And with her road to recovery well underway, Sarah plans on doing just that.
“I just enjoy every time getting to cheer the girls on so I’m ready to do it again,” says Sarah.