Guest blog post by Jaimie Bougie.
I remember when I first heard about SoCal athlete Jamie Hagiya; I was writing articles for the CrossFit Games on any SoCal "Dark Horses" that may be galloping onto the scene for the 2013 season. My boss, Kenni, called me up to ask if I wanted to do a story on some unknown female athlete up in L.A. who had an 'awesome story' to tell - and of course I said yes!
I immediately became a big fan of Jamie's after interviewing her for the story Trading Basketball for Wallballs, and was so proud of her 5th place finish at the 2013 SoCal Regional. Here is her story. Jamie grew up playing basketball since the age of 4 in the Japanese American Leagues in the Los Angeles area and continued throughout high school. With her eye set on playing in college, she was often met with people telling her that she was "too short" or "not good enough or big enough to play Division 1 Basketball". She turned a cheek to the naysayers, and fed off her burning desire to work her butt off - and earned a full Basketball scholarship to USC.
Growing up, Jamie had a negative view of her body because she didn't have the "pin thin" model look and was always bigger, stronger and stockier than most of her female peers. Her height (a tall 5'3) and ethnicity (Asian-American) were also considered challenges for her in the basketball world. And all of this is why she has found a loving home in the CrossFit world. "I finally feel like I've found a sport that is perfect for me. CrossFit has made me more comfortable in my own skin, knowing that the sport embraces strong, beautiful and fit women. It's very empowering!"
Keep an eye on Jamie Hagiya as she makes a run for the podium at Regionals this coming 2014 CrossFit Open season!
Jaimie B: Have you always had a competitive nature?
Jamie H: Yes! I grew up playing almost every sport imaginable. Basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis, golf, swimming, judo, ice skating. But I love the thrill and feeling of competition - it's in my blood.
Jaimie B: How has your heritage and your family's past shaped you as a competitor?
Jamie H: Being of Japanese American descent, it has definitely shaped the athlete and person I am today. I feel there's so many valuable lessons I've learned from my great grandparents and grandparents (along with other Issei and Nisei/1st and 2nd generation Japanese Americans) who lived the harsh reality of internment camps during WWII. My grandparents had to leave everything behind in LA; homes, schools, businesses, friends, and neighborhoods to pack a bag and be sent off to live in barracks in Wyoming, Arkansas and other various places. My grandpa and his family were actually placed and forced to live in the Santa Anita horse stables until the barracks were built and decided which one they would be sent to. Despite all the adversity, I've never once heard my grandparents complain or feel sorry for themselves. They worked hard, came back to LA, earned everything back from the lifestyle they once had or knew, and excelled beyond that. People of that generation are FIGHTERS! I honestly believe that's where I get my "Go getter/Never quit" mentality. Another huge lesson I've learned from my Japanese American heritage is humility. There's a Japanese saying that my dad has taught me, "The nail that sticks up gets hammered down" which essentially means everyone is equal and no one person is better than the other. I feel that this has always kept me humble and hungry to work hard towards my goals.
Jaimie B: You've faced obstacles throughout your sports career, specifically with your height, ethnicity and people basically telling you that you'll never make it in the college sports scene. How did you push through these obstacles to keep on going?
Jamie H: No matter what anyone said or thought, I honestly believed in myself and knew I could make it. I believe the mental part of the game for any sport is just as important, if not more, than the physical. I saw and envisioned myself playing basketball in college and those positive thoughts along with a lot of hard work, effort and dedication pushed me through to achieve my dream and goal.
Jaimie B: You've recently opened your own gym - congrats on that, by the way! So what are you goals with helping others compete?
Jamie H: Yes, Torrance Fit Lab Powered by Strontium CrossFit and I'm loving every minute of it! I would love to help others compete and reach their full potential in CrossFit. Most importantly, my goal is get everyone who walks through our doors an experience of fun, family/community, a sense of belonging, and physical and mental self belief and confidence. I always tell people - Dream big, work hard, and believe in yourself and with those 3 things, anything is possible.