This article originally appeared in the May 2016 issue of SELF.
That Moment When: Paige Selenski
Paige Selenski officially achieved elite-athlete status when she made the under-21 U.S. women’s national field hockey team as a sophomore in high school. But she was simultaneously going through a life-altering hardship: the loss of her mother, Judy, to ovarian cancer. “It was a shock,” says Selenski, 25, who plays forward and is known for her lightning speed. After all, Judy was the one who introduced Selenski to the sport when she was 10. “She did everything she could to watch me play, even when she was really sick at the end,” says Selenski. Her mother passed away just before Selenski’s hockey career picked up and took her to places like China and the Netherlands. “It motivated me and propelled my whole career,” says Selenski, who’s one of 26 national team members vying for a spot on the squad that will compete in Rio. If she makes it, this will be Selenski’s second Olympics. “Losing my mom made me stronger. In a way, I play hockey in her memory.”
Paige Selenski’s Road To Rio:
First: Winning the 2015 Pan Am Games qualified Selenski’s team for Rio.
4: Average number of miles forwards log during a game. Selenski ran track in high school to improve her field speed.
16: Selenski’s age when she made the under-21 U.S. women’s national team (where she played alongside college-age athletes).
Be sure to tune in: the Olympics begin August 5th on NBC.
Top, Laain, $190; LaneCrawford.com. Bottom, $75; NormaKamali.com. Sneakers, $120; Nike.com. Field hockey stick, Gryphon Hockey, $400; Longstreth.com. Styling, Michaela Dosamantes; hair, Dana Boyer for Oribe Hair Care; Makeup, Laura Stiassni at Artlist; Manicure, Yukie Miyakawa at Kate Ryan.