IX AT 50: Resilience lifts Topeka gym owner through adversity

“I have cancer. I have a brain tumor, but that’s not me. It’s not breaking me down. It’s just allowing me to become who I’m supposed to be.”
Published: May. 12, 2022 at 9:36 PM CDT
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June 23, 1972, President Nixon signed Title IX into law, prohibiting sex discrimination in educational institutions that receive federal funding. Title IX has largely been considered the springboard for high school and collegiate women’s sports to get where they are today — but the fight for equality is far from over. Every Thursday night at 10:00 p.m. leading up to the 50th anniversary of the law’s passing, 13 Sports will honor the women who changed the game for girls’ and women’s sports in Kansas.

“IX at 50: The Trailblazers of Women’s Sports in Kansas”

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Holly Torrez’s gym in south Topeka has a fitting name — in more ways than one.

It’s called Resilience Training.

“That’s what resilience is about is being broken down mentally and physically, but establishing a foundation to grow on for better days,” Torrez, who placed second at USA Powerlifting Nationals last year, said.

After being knocked out in an MMA fight in 2016, an MRI revealed Torrez had a brain tumor.

“Last year they said, ‘Okay, you’re free and clear. I was so excited,” she said. “I felt free. I felt, you know, excited, like, ‘Okay, I don’t have anything to worry about.’ And we were good for about six months.”

Doctors diagnosed her with another in January.

“Currently the doctors are seeking different plans to keep me the most comfortable,” she said.

With the weight of that news on her shoulders, Torrez did what she knows best.

She picked up her powerlifting program.

“I got excited looking at my program on those days when it was really hard and I was upset with God. I was able to look at my program and say, ‘Well, I get to do this today,’” she said. “It’s a statement for my own self to know that I’m capable of anything. If I can do this in here, I can do anything, anywhere, ever.”

The weights wait for her, through whatever life brings.

“You can do this. You are worth it. That’s what power lifting has brought to me,” she said. “It’s not just lifting the weights or the number in the bar. It’s a realization that I can do this.”

It’s a feeling of empowerment she hopes to pass on to the athletes who step foot in her gym:

“If there’s anything that I would leave for anybody here on Earth is that you’re not broken. You’re just becoming,” she said. “I have cancer. I have a brain tumor, but that’s not me. It’s not breaking me down. It’s just allowing me to become who I’m supposed to be. But that only happens if you continue to work towards who you’re meant to be.”

You can learn more about Resilience Training and how to sign up for Torrez’s services here. A GoFundMe has been set up to help with her medical expenses.

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