Texas Kayaker Turned Stand Up Paddleboarder Gets Inspiration from the Sky, the Air and Her Late Father

By Jill Hammergren

July 4, 2018

A determined Special Olympics athlete from Texas loves being on the water and her coach emphasizes that she's the "queen of not making it in the water." Sonya Wilson of Austin, Texas explains, "You're not supposed to be in the water when you sit in a kayak or when you stand up on a paddleboard."

Wilson is one of 22 athletes from six states who participated in Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) at Angle Lake Park. The sport has been growing in popularity throughout the Special Olympics community and was featured as a demonstration sport at the 2018 USA Games. 

She was competing yesterday in a 1600 meter race, meaning she would make her way through the course two full times. It was mesmerizing to watch as Wilson strapped on her leg tether and mounted her board in the shallow water just off shore. She maintained an impressive balance as she guided the board across the water toward a golden buoy on a pre-determined course.

When Wilson is out on her board, she gains inspiration from, "watching boats on the water, looking at the sky and breathing the air. I think of my father. He taught me how to swim," said Wilson. Unfortunately, her father died in 2015, but he's never far from her thoughts. "He would say to me 'Be happy in your heart. Have joy. Believe. Be Brave."  Wilson was happy to be competing in Stand Up Paddleboarding at the 2018 USA Games. She knows her father would have been proud of her.