I love to train because of the personal goals that I am able to reach. There’s a certain feeling that you get, being able to see the differences and changes in your body when you put the proper effort forward. The beginning of my journey in athletics started in high school with football and towards the end of my senior year I really fell in love with fitness. I was blessed with the opportunity to play football in college at William Patterson in New Jersey. Now that I have graduated, I am looking forward to progressing in my fitness career. One thing I love about fitness is that it gives me the opportunity to help people. What defines an athlete to me is someone who understands that the body is a piece of art and you are the one who has control. You truly get what you put in.
-Malcolm Todd, Dover, NJ
I have been competing in sports ever since I was a kid. I ran track and field until my senior year of college. When it was done, I was happy with the break but soon felt unhappy. I would train but didn’t know why. I needed a goal. I needed something to give me a reason. I wanted to put my work on display. A good friend of mine, who is a body builder, encouraged me to try it and gave me the foundation I needed. With the support from my husband and twin sister, I finally said “Ok, I’ll try it.” I loved it. It drives me insane that there is so little in life that I can control. But this was a sport where I had all the control. It’s not a team sport. I didn’t have anyone telling me where to be or when to be somewhere. This was all me. I sacrificed the time, sleep, family time and social gatherings. Whatever I brought to the stage was a direct reflection of my dedication. I also think this defines a true athlete, someone who is willing to sacrifice some of life’s pleasures to get more or to be better. And they don’t only do it just to be better. They LOVE it. They crave it. It becomes a habit and becomes a part of them.
-Shannon Vanderlip, Shillington, PA
When I started rock climbing five years ago, it was a part of a bigger journey to challenge my fears and insecurities. Over time it’s become much more than a way to push my limits. It has also become an outlet for creative energy, a way to interact with and be inspired by nature, and a way to connect with other people. Climbing is a lifestyle sport. There exists within it an inspiring community of individuals who train together, travel together, and learn together. It is also a very personal and individual sport, where your mental fitness and creativity are just as important as your physical fitness. Whether it’s through managing fear while dangling from the edge of a cliff, staying focused in a competition, or being disciplined with training, climbing has taught me to be present, and to live in a place of mindfulness. This lesson is applicable to every aspect of my life. Climbing has also brought me to have a very healthy relationship with my body. If you ask a lot of your body, you have to be good to it, and through learning how to be good to my body I‘ve learned to love it. I appreciate the pure functionality of it. I love my feet and legs because they allow me to walk and the muscles in my back and arms because they make it possible for me to climb. The way I look is merely a happy by-product of doing what I love.
-Jocelyn Danna, Pattenburg, NJ
I’ve been a triathlete for the past four years. I began after competing in my 36th career marathon in Philadelphia. A buddy of mine there had suggested it to me when I told him that I ride a bicylce as part of my cross training for my marathons. After watching a bunch of YouTube videos, and reading up on the sport of triathlon, I made the decision to go through with it. I used to be a competitive swimmer a long time ago, but I had to learn how to retrain my body to be able to do that all over again. It took me about six weeks in the pool to achieve that. I competed in my first triathlon in 2012, and after that I fell in love with the whole sport because of the challenge in three different categories as opposed to the one in running. I love the variety as well. It’s never a dull moment in any part of a triathlon. The excitement is always there. I’ve competed in 11 career triathlons now, ranging in all distances from a sprint to a full Ironman distance of 140.6 miles which I did in 2015 in Lake Placid. The word “athlete” to me means, a person who chooses to compete in a sport where they strive to reach a goal of personal achievement.
-Mike McGraw, Phillipsburg, NJ
You have to train like an athlete and look like an athlete to be a pro wrestler. After training, you don’t ever stop learning, practicing basics in the ring, or studying matches and promos. We are stuntmen, actors and improv all in one. We don’t get 2nd takes or 2nd chances. My first match I ever saw was Undertaker vs. Yokozuna in a casket match. I was hooked. I couldn’t stop watching. Kekoa was a huge influence on me. We used to wreck his mom’s couch and pillows having wrestling matches. We even had shows and our friends from school would watch. In 2006 I decided there was nothing else I wanted to do but be a professional wrestler. I had my family going nuts saying, “You can’t be a pro wrestler, that’s not realistic!” Well, I’ve gotten to do numerous things. I’ve wrestled big names, met legends, and have awesome friends that I’ve known for ten plus years.
-Chad Flowers, Easton PA
I grew up watching wrestling. My dad put me in front of the television when I was 3 years old and I’ve been addicted ever since. Chad and I grew up together and would watch WWE every chance we got. There wasn’t anything else we wanted to do. I started training when I was a senior in high school, which was 2006. 10 years later, I’ve wrestled for Ring of Honor, toured overseas, and even wrestled on WWE. It’s been one hell of a ride.
I love the adrenaline I get, being in front of crowds. Just as amazing is when little kids tell me I am their favorite wrestler and they want to grow up and be like me, it’s unreal. I love this sport. I’m so fortunate because of it.
An athlete to me is someone who understands our job is never over. We need to be ready at any given point of time. We diet, we train, we study, we sleep, we wake up and do it all again.
-Kekoa Mana, Bethlehem, PA
I lost my father at an early age and after a difficult time in my life focused on school athletics and lifting weights. Later, at 17 years old, I overcame a spinal fusion surgery and went on to college athletics. I am constantly driven by the pursuit of pushing my own limits. I have been living a healthy vegan lifestyle for the past eight years. I have decided to compete in my first bodybuilding competition because I have always found these women empowering and beautiful and not only strong on the outside but strong on the inside as well. Life is ever evolving and you can truly overcome any obstacle.
-Jenny Klock, Skippack, PA
The Elucidator asks women of the Two Rivers Roller Derby team in Bethlehem, PA:
“Why did you choose to pursue the sport of roller derby?”
“I was recovering from an abusive relationship.”
-Karen Luzzi, “Felony Arrow,”
“I’m connected to skates. I’ve been skating since I was a little girl.”
-Christine Rojas, “Divine Wreckage,”
second from left.
“I was depressed, adrift and I wanted a challenge in a welcome, structured environment.”
-Kate Santee, “Bananas,”
third from left.
“To show I have more power over my body than Lyme Disease.”
-Andeana Gonzales, “Queen Guilloteen,”
third from right.
“I lost my twin babies.”
-Danielle Tampier, “Collateral Damage,”
second from right.
“It was a very lonely Valentine’s Day.”
-Geneva Soule, “Soule Spankin,”