At 17, Samantha Heyison is a Girl Scout, National Honor Society member and maintains a weighted 4.48 GPA. She’s also the best in the world at her sport.
Basketball, softball and horseback riding therapy are all activities Heyison has tried her hand at, but track and field events have held her focus longest.
According to her father, Marc Heyison, Samantha wasn’t always the fastest, but held tremendous strength. So her coach switched gears to events like shot put and discus.
Heyison and her family belong to Shaare Tefila Congregation in Olney. Family is important, as the athlete said her dad acts like a second coach to her. “He’s my reminder, my alarm clock,” she said, discussing all the networking her dad does as her liaison between Team USA and the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.
A rising senior at Urbana High School, Heyison holds personal records of 39.85 meters in discus and 10.45 meters in shot put, and remains undefeated in the 2022 Outdoor Urbana High School track season.
In the 2021 Maryland State 4A meet, she placed second in discus and fifth in shot put. She has also placed first and third for discus and shot put in the Frederick Outdoor Championships for Track and Field, placed first and second for discus and shot put in the CMC Outdoor Championships, and qualified for the New Balance Outdoor High School Track and Field Invitational.
Her accolades don’t come without effort, though. Heyison runs drills almost every day to work on the fundamentals and technical aspects of her sport. She lifts heavy weights four days a week and throws for a couple of hours every day.
Heyison is such a powerhouse that most people don’t know something is going on underneath all the training, according to her father. “That’s just the way she is,” Marc Heyison said.
Samantha was born with constricted band syndrome, an uncommon congenital situation that occurs when fibrous bands in the amniotic sac become tangled around the fetus. Although her left leg hurts sometimes and she has needed a few knee surgeries, Heyison says it isn’t a limitation.
While continuously placing in competitions against able-bodied athletes, Heyison has also proved herself as one of the best current Paralympic athletes. Heyison was named to Team USA Spring and is the youngest member of Team USA Para for Track and Field. She has competed and placed in many para athletic events, including Move United Jr., where she won with a throw of 31.55 meters. She has since been selected to join Team USA in the IWAS World Games 2022 in Vila Real de Santo Antonio, Portugal, and has surpassed the USA “A” standard in both discus and shot put.
As of Aug. 13, Heyison is ranked the best in the world in shot put and second best in discus, according to Para Athletics Official World Rankings. Her father said she recently beat her discus record that would have placed her as the top ranking para athlete in that event as well, but the meet occurred without official Para Athletics qualifications.
Heyison says she’s still young and has a long, bright future ahead of her. The athlete strives to compete in as many meets as she’s able, and to travel to countries she has never been to before, like Italy or Greece, in the process.
The high schooler’s next goal is to compete with Team USA at the 2024 Paralympic Games in Paris. Before that, she wants to compete in the 2023 Track and Field World Championships, which will take place next summer in Budapest.