South Salem senior shoots for ‘second chance’ at Paralympics

High School Senior Spotlight

SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — South Salem High School’s sitting volleyball star Annie Flood is trying to take all the curveballs 2020 has thrown her way and knock them out of the park.

Almost exactly one year ago, Flood told KOIN 6 News about her dream to compete in the 2021 Paralympics in Tokyo. But the competition was put on hold just a few short months before Team USA’s roster would have been announced, leaving Flood to wonder if she would have made her sitting volleyball Paralympic debut in Tokyo.

“It’s sad not knowing but also it’s good to know that I have possibly a second chance if I didn’t get that first one,” Flood said.

The 16-year-old is refusing to focus on what could have been had the pandemic not postponed her Paralympic dreams over the summer.

“It’s like, what would’ve happened if this had not happened — would I have been there? Would I have come home with a gold medal?” she wondered.

With Tokyo on hold, Flood had looked forward to her senior year as a Saxon at South Salem. But that dream also had to change as the coronavirus continued to spread in Oregon.

“I’ve always wanted to be a senior and I’m super involved in school so it’s really hard because I love school and I love the environment and I have a really good group of friends there,” Flood said. “So it’s hard leaving all that and just knowing it’s probably not going to happen at all.”

Now that distance learning has freed her up to study from literally anywhere, it didn’t take Flood long to decide she would pour all her focus and energy into making the 2021 Tokyo Paralympic team.

“I texted my coach and I said ‘would I be able to come and train with the residents?'” Flood said, referring to a group of people living in Oklahoma who train every day. “And he was like ‘yeah, can you be out here next week?'”

Flood and her dad packed up their car and drove 27 hours to Oklahoma. She had already been taking regular trips to Oklahoma City to train with the sitting volleyball team but being entirely independent is a big change.

“I’m completely self-sufficient there,” said Flood. “I’ve had to learn to pump my own gas which is crazy.”

The teen balances a job, online school and full-time training which she hopes is worthwhile in the end.

“My biggest worry was going there and feeling like I wasn’t getting anything out of it but when I got there, like, after the first week, I felt like I was improving and just getting better all around,” she said.

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