Today athletes are faced with challenges both on and off the field. Spurred by social media there is more noise than ever and the youth athletes of today are faced with comparisons at every turn. Rising above the noise, the most confident athletes all have one thing in common - they forge their own path to greatness.
Fueling this confidence and reminding young athletes that the only competition that matters is the one in the mirror, Under Armour’s Athlete No One Saw Coming campaign launched this September. As part of the campaign, the UA Athlete No One Saw Coming Grant was created to provide athletes between the ages of 14 and 17 with resources to improve their performance on their individual journeys to compete. The grand prize for ten lucky winners included a $5,000 grant and UA gear for a year and an in-person experience at UA HQ.
“Under Armour has always been dedicated to fostering the next generation of athletes. From our grassroots efforts all the way up to our global brand campaigns, it’s crucial that we stay connected to athletes that will be pushing the industry forward and challenging brands like UA to continue to provide them with the performance solutions they need on and off the playing field.”
- Trey Evans, Director of Sports Marketing, Americas Teams Sports
On November 5, UA welcomed winners from all over the country and across all different sports to Baltimore. To kick off the day-long experience, winners were welcomed by the UA team that brought The Athlete No One Saw Coming campaign to life - getting a behind the scenes look at the mission and production behind the global initiative. From there, a panel discussion with the UA product team provided a hands-on opportunity for each athlete to learn how UA brings to life the products that empower those who strive for more and later, a Q&A session with UA Mission Run Baltimore 800m team - including Charlene Lipsey, Vincent Crisp, Edose Ibadin, and Danae Rivers - provided a chance to hear from the professionals how they stay motivated in the face of comparison.
“During the athlete panel, one of the runners said, ‘Embrace the journey and love the process.’ That was really powerful and I will use it every practice or camp I go to.”
- Kasey Murray, UA Athlete No One Saw Coming Grant Winner
To close out the day, winners headed to the state-of-the-art UA Performance Center. In the same space where some of Under Armour’s top athletes train, the winners underwent an athletic assessment led by UA Training Advisor and Human Performance teammate, Mark Fitzgerald. This customized experience was created to provide the winning athletes with a personalized athletic assessment, a boot-camp style workout and recovery session that mimics what many of the athletes who train with UA also receive in order to give them a leg up on their competition back home.
“This opportunity is one in a lifetime. To be in rooms that household names have been in made me believe that one day I could be that household name kids look up to.”
- MaCayla Moody, UA Athlete No One Saw Coming Grant Winner
To check out the full roster of the ten Athlete No One Saw Coming winners, please see below. You can also learn more about UA’s commitment to creating more Access to Sport through efforts like these HERE.
“Running is about having your heart be in it, about cheering with your soul,” says Arwa. Her Cross Country career has shown her that she’s truly above comparison, even when her competition is running alongside her. “The outside influences don't matter when you're both exhausted and trying to hit your goal.”
“Football is everything. My daily life dream all rolled into one,” Cameron says of his sport. Since his first day on the field, Cameron Jennings had his sights set on quarterback, and had to overcome coach after coach telling him he didn’t fit the QB mold to successfully play the position today. “Nothing anyone says I can’t do matters. I know what’s in me.”
Casey has a passion for athletics, but her hearing loss made many sports difficult to fully engage in. Until she found volleyball. “Anytime I do something right on the court, it means to me that I overcame each time people underestimated me,” Casey says. Now she sets out to prove that she’s beyond comparison at each practice and game.
A key player in multiple sports, Karsyn is used to breaking records and defying expectations—particularly on the football field. “There is no better feeling to see all of the young female athletes at my games amazed that a female is playing.”
From an early age, La Terra realized she didn’t look like her teammates in softball. With grace and without comparison, La Terra has worked tirelessly to succeed on and off the field. She hopes to “show the world that no matter where you come from, no matter your circumstances, [focus on yourself] and the rest will follow.”
After suffering a significant medical setback, doctors thought MaCayla would never wrestle again, much less compete at the state tournament. She defied the odds and after two years, she returned to Georgia’s statewide competition and placed in the top eight. “Sport, to me, is an activity to challenge yourself and that's what I do every single day.”
Milagros, or Mimi, knows that being the athlete no one saw coming is about focusing on your own game over anything else. As the first one at the gym in the morning and the last one on the court after practice, she’s singularly devoted to being her best—and it shows in her progress.
Due to differences in Moses’ physicality and learning style, he’s seen people count him out too soon. But now that the sophomore holds a top 5 record for football sacks in Maryland and has a place on the MLB Junior National Scout team, he’s impossible to ignore. “No, you won't see me coming, but you will know me when I get there, and the games will not be the same,” Moses says.
Persistence is the driving force behind Theo’s rowing accomplishments. Despite the water consistently damaging his cochlear implants, he returns to each practice and competition with renewed vigor and dedication. Theo sees a new side of crew through the distinct challenges he faces and the creativity he uses to conquer them each time.
A star in wheelchair rugby and other adaptive sports, Zion has aspirations for Paralympic fame. “The world doesn't see me coming. They're not even looking,” he says, detailing the double standards surrounding adaptive sports. Once Zion has reached his ultimate goal, he plans to be a household name.