“When women support women- we ALL win.”
Our featured athlete this week is Angel City Derby Girls skater- Athena Harper or Stubborn PUP as she’s known to teammates and coaches.
Pup, who’s been skating for 4 years, is captain of her team (the Road Ragers) and is in charge of Safety for the entire Angel City organization. Despite many injury setbacks including a torn miniscus, minor concusions, rolled ankles and other bumps and bruises, she’s refused to allow those injuries to keep her from playing the sport she loves. If anything, learning to recover from those injuries has taught her how to be more in tune with her body, understand it’s limitations, and use that knowledge to keep others safe in this high contact sport.
What is your superpower?
My heart. I may not always know the right words to say in a moment but I always try my best to be an ear to talk to and show my support in any fashion in derby and in real life.
What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Finally learning to be smart about my body and my injuries. I've played basketball for 2 years, rugby for 2 years and roller derby for going on 4 years now. Each sport has dealt me similar injuries and it wasn't until derby, and AMAZING friends & coaches, that I started to actually listen to my body more. Don't get me wrong... it's still a work in progress, but I'm definitely more in tune with how far I can go and knowing when to pull back.
Given all the injuries you’ve had, would advice/encouragement would you give to other athletes coming back from an injury?
The 2 biggest things, it’s hard as it seems- take your time coming back to your sport and focus on what you need. If you’re involved in a team sport, continue to interact/stay in contact with your team (volunteer to help out with certain activites, be a support to them), because injuries not only take a physical toll but they take an emotional toll aswell. For myself personally- i’m motivated by my team and staying involved with them. For athletes involved in a solitary sport- set a series of short term goals to help get back onto the larger scale. Also, have this written out and visible for yourself and get family and friends involved and keeping your encouraged. You don’t realise how supportive people want to be until you reach out to them.
What's your biggest challenge/goal right now?
This one kinda goes back to my biggest accomplishment of learning to be smart about my body. I want to not necessarily lose weight but to tone my body and muscles so that I don't get injured anymore. (KNOCK ON WOOD! lol) Recovering from injuries is hard and it definitely takes a toll every time. (Although going through my own recoveries, I understand the type of mental and emotional toll it takes and it's given me another way to support my teammates that are currently injured.)
How can the Superfit Hero community support you?
Just knowing that there are other amazing and strong women out there that don't share the media's notion of what a "perfect" body should look like is fantastic! And the fact that they believe in themselves and want to share that with others in great. There are some people in my life that don't realize how amazing and strong and beautiful they are. And the Superfit Hero community gives me a great means of sharing that with those people!
Photo credit: Mandy Stoller