Tracy Otto aims for the Paralympics

Tracy Otto aims for the Paralympics

April 27, 2024 Off By Hawkeye Johnson

By Tracy Otto

First event of the 2023 season at the Russ Harvey Memorial tournament hosted by the All People’s Life Center in Tampa, FL. Photo courtesy of Tracy Otto.

My name is Tracy Otto and I am a C5 quadriplegic which means I am paralyzed from the chest down with little to no hand function. I wasn’t born this way. The night October of 2019 my ex boyfriend broke into my home in an attempt to end my life. Among other horrible acts of violence, he stabbed me in the back of my neck paralyzing and nearly killing me. 

 It wasn’t until March of 2021 that I was recovered enough to participate in sports.  In 2023, with the help of the GoHawkeye grant, I was able to have an incredible season that has set me on the path to the Paralympics. Here are some highlights from the journey so far.

I competed in my first International tournament in the Czech Republic. Photo courtesy of Tracy Otto.

To start the season off, I competed in the annual Russ Harvey Memorial tournament hosted by Hillsborough County Adaptive sports. HCAS through the All People’s center in Tampa, is where my archery journey began. There, I met Earl Brown who taught me how to shoot using a mouth tab in. After that first shot I was hooked. I wanted to know more about the sport and where it could potentially go from there. It was then that I set my sights on the 2024 Paralympic Games. I always enjoy my time shooting this tournament because it gives me the opportunity to see the kids from All People’s that I began my journey with. It also serves as a bench mark for the season and a little family reunion.

The Gator Cup in Gainesville, FL securing a spot for the Para Pan Am Games in Santiago, Chile in November 2023. Photo courtesy of Tracy Otto.

 Next, I had the opportunity to shoot Gator cup in Gainesville Florida. There, I was able to earn the spot to compete at the Para Panam Games in Santiago Chile. The goal being to earn the quota slot for the country to compete in the Paralympics that following  summer.

 Over the summer I had the opportunity to travel and compete at worlds in the Czech Republic. This was my very first international tournament. Even though I didn’t place where I wanted to, the experience was out of this world. I made friends with people across the globe and met the #1 ranked female W1. She was incredibly nice and despite our cultural/ language barrier we got along wonderfully and are still friends to this day. 

Attending a camp in Chula Vista, CA at the Elite Athlete Training Center for Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Photo courtesy of Tracy Otto.

Then, I travelled to Chula Vista California! This was my first time going to the Olympic/ Paralympic elite athlete training center. While there, I got to work with Johnathan Clemins who is the head Paralympic archery coach. I gained valuable insight and had a wonderful time practicing and playing archery games with the team that was heading down to Chile. It was a great way to prepare for the Para Panam games to follow. 

 Finally, I traveled to Santiago Chile for the Para Panam games! Going to Chile was so much fun! I met the other female W1s who were so incredibly nice. I was able to spend time and get to know. 

 I am proud to say that I took home the gold and secured the quota slot for the United States to compete in the Paralympics this summer! We are well on our way to achieving the goal, Paris 2024. Thank you so much for your support and generosity. This grant has truly changed my life and I’m so excited to see what the future holds. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

-Tracy Otto

Securing my quota slot for Team USA as female W1 to compete in the Paralympics in Paris 2024. Photo courtesy of USA Archery.