How Rugby Helped Chula Vista Olympic Hopeful Beat Cancer

Jillion Potter said she hopes to guide Team USA Rugby to Olympic Gold by showing them how to never give up

The Summer Olympics in Rio De Janeiro this August will mark the debut of women’s rugby at the games.

The USA Rugby team, which trains in Chula Vista at the Olympic Training Center, recently had its roster updated to 20 players, who are now competing to make the final cut.

The current roster includes Jillion Potter, a veteran and former captain, known for her heavy hitting.

"Our greatest strength is our speed and power," said Potter, who will turn 30 years old this July, making her one of the most tenured players on the squad.

Her impact on the field and experience off of it make her one of team’s leaders.

In September of 2014, doctors diagnosed Potter with stage III Synovial Sarcoma, one of the rarest forms of soft tissue cancer in the world.

The diagnosis put her athletic career on hold.

"Especially after last year and undergoing cancer treatment, you realize sometimes you just have to be ok exploring other options and you can’t be so narrow in everything you try pursue," said Potter.

Cancer forced Potter to reassess her life, but it didn’t take long to realize she wasn’t quite ready for life after rugby.

"I think rugby is one of those things that has given me all the values to overcome something like cancer and to get through it and continue pursuing my dreams,” said Potter.

"It teaches you a lot of life lessons."

Potter lost more than just her hair, she watched her muscle mass decline. The chemotherapy took a toll on her body, but one year after treatment, she is back to the dominant player she once was.

Potter won’t know for several weeks whether she makes the team, but if she does, her story will be one of the great comebacks of the Rio Olympics.

If cancer can't stop her, who knows how many opponents it will take to bring her down.

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