Every athlete has a story; a reason why they are the way they are. Our stories are a combination of things we have gone through in the past and the constant ideas we believe about our current situation.

There is power in sharing our stories because if one athlete has struggled and overcome that struggle, why can’t you? If there’s an athlete who seems to have it all together and you find out that they really have some of the same doubts you have, maybe you can find a way to believe in yourself just like they did.

These are the stories of athletes who started out just like you did: with goals and dreams, and also, doubts and fears. Click on each image to read the athlete’s full story.

Tiffany Van Soest: Kickboxing

Seeing her there with that endearing smile and arms stretched out for me as I made my way through the crowd melted my body into a puddle of elation and love.

Jeremy Taiwo: Track & Field

My adversity became my opportunity.

Lauren Chamberlain: Softball

I can vividly remember the game that I broke the NCAA Career Home Run Record.

Cassidy Lance: Crossfit

The greatest struggle in my CrossFit career came in 2016 when I didn’t qualify for the CrossFit Games.

Alyson McWherter: Softball

My sophomore year in college I joined the Army ROTC (Reserve officer training corp) at UW.

Samantha Peszek: Gymnastics

I decided I wanted to go to the Olympics when I was 5.

Lovie Jung: Softball

I grew up thinking that if I worked hard enough, I would be successful. This is only part of the puzzle.

James Hubbard: Football

Somewhere along the way adversity put a dent in my shield of courage.

Marti Reed: Softball

When I was a little girl (around 10 years old) my mom took me to a UCLA softball game and I saw a Black shortstop who looked like me, Natasha Watley, and that’s when the seed was planted and my dream was to play softball at UCLA just like her.

Montez Blair: Basketball + Track & Field

I choose to let fear propel me.

Mikey Mathews: Rugby

Playing rugby you have to overcome a lot of difficulties.

Tori Vidales: Softball

I finally realized my playing chances were out the window that year and the only thing left to do was become the best teammate I could.

Reagan Pechy: Soccer

Despite my setbacks, every year I came back stronger.

Collen Kelly: Water Polo

I decided I needed to score at least once.

Sydney Romero: Softball

You have everything to gain and nothing to lose.

Navy slant


We learn through experience
of our own and others.

We’d love to hear your story of how you’ve handled failure in your life – the good and the bad.

Your story might get featured on our Instagram page using your first name only.


Hear from some Defense Club members who have specific stories about Defense Club!