Amanda Kraus and Sue Krueger

Recorded December 8, 2008 Archived December 8, 2008 33:38 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY004844


Amanda and Sue talk about finding their personal identity as disabled women and their love of playing tennis.

Subject Log / Time Code

Sue grew up in a small town in Iowa and avoided other disabled kids.
Amanda always tried to be incredible at everything, to compensate for her disabilities.
Both talk about being socially/ politically active and involved but not connecting their disability to a personal identity/ marginalized group.
Playing tennis together has connected them socially to the disabled community. It also has allowed them to recognize themselves as athletes.
Through tennis, their perspective has changed on life as well as leading to a much deeper friendship between the two of them.


  • Amanda Kraus
  • Sue Krueger

Recording Location

MobileBooth West

Partnership Type



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00:04 Sue kreger age 57 will almost 58 and today's date is December 8th.

00:15 2008 and work at the University of Arizona and where in Tucson and relationship to my interview partner here is we are friends and colleagues.

00:28 My name is Amanda Kraus. I am 29 today's date December 8th, 2008 in Tucson, Arizona and my relationship to Suicide. We are friends and colleagues.

00:42 So Amanda, we we should just kind of maybe I don't know think a little bit about how we kind of first came to be friends mean the Kali too, but I think both I don't I don't know. Can you I remember always seeing you from a distance on campus, but I but you know for a number of years we we didn't really speak. I'm trying to kind of remember how that first how we first got connected and you have a memory of that. I do actually I remember thinking that I was I was doing my doctoral coursework and I knew that my dissertation was going to be around disability identity and I thought I should I should interact with someone who can help me learn about disability studies and disability identity. So I just remember sending you an email saying can I do your classes and independent study and would you work with me and that was really pointed for me because I knew that your class would be in the disability Resource Center in

01:42 Would mean that I would have to enter the disability resource center, and I never done that before because I I just hadn't been connected to the disability community in that way. So and you graciously allowed me to take his class.

01:55 Which was perspective The Narrative so that was a cool kind of insight for me and learning what other people's interactions have been and their experiences has been around disability class at Allen and I talked to give you okay the 416th. I think it was spring of maybe spring of 05 for definitely. Remember you being in the class and thinking all this is so cool. Cuz like I said, I've had seen you and I think maybe cuz I'm a little older than you obviously 30 years. I kind of look look for that. You know if I disabled women and cuz there aren't very many around and there are even fewer this will sound terrible who I feel like I would want to be friends with your hang out with but I I was intrigued by you and I would see you and wonder about you. So if I definitely remember you being in the class and thinking how I want to get to know this woman

02:55 Especially then when you know when you would talk about how interested you were in identity. I'm just curious when you when you say that, you know kind of coming to my class and the DRC was the first how did you get to in your doctoral work being okay with or feeling like you wanted to do the disability identity thing that was almost instant when I got to graduate school because we did so much student development theory and disability was not represented as an identity group and you know kind of give validity and being a cultural group or identity experience and it was really just really apparent to me. Once we started doing kind of racial identity gender LGBT there was nothing for disability and then I thought I should tell this story I should look into this. And so I knew I wanted to do that but still kind of getting getting involved with disability as a culture is a community I was doing that.

03:55 Morning, academic sounds almost like a participant Observer, even though I was disabled from Brooks. I just wasn't ever anything. I was personally connected to so then I thought well I can research or I could do some professional things with disability but I still wasn't really ready to be no kind of be friends with a really identify with disability probably until we start playing tennis last year and that was very recent. Yeah, that was less than a year ago. But it took me a long time to even want to identify with other people with disabilities and I think you are a member of several years back when we started working together. And then I asked you to have my doctoral committee thinking she's cool. Thank you. I would want to hang out in my awareness. I don't think to even think about other people with disabilities and wanting to get to know them really conscious decision not to

04:55 I want to say I can remember that to again. I think the age difference but probably similar age. I can remember feeling very similarly. I don't know we haven't talked much. But what what was it you grew up in the east coast and not the we haven't talked much but in terms of kind of you know, childhood you were you grew up on the East Coast, right? I did I grab really close to New York City. So I really big suburb but I was really the only person I knew with a disability and you and I always I knew I was disabled and I had many many surgeries I am and you know, I understood what that meant for me, but I don't think I understood what kind of help other people what they thought it meant for me and then even you know my undergrad I I don't remember anyone else being disabled and I went to a relatively small undergrad although not tiny and so when I moved

05:55 Tucson for graduate school, you know my head almost exploded because there was told me his abilities everywhere that I couldn't avoid that when I had to confront whatever my own kind of issues were but I mean even being from the east coast and being you know, New York and I demand a grand Pittsburgh really large places. I never really had to reflect on what disability Mentor because there wasn't anyone else. It was just me what kind of a good student in a vacuum and you know, I grew up in a really small town in Iowa and switches little different than what you're saying. And of course there was one other there was one other woman there and I believe she had polio and actually I she she I don't have polio but I think sometimes people think I do cuz it it sort of looks like it and she walked with full-length braces and crutches which I did and she was older than me. She's probably

06:55 5 years older but I remember avoiding her like the plague because when I would look at her I did not see me, right and so I remember always doing all sorts of really now in hindsight kind of stupid things to make sure people didn't equate me with her. And so I think that I don't know I'm laughing because it reminds me of all the time. I spent trying to be sort of incredible versus didn't want to be pathetic obviously and I always remember feeling like it that those were the only two choices so I remember doing a lot of things because I would look at her and see her is kind of pathetic even though I'm sure she's a wonderful person. I never got them. So I remember spending a lot of time. Do you know really like an inordinate amount of time doing kind of silly things? But of course, that was my that

07:55 What's my image growing up, but I was pretty incredible and so I sorta got off on them, but it was really because I was kind of in isolation two and then so I thought well that's better right. I have similar memories not kind of with another person because I really don't remember you interacting with anyone else who is disabled but going out of my way to not use a combination. So walking up the stairs when I can I use a wheelchair but I'm able to walk up the stairs. So I would do that. So as not to you the left or go around the back of the building and just whatever. I mean, it's always kind of still at grapple with what I can do and what I should have to do and but even you know as a child growing up, I mean, I would just never never want to be treated any differently. So even if it was so much easier or no one thought anything of it like I thought I internalize everything so much as you know.

08:55 You should walk up the stairs and I'll be any different. You know what it really that was probably more of us seeing or a spectacle then memories of just whatever that kind of prevalent notion of disability was I would reject it at all costs, you know any even if it was at my own expense. Yeah, you know, I was thinking to growing up. You know, when I first sort of thought cash I got something going on here, you know because I really was with a family who I thought was, you know, they were really creative and Innovative and I remember doing never feeling that left out when I couldn't ride a bike. My dad said, okay, you shall have a horse right? I don't work and I remember him putting big hockey skates on over my shoes and putting little nails in my crutches so that I could

09:55 Ice skate. I mean we just did that all the time and but but when it really started feeling weird for me was when boys became an issue and it was like all of a sudden it was like who this this is not okay, and I had friends as boys who are friends. And in fact, I was pretty well like I was going and I was included in thing, but when it got to that point where who likes who and then it was very clear to me what was going on that was hard but I agree and I think you know when I remember starting kind of dating and in high school, so maybe like 13 or 14 years old in high school. I never had any problems, you know, we night I was also really outgoing and I went to a freestyle school. So we were all friends and you know, and I'm still out going I still feel like I have a lot of friends but you know, I did enough a lot in high school, you know, I never really felt like that was an issue.

10:55 But when I started to when I kind of moved away and I went to college and went to graduate school. That's when I kind of stuffing and I think that was because I was really trying to figure out what was going on for me with disability and then body image and self-esteem because you know, I went to my school for middle school and high school and it was relatively small and was really comfortable and then I went to college and I had a great experience in college and you know had leadership positions and you know did lots of great stuff but dating was not one of the things that I didn't college and probably until really recently haven't explored that you know, I think I kind of dived into academics and work and that's fulfilling but you know, it was when I really started to think there's something I need to work through I kind of I'm sure people sense that you know that you're not comfortable with it happened. So yeah, I remember in high school. I was just I was the Buddy.

11:55 Mean, I'm probably set it up that way too cuz I was so worried about not being what I thought I wanted to be some of these friends who are boys. So I just going to set it up to be sort of the intellectual good time go over to Sue's house have a beer and talk about your date. You know, I don't know it was so I remember being in a plane that kind of parole. So then in college I had to really work then turn that around right will safer. You know, you're not vulnerable if you can assume the friend Roland. Yeah when I totally get that because then those are your expectations and you can't get hurt. So no one can reject you or I liked me. But yeah, I think I remember a conversation with my mom wants when we saw an attractive guy in a wheelchair but this is maybe 10 years ago. And of course I didn't even look at this person because that I mean I would have just avoided him at all costs and

12:55 Where we were at the supermarket or something and she said did you see that guy and how good-looking he was and I said

13:04 Of course not and then she said, you know look how you're you're doing exactly what you don't want people to do to you you're discounting this person because he's in a wheelchair and that's you know, that's what you don't want people to do to you that that you don't want people to do anyone, you know, some any sort of prejudice or discrimination and I just I said, yep, that's what I'm doing. And then she said would you ever date anyone in a wheelchair and I was like, I know it would just be so hard, you know, and I don't think the same way about that anymore and I think there's a lot of kind of comment experiences that you know, you can share I think that might be easier but you know, I mean that was the polar opposite then that's probably in college, you know, but just thinking like not only what I didn't even look at this guy, but he couldn't be good looking and I mean I probably didn't think about myself. You know, I'm looking at myself like I couldn't be attractive or someone's girlfriend because I wasn't ready to ride like that, but how cool if your mom and I can't even imagine my mother.

14:04 Saying anything like that. That's pretty perceptive with your family. You know, what just my family made it work, you know, whatever I can ride a bike. So I had scooters and roller racers and what and whatever electric cars. I mean so from a very young age, you know, man, we just made it work. But but yes she would and she does continue to challenge me and I think what she couldn't ever really wrap her mind around and she was looking at me with that. I was so interested in social justice, you know and anti-racism anti-homophobia and I think that came from a place where I could be sensitive empathetic but I wasn't ready to think about disability through that lens and so she would kind of always say but do you see that the in congruence between how you view the world and then when you hone in on disability if I put these walls go out, you know, and I think we we continue to have those conversations and I remember at the end of my master's program. I applied to a doctoral program in history, and I didn't go but

15:04 Thinking about social history on disability and really for the first time using kind of the language of social justice to look at disability. So oppression and you know kind of dumb and marginalized and just reading the application to my parents over the phone cuz I wanted there and put on it and bursting into tears and just crying because that was the first time I really I could see disability the same way as our racism and homophobia and let you know I just really powerful because I as much as I got it I never really internalized it right and then I never really, you know, you don't want to be oppressed. You know, you don't want to be marginalized but when I when I just put the the language together with the experience, it was really really painful. But what about how old were you and that probably 23? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, cuz it's just interesting cuz when I think about how I came to just started work in disability, but also be more social was

16:03 Well, I mean it was a little later than 23 but at when I remember getting there in Al actually was was kind of early to mid-twenties and it really was that I had been so involved again 30 years younger than you but I was so involved it was you know late 60s early 70s and I got I was very political in college and but it was interesting Lee bury political women's rights movement and civil rights, but again never even considered the disability angle does again kind of avoiding it and I remember when I was in college, I went to an all-women's college and it was a Catholic college and I was not a strong Catholic but I was Catholic I was raised Catholic but I met this group of nuns who were faculty there that were really left of center.

17:03 And Progressive active and fit right in kind of where I was at politically know so much identity wise but politically and so in my immature naive will have to I should join the convent and I'll be out live with this with these group of progressive active women will do good work and I won't even have to pay rent. And also I think underneath it was I get home to deal with this male issue right? I'm going to really just do my intellectual activist get and so I did I joined the contact and when that didn't work because I wasn't very religious and it didn't work out. So well, it was a result of that and working in politics and not really wanting I was working Washington DC for a while when they realize that that wasn't exactly what I wanted. It was interesting how

18:03 Then my personal identity as it was developing and being clear about who I'm a disabled woman and blah blah blah that then I moved into that that kind of area professionally, but then it still took a few more years for it to be personal right? You know what I mean? So I say I was in some ways like you I was doing it but there was there was a distant right who it and and I remember how I how I got involved in it personally was being kind of like what you're saying with the tennis I agree and I thought, you know, I wanted to work in higher ed because really my kind of best experiences were in the classroom. And I think I was always an overachiever and always a really good student again to try to disprove anything people would have ever thought about disabled people that I was smart. And you know, I could I was really capable.

19:03 You don't want to do well in the classroom trying to just you know, I was going to be successful and that was that was where I was going to be 6 and then, you know never really thinking about disability when I was a student union in the role of student because I was so good at being a student, you know, and then you know in college I just thought I should I should stay here. You know, I should stay in an environment like this where people are more educated there more kind of aware disabilities less of an issue and then I went to higher ed, which I love higher ed, but I didn't work and disability resources until pretty recently but you know, I kind of always infused disability or at least diversity and social justice into my work because I thought this is where no one can touch me here like no one can tell me differently about disability because I'm like the only one

20:03 If I just wasn't it never entered my Consciousness to be social with a disability Community or enter until we started playing tennis, which was not that long ago in years ago. But that's where I'm certainly we became closer then and then I got connected we got connected to other people, you know, whether wheelchair tennis players and then it was just like I'm always the stove rapid, you know that I was like, yeah comfortable. Yeah. Yeah. I think you had done Sports. I'm like, you know, I'd never done that because I was a girl and I was a girl with disability. So I didn't do Sports. I did music and drama, you know, whatever it was. That was my outlet, but I'm just learning about more about sports in general. I mean what it the benefits to your kind of self-esteem and you know, lots of things disability. That's exactly what I need it. Yeah. Yeah.

21:03 Prada sport II tended to be a more outdoor kind of person and I have three brothers. So I was always out but not it wasn't competitive and I think it took for me. It was when I got involved with other disabled athletes and realized how competitive I could be and what an athlete I was and that it was I who this is so cool. And then there were some different sports book for me primarily when I was about your age it was skiing downhill skiing and and and got involved with a whole community of disabled athletes in the Denver Colorado area and it was it was a great time wonderful time. Yeah, skiing and hanging out. I I literally moved up to the mountains for a couple of years and so lift tickets on Tuesdays and hang out with with all of these my disabled friend.

22:03 And that was it was really quite a time are the time. So when you and I'm just kind of curious now that you you would, you know ban on campus for a few years more than a few but and new people or at least it's seen some of us from a distance then as you got to hang out with us, and I don't just mean me but there's some other athletes too late. I don't know. I mean what what's that been like it's been really I mean, it's just been great, you know a minute. I really feel like I always joke around and say tennis change my life really dead. You know, when I was at the same time, I was you know doing my research and on disability identity and that was you know for filling, you know, as well, but then it was like kind of finishing a doctoral research on disability and then starting wheelchair tennis. I mean like a completely different person but you know before by was involved with tennis and you know more comfortable

22:58 I mean, I hardly remember seeing anybody with in wheelchairs or with disabilities. And now you know, I have I have a friend now that we play tennis with who remembers seeing me and kind of interacting with me and kind of a cursory superficial level just waving or saying hey and he confronted me on this a couple of months ago and said you remember completely ignoring me several years ago. And I said I have no recollection of that. I don't remember running into him. I don't remember seeing him because it just I was not at a place where I could recognize him, you know, and no I would say that we're friends now, but you might think with tennis we're talking about athletes, you know, when people I would consider like really good looking hot athletes so, you know, and and and then if I could see them like that I could see myself like that. I think that was a huge kind of trans transformation for me and just you know, 10 of the way you like that mirror, you know, you think about identity as a mirror and so if I can identify with you and those are positive things then

23:58 Reflects on me but you know so I can just different. It's just a very different way that I see myself and I seen disability and other people with disabilities, but it was yeah, I mean before 10 is really just kind of getting my feet wet in the disability community of professionally, but I've never really internalized her identify personally with anything and I will say even at my age the tennis has been incredible cuz you and I kind of started about I started a few months ahead of you, but it was just so cool for for you to want to be to play cuz I don't know when I since we've connected I think I had mentioned this. It's like wow this other strong smart disabled woman, you know somebody I would want to you know, hang out with and also something you know that you I'm learning a lot from you as even though I know I'm older and

24:58 I know but have learned a lot and just really value that relationship. So to think who now we can like

25:08 Not just be colleagues, but do something together kind of socially and then of course the sport it's like it's just I don't know. I've just been real happy me to take back, you know, cuz you had said let's play tennis and I think that was last winter and then I hit the first thing I thought was like, oh God. I don't know if I can do this, you know, because I'm not athletic and I was just felt like a lot of pressure to be doing my work but then I thought well, I really really do anything Siri suggested. It's been so great but send me the tennis but then that's led to I don't know other things made even driving to San Diego for the tennis tournament. I was like, you know, yeah and that was a lot of time listening to music and being in the car and getting to know each other they are but then, you know going to this wheelchair tennis tournament, which was a first for me it take for you to write Prieta tennis. Yeah.

26:08 Dentist even the Wednesday night me and I really think as a result of of you and I and Brad and Brian and I we have 30 plus people on the list now just here in Tucson who will come out now and then and play tennis. I know there's a few of us that are kind of diehards, but I don't know I feel pretty good about our effort. You know that it's I mean obviously has been personally satisfying but I think we started created something to it's been kind of fun. I think so too and you know with the Southwest section of the USTA and the people that were kind of networking with and really trying to integrate wheelchair tennis into just all act all tennis activity in Tucson, you know going to Randolph and playing there regularly and getting involved in tournaments like the El Conquistador last month. I mean, I think just that kind of awareness in the representation of wheelchair tennis a sport and wheelchair tennis players as athletes is really important when you said

27:08 No, but when you said I don't know if I should play tennis. I'm not much of an athlete. You really are. Very athletic. You don't see yourself that way now I do I didn't know I feel like in the east coast where I where I grew up like we my family were not very, you know, what you don't we don't exercise or I don't go outside take walks or hikes or anything. So, you know, I just didn't have that. I've always been really competitive and I've always been someone who's wanted to have that kind of outlet and never really found something that worked for me whether or not that was just kind of my personality or my mindset or if it was really disability-related in that, you know, I couldn't really find a sport or you know exercise in like I can't I can't even then my back I can't even do like a push up or I can't wait to do push-ups. I can't do sit-ups. So, you know, what can do yoga can you know something like I never really found anything I wanted to do anything tennis just worked something. I think I can.

28:08 I do and I picked up pretty quickly and I don't like it and you know, cuz like you're incredibly coordinated and thank you, you know, I mean just never had that out that I wanted to but I always think you know, what it what would I want to do? Like when I want to be on a team what I wanted to dance? I have no idea but never really found something that fit in tennis fit. You know, it's funny. Cuz again, I've said this 5 times I'm so much older than you. Let me know if there really wasn't any sport opportunity. So I mean maybe there were in the bigger cities. You know, I was in the fifties sixties and there wasn't anything in Iowa. So, you know, my attitude was I can't do sports right now. I mean I can do this which is you know, a horse. I rode horses and

29:08 Yeah, I do kind of weird things with my brother's baseball or basketball but it wasn't real competitive. So I was 26 years old when I somebody came after me and said you had to learn to ski and I just said I couldn't skate. I have no muscles in my leg from Grand Cascades in this guy looked at me. I don't know his name is how he ran the program at Winter Park you said? Oh no, of course you can all you have to do is do this and I just looked at him. I said, I don't think you quite get it in and it was so funny as I got to know him and then pursued all of his recommendation. He knows more than me about Navy, you know, and that was kind of a cuz I already had I always had prided myself on having a pretty good sense of of what I could do, and I didn't know.

30:08 Sincerely feel like I was a limiting. I felt real Creative Real Innovative, but that was eye-opening than I really didn't know a lot about how much was possible and that was a lesson for me. I can definitely relate I mean, even when when you would said last year that I needed a tennis chair and I just thought no, I don't need another chair. I know it's just so unfamiliar with it, you know, just how to make this work. It just didn't make sense to me being a female with a disability and being an athlete just couldn't wrap my mind around how that would work. And you know, when I grew up in a in a urban place where they're going to the Spina Bifida Association was really active but I never was a part of that and that was how you know from when I was born doctors and therapists physical therapist and occupational therapist. They just kind of warned my family, like don't let her get involved with those things. You don't get her on.

31:08 That track just keep her as normal as possible. I don't get around the track of affiliating with the native of disability and accommodations and special needs just you know, and I mean, I think thin the underlying message is there just ignore it if you know, so do you think if you had if there had been some kind of Middle Ground like wood the Spina Bifida Association had introduced you to sport it's hard to think it's hard to think about that and I know because I was really involved with other things, you know, like I didn't even know that I wanted to do Sports because I was so involved with music and brake lamp bulb. I don't know but I mean it was just those ideas did not make sense your disability and NF letics didn't make sense to me. I don't even up until a few months ago and it was like, you know now thinking about playing tennis in my everyday chairs, like how come you know course not but I just feel almost sad that it was 1970.

32:08 Six easily fit 7576 before I even realize that there were all these sporting opportunities and I know they didn't start in 75 or 76, right? You know it is so now, you know, I think of what we do in terms of kind of trying to get sport introduced into the community and into you know, making an earlier impact on younger students. And again, not that I'm such a jock but I really do see the value of sport even just personally for fitness and health, you know, I mean, it's a fun way to be active and to take better care of yourself and I think that you know what just play with anyone that's important. But if you can find something that you like and that you're good at then it makes bad a lot better. So while we're really we're really obsessed, aren't we?

33:08 I had to have maybe three. I know it's been really you really has changed my life. I think well, I would say it's it's been real meaningful to me too, but also getting to know you and I and hanging with you is really quite cool guess I agree. Thank you. You're welcome.

33:35 I couldn't think of anything else to say and I like.