You really never know what someone has been through until you take the time to ask. We all experience our fair share of life's ups-and-downs, wins and the losses, triumph and tragedy. That, at the very least, is something we can agree upon, right?
It’s the will to keep going that often separates most from others. And on the subject of being glad we asked, sitting down with Shelley Wong and hearing her story certainly made us glad we did.
Shelley Wong is far more than a coach or a trainer; she's more than a great mother or a sports enthusiast. Shelley is an inspiration. She's an example of what organic resilience can provide. And that's why we're here.
Shelley was born in Hong Kong and left for adoption a few short days after entering this world. She went through a grueling surgery at age 12 (which detached her legs from her hips, rotated them and then reattached them) which then only led her to being forced in a wheelchair and tasked with re-learning how to walk... If that's not enough, soon after (far too soon) she was told she'd have severe arthritis by her thirties if she didn't act on the issues quickly. She had just entered into the realm of early double digits. Pre-teen! Her age held two small numbers, yet she'd gone through what most won't even experience in a lifetime. Since then, Shelley has overcome countless struggles and is here with a smile to tell us about it. The best part? We're barely scratching the surface.
Shelley Wong is a respected basketball trainer and coach with a deep history in athletics who currently lives in Huntington Beach, California. She grew up in Connecticut, which is where she found her passion for basketball and soccer. Again, we're just setting the table here. “My father and two older brothers were always active so it was natural for me to compete with/against them in everything,” Shelley tells us. “It made for some frustrating times during my childhood but ultimately helped me in my athletic pursuits.” Those pursuits included traveling to Cuba to play against the women's national soccer team when she was only 14, then shortly after to South Africa to play against some high level soccer clubs. “Soccer was my primary sport,” she explains. “However, I ended up playing basketball in college walking on at Colorado College, a D3 school in Colorado Springs, CO. After college I entered basketball coaching and have been training and coaching ever since!” Shelley has coached every level—from local recreational leagues to D1 college basketball, and has left a positive footprint at every program she's been a part of. But these days, she happily admits pickleball is life. “I have a passion for pickleball and play every day, sometimes twice a day!” Shelley tells us. “I also compete in several big pickleball tournaments and have started to organize my own pickleball events and have begun training players.”
But let’s rewind a bit. This respected basketball coach/trainer turned pickleball fanatic has been through many ups and downs to be standing where she currently is, and has fought the odds numerous times to find success in these special areas of her life. So, let's start at the beginning: “I was born in Hong Kong and left in an orphanage at birth,” Shelley tells us. “My birth parents were 16 years old and had me out of wedlock. I was in the orphanage until I was about three when I was adopted by my family in the U.S.” But even this difficult transition came with way more unexpected issues for Shelley, making the already uncomfortable process even more challenging. “At first, my orphanage tried to get a Hong Kong family to adopt me but documentation shows those who came to see me said I was too ugly or they didn’t want to adopt me because I was extremely in-toed—meaning my feet turned inwards instead of straight,” explains Shelley. “It was only when they labeled me as a special needs child that they allowed families outside of Hong Kong to adopt me.” Hearing this side of Shelley's story—at the starting line of her already diverse life—really made us stop and reflect.
“I was born in Hong Kong and left in an orphanage at birth. My birth parents were 16 years old and had me out of wedlock. I was in the orphanage until I was about three when I was adopted by my family in the U.S.”
We've seen Shelley thriving at events. We've seen her in action, seen her smiling and interacting with others... and maybe that's just it. Her bright personality, respectful competitiveness and skill in whatever sport she's playing or coaching is that of someone who might not have struggled so much; someone who has had some ups and downs, but nothing like the past Shelley has encountered in reality. Most would never guess her roots were so thick and filled with avenues of challenge, but nonetheless, they were, and she has aspired daily ever since, motivating and supporting countless individuals along the way.
Being in-toed is more common than most people might realize and most kids grow out of it sooner than later. Nonetheless, it can be an extremely huge intellectual challenge, to say the least and unfortunately, as the years passed, Shelley did not grow out of it as common as others. “I was very fast as a kid but would trip over my feet for no reason. I could be walking or running and I would just fall. We went to see a doctor who said if I didn’t get my legs fixed I would likely have severe arthritis by my thirties. My parents decided I should get surgery to realign my legs so they were straight.” At this difficult time in her life, Shelley was just turning 12 years old going into eighth grade, which as most of us know is already a challenging time in a young persons life. After an 8 hour surgery, Shelley tells us they basically detached her legs from her hips, rotated them and then reattached them—all while being held together with three pounds of bolts! “I was in a wheelchair for about six months and had to learn how to walk again,” says Shelley. “That was tough. I then had another surgery to remove the bolts and still have the bag of bolts to remind me of what I went through and how far I have come,” Shelley tells us with confidence. “I am 39 years old and I am happy to say I workout every day and fortunately haven’t had any arthritic issues!”
“I was in a wheelchair for about six months and had to learn how to walk again.”
We're fortunate that Shelley stumbled across Lasso for many reasons. But mainly that she has noticed changes in her daily life since wearing them every day. Whether she's playing, training, coaching or just moving through her day, she's happy to let us know the support in Lasso has added some comfort and support to her productive days. And for someone as active as Shelley, that's music to our ears.
"I can’t imagine life without being able to play and compete in sports. It’s a huge part of my identity," says Shelley. "Through sports I have met some of my best friends and greatest competitors who motivate me to do and be better everyday. I love the process, the grind, and the failures that come with my active lifestyle."
Showing up and putting in the work will always be the first step, but finding support in the products you wear that genuinely support your body and the way it moves has been a major green light in Shelley's respectful athletic journey. "Lasso socks really help a lot with ankle stability," Shelley tells us. "I have torn the ligaments in my ankle and chronic sprains from basketball so Lasso socks are the perfect sock for my needs. I truly look forward to wearing them every day."
Until about a year and a half ago, Shelley was only playing basketball. "I played in every adult league in the area including Mens leagues and I would be at the park or local gym everyday," she explains. "But Covid changed that."
As we know, most gyms shut down during the pandemic and most cities/states even took the rims off the hoops at local parks. With nowhere to play and a burning motivation to stay moving, Shelley stumbled upon a surprising new hobby, one that she had never assumed would consume her the way it did; a sport that continues to take over the country—Shelley found pickleball.
"One day I saw people playing pickleball at a local park called Worthy in Huntington Beach. I didn’t know what it was. A nice lady told me I could borrow one of her paddles and try it out. I did and was instantly hooked," says Shelley enthusiastically. "It was obsessive. I would play everyday... sometimes two or three times a day!" Shelley started as a 3.0 and now competes in tournaments at the 5.0 level. Though she have no aspirations to play pro at the moment, she'd still enjoy playing in pro tournaments. "I just want to see how good and how far I can go with pickleball," Shelley tells us. Adding, "I played in my Lasso socks recently at the Newport Classic and really felt good after two long days of playing. The socks really helped minimize my leg fatigue."
"The best athletes know how to take care of their bodies and know that a long career means taking care of their body. That always starts with the proper equipment and gear. And I've found that in Lasso."
Without trusted, quality gear it is really hard to train and prepare for rigorous activities once you decide to take it to the next level, or simply participate at a very active level, as Shelley does. "As I get older, I've realized quality over cheaply made sports gear is vital for athletic longevity. In order for me to play competitively for the next 20+ years I need to have the proper gear," she explains. "I don’t want to play in shoes with holes in them or socks that rip after a few uses. The best athletes know how to take care of their bodies and know that a long career means taking care of their body. That always starts with the proper equipment and gear. And I've found that in Lasso."
As the dust settles, Shelley tells us, "I just think it's important to enjoy life. Everyday, I do my best to be happy by doing what I love. I love waking up to the voice of my 5-year-old at 6 am every morning asking me to play with him. I love training players in basketball. I love pickleball training and playing in tournaments." And to us, it's so admirable. Some people take the L and walk home. Some take the W and go too hard. Shelley is just riding the rollercoaster, front row, ready for whatever ups and downs come along with it, confidently knowing whatever direction is in front of her, is the right direction. "I try not to sweat the small stuff," she concludes. Adding, with a chuckle, "And I laugh. A lot. Sometimes I laugh when no one is around. Honestly... I don’t know what my future holds. No matter what, I plan to kick butt in whatever I choose to do."
We know you will, Shelley.