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McGowan active again

BAY KELLEY, Sierra Sun

It’s appropriate that Holly McGowan – along with her husband, Tim McGowan – is the owner of the Perennial Nursery in Tahoe-Vista.

“Perennial” means “returning or becoming active again” according to the third edition of Webster’s New World College Dictionary, aptly defining McGowan’s circumstances.

Three years ago, McGowan, 20 weeks pregnant with her third child, Hope, had a car accident on Interstate 89. Though Holly, her unborn child and oldest son Jack survived the accident, it left McGowan without the use of her legs, confined to a wheelchair.

“That kind of thing gives you a whole new perspective on everything,” McGowan said. “It’s a totally different awareness. If there was a cure, I’d take it … but I wouldn’t trade what I know.

“I feel so much more aware of what other people are going through. When I hear things, I feel lucky … like, whew, I dodged that bullet. The people I’ve met, what they’ve gone through … I’ve learned not to be judgmental. Tragedy can hit you at any time. You have to live for the moment.”

Adjusting to the situation, McGowan, over time, discovered wheelchair tennis and attended two camps – in San Jose and Portland – sponsored by the Paraplegic Veterans of America and the U.S. Tennis Association.

“At the camp in Portland, I won an award,” said McGowan. “The most supportive player or something and I had to give a speech. When I started to talk, I got all choked up and said that tennis has changed my life … and it really has.”

McGowan is presently a part of the Truckee-Reno-Sparks team along with five other players, with whom she practices twice a week.

“Tennis is the biggest sport that I’m involved in,” McGowan said. “I’ve done cross country skiing and hand-cycling, but tennis is probably the most active I’ve been in a sport ever.”

This past weekend, McGowan placed in all the events in which she participated at the 14th annual Tahoe Donner International Wheelchair Tennis Sectional Championships.

She ranked as the top finisher in the Womens’ A Doubles and the Womens’ B Doubles competitions and was runner-up in the Womens’ B singles.

“I’m trying to learn to be more competitive,” McGowan said, going on to say that she has a tendency to be too nice on the court.

McGowan further expressed her appreciation for the event’s camaraderie.

“The people here are just wonderful,” she said. “The thing that’s really great about these events is that suddenly, when you’re in a group, it just seems normal. It gives a level of normalcy.”


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