November 12, 2021 | NEWS | Interview by Sabrina Brewer
Sally Huss, a Colorado Springs author and artist, discusses her tennis success, passion for pickleball, and finding her calling with children’s books.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
“My father really put tennis rackets in my brother and my hands just so that we could do something when we moved to Bakersfield in the middle of the summer. In 115 degrees or whatever it was.
I started playing tennis when I was very young. At a certain point, my father said, “How good do you want to be?” And I said, “Well, I don’t know.” He said, “Well, why don’t you be a champion?”
I moved up the ladder little by little and eventually became the number one junior player in the U.S. I continued on, always with my goal to win Wimbledon.
I was semifinals at Wimbledon in the singles and doubles. Eventually, I just decided to do other things. And because there was no money in it, there was never any idea of making a career of tennis. In those days, it was just a great challenge.
When I played tennis, there were no women collegiate teams. It was before women played tennis on teams. I was the number one junior in the world, and it never would have occurred to me to ask for a scholarship.
As a child, we start losing and then this big lump goes in your throat. You start getting sad that you’re going to lose. Everything is focusing on winning.
You let your parents down. You let your coach down. All that kind of stuff is pressure on the child. It’s a big load when your parents send you off to Europe to play in a championship and borrow money to send you.
I did some dance work; creative dance therapy was what it was called. From that, I ended up learning to play tennis in a very different way. I had been raised with a very rigid form as a tennis player. This freed me up.
This way of playing that I created was extremely relaxed, transferring energy and moving things around, being very open-minded and not having preconceived forms or ideas of where to hit the ball, and just playing very spontaneous tennis.
It was fearless tennis, absolutely fearless. And nobody really liked to play me because they couldn’t beat me. I didn’t care. I didn’t care if I won or lost. I tried very hard. I was not careless, but I was carefree. So that made it difficult for people because they’re always against the other person, and I was never against anybody. I was just happy that they would hit me the ball.
My husband had been head of advertising promotion for Hallmark Cards. Someone had arranged for him to look at my artwork, and that’s how we ended up getting together. Once we finally were married, we did other things and then started creating Sally Huss galleries across the country. We did 26 of them — all focused on my artwork and my writing. So that was a different thing to do. But I was a Gemini, so you can kind of do anything when you’re Gemini.
I had, many years before, started writing children’s books and just putting them in a box. I took this box everywhere I went, and I always felt that one day I would have enough time where I could illustrate these books and really focus on them.
After 9/11, these galleries started closing down, all of them except for one. So I got that box out, and I started learning how to illustrate children’s books on my computer. And I would do a book a week. Write and illustrate and publish it myself on Amazon. That’s how I ended up with over 100 children’s books.
I just switch gears now and then. But that’s kind of the nature of a Gemini, I think. They can do a lot of things and not just one thing.
A woman contacted me, and she said my grandson is afraid of everything. Absolutely afraid of everything. Do you have a book on fear to help children get over fears? So I wrote this wonderful book, “The Trick to Being Fearless.” The main character, when he was afraid of something, he would say, “I am courageous.” He’d say it in an apple or in his glass of milk or whatever it was, and then he’d drink it or eat it. He’d swallow this very good thought, and then he became what he swallowed, so he became courageous.
They would just come to me, these thoughts, and kind of make me wake up. Dream big, plan well, work hard, smile always, and good things will happen. It was like a whole philosophy that existed.
I don’t consider myself a writer, but I’ve written a lot of books. I just put ideas down. I don’t labor over anything. I just put it down. And if it’s good, it’s fine. If not, I don’t worry about it.
I’ve taken up pickleball like everybody’s mad about these days. And so, of course, I had to write a book about pickleball so now I have a new book. It’s called “Dare to Dink: Pickleball for Seniors and Anyone Else Who Wants to Have Fun.”
By the time somebody is pretty old or has lived a certain amount of life, there are a lot of heavy things that they’ve gone through. They get through it, but I think that play is extremely important to lighten the spirit, to move around, and feel free.
I was not interested in doing something that didn’t go anywhere. Just to paint something to have it sit someplace wasn’t interesting to me. Whatever I do, I want it to go out, for somebody to find it useful for something.
I was with very highly evolved people at one point in my life. And that helped me find my life’s work. My life’s work is really the children’s books that came to me in a dream.
I was not very strong physically at that point. I was taken out of my body, and they worked on my body. On the other side, they worked on me and healed me and then put me back in. When you have experiences like that, you really value life in a greater degree. You know that you’re here not just for yourself but to do some particular work. Then I found my particular work was really to uplift the lives of children.”