Face of the Race: Jamie Kozma

Sports

CHAMPAIGN — What tests your endurance, happens on a track and involves a whole bunch of sweaty people? At the marathon, the answer might seem obvious, but this Face of the Race earned her stripes off the track and in the rink.

“I was extremely clumsy and extremely weak. I was always the last kid in PE class. I was always the last picked for every team. So no, I’ve never considered myself an athlete.”

“And, now you do?”

“Yeah, actually.”

You can tell, even from the sidelines of a roller derby scrimmage, this is one tough sport. Jamie Kozma is one tough competitor.

“You can hit people with your side, with your shoulder, with your butt.”

She says roller derby taught her she’s strong, she is athletic.

“It’s a huge victory for myself definitely.”

It’s a rush she doesn’t want to power down from.

“I didn’t really know how to work out. How do you work out? I didn’t know. This gave me some things to do.”

She can even go on a run.

“This is actually kind of boring, but I get a little jog in, if it’s raining or it’s really freezing.”

Not long ago, Kozma could hardly finish a mile. Now, her unique workout plan has her primed for the 10-K.

“It increased my overall fitness level to the point where I could run and now I actually enjoy running. People are like, ‘Oh, I couldn’t do that,’ and I’m like, ‘Sure you can. Just do a little more every day.'”

She says derby especially built up her endurance, but not necessarily the right leg muscles.

“Roller skating and roller derby is really quad dominant. You can see how that motion uses the sides quite a bit, whereas, when you’re running, which I can do on my toe stops, You’re coming straight forward. It’s a different set of muscles that you’re using.”

But, coming from someone who also does CrossFit, Tai-Chi and Zumba, it’s all about flexing new muscles.

“Every single thing that I do makes me feel better mentally and physically.”

As she adds 10-K competitor to her fitness resume, she’s proving, it’s never too late to hit the ground running.

“I wanted to be involved in sports in grade school and high school, but it just felt completely inaccessible to me. I kind of wanted to see if I could. I just wanted to see if I could do it. It turns out, I can.”

Jamie has a message for other girls going through and awkward, nonathletic phase: You will survive it and don’t let it stop you from trying something new.   

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