She is 22 years old and trains with Ten Kicks Gym in Seattle, WA. She grew up in central Illinois and moved to Seattle in 2013 for college. Her sophomore year at the University of Washington, she signed up at a UFC Gym, thinking kickboxing would be fun. She had played team sports until she was 16, and didn’t realize how much she missed working out in a group and someone yelling at her.
A year or so later a good friend decided to compete in a kickboxing smoker, and she was (lovingly) peer-pressured into sparring. She was nervous as hell, but everyone assured her it’d be fun (fine?).
Alas, they were right, and she was hooked.
She continued working out and sparring once a week, but still just for fitness and fun. Eventually her coach proposed that she fight too, and then the real fun started. She competed in her first kickboxing smoker in October 2016, swiftly getting her ass kicked. She did two more smokers in the spring and summer of 2017, improving each time. She took her first amateur kickboxing fight in October on three days’ notice, and won by unanimous decision. She is currently training for her first Muay Thai fight in December!
If she is not at the gym, she is probably busy working for an event ticketing company or in a mosh pit. She can quote every episode of Arrested Development and frequently laughs at her own jokes.
Q&A Session Between Sarah VanSandt and Elite Sports
Question: What inspires you about Muay Thai and Kickboxing?
Answer: I love the opportunity to constantly learn and always improve. If I’m not pushing myself to train harder and perform better, I’m wasting everyone’s time.
Question: Who inspires you, past or present? Why do they inspire you?
Answer: I’m inspired every day by my amazing team (#teamtenkicks). Not just their accomplishments and the work they put into improving their art, but the way they carry themselves in and out of the ring. They’re some of the hardest working, most welcoming, and downright fantastic people I’ve ever met.
Question: What are your goals for this year? Next 3 years? Next 5 years?
Answer: Keep training and keep fighting! I’m young and have only been competing for a year, I’ve got a lot to learn and a lot to prove.
Question: How long have you been training?
Answer: I’ve been training to fight for 1.5 years, and I’ve been kickboxing for recreation and fitness for 3.5 years.
Question: How often do you train?
Answer: Six days a week, year round.
Question: Any major accomplishments you’ve been able to achieve in that time?
Answer: I took my first sanctioned fight on three days’ notice and came out with a unanimous decision win. I’m also incredibly proud of how much my team has accomplished since opening the gym earlier this year, and we’re just getting started!
Question: Do you have a go-to finishing move?
Answer: Not yet!
Question: What do you think it takes to be a champion in your sports?
Answer: You have to be willing to show up every day and put in work. Know that you always have room to improve and skills to learn, and always be willing and receptive to support. It takes an army.
Question: What sort of gear do you usually keep in your gym bag before hitting the gym? Do you have different items for specific days?
Answer: I keep my gear (MMA gloves, boxing gloves, shin guards, and pads) at the gym, but I always bring the basics: hand wraps, ankle supports, wireless headphones, and a few extra shirts, because god knows I never make it through a workout without sweating through at least one.