We’re excited to continue our new series, “Pioneers of the Pitch,” where we celebrate the groundbreaking athletes, administrators, coaches, referees and fans who’ve left their mark on rugby in the USA. Each installment takes you on a journey through the inspiring stories of rising stars and seasoned legends, both on and off the field. Join us as we shine a light on these exceptional individuals and uncover their tales of dedication, passion, and triumph.
In the world of sports, the journey from childhood enthusiasm to Olympic glory is often filled with twists, turns, and unexpected pivots. For Ariana Ramsey, a name synonymous with athleticism and determination, the path to becoming a rugby Olympian began with an unexpected sport – competitive cheerleading.
At the age of 10, Ariana took her first steps into the world of sports as a competitive cheerleader. The foundations laid by cheer, tumbling, and gymnastics provided her with the remarkable ability to control her body, a skill that would prove invaluable in her later pursuits. “Flipping teaches you how to be in complete control of your body,” she shares. “Cheerleading was dynamic, allowing me to strengthen every part of my body through tumbling, stunts, and dance.”
Ariana’s journey into rugby began with a chance encounter during her high school days. The allure of a new challenge led her and her best friend to a club team stand set up at their school. The rest, as they say, is history. From flipping on the cheer mat to making tackles on the rugby field, Ariana’s transition was marked by a deep determination to excel.
As a member of Team USA, Ariana’s training regimen is nothing short of rigorous. She hits the gym on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays, maintaining her physical prowess. Her mental fitness is equally crucial, and she leans on a sports psychologist to navigate mental blocks. Meditation and learning to embrace stillness play key roles in her mental well-being strategy.
When it comes to competition, Ariana doesn’t leave anything to chance. “A good night’s sleep, meditation on game day morning and making sure I have a plan against the current competition before going into any game,” she reveals, underlining her meticulous approach to performing at her best.
However, the path to success isn’t without its hurdles. Ariana faced her biggest challenge when an ACL tear threatened her Olympic dreams. The grueling recovery process tested her patience and resolve. “As much as I wanted to rush back to my season, I stayed patient, and it paid off tremendously,” she says, a testament to her unwavering spirit.
What’s even more remarkable is that Ariana encountered this obstacle while coping with a deeply personal loss. In January 2020, her world was shaken by the passing of her father. This devastating event occurred just a year before the Olympics, making it an incredibly trying time for Ariana.
She reflects on this period, saying, “I also didn’t mention that my dad passed away the year before the Olympics in Jan 2020. That was something I had to overcome and try to stay present throughout the Olympic year. I think it actually made me more passionate to want to succeed because I wanted to do it for him.” Ariana’s resilience in the face of adversity, both on and off the field, is a testament to her unwavering determination.
One of Ariana’s most memorable moments came when she learned she had made the Olympic team. Years of hard work and dedication had paid off, solidifying her belief in the correlation between effort and success. Balancing her athletic pursuits with family, college, and training has been a delicate act, but Ariana’s strategy of keeping her family engaged and pursuing side hustles for financial stability showcases her resourcefulness and commitment.
Looking beyond her athletic career, Ariana aspires to enter the finance world. Her goal is to educate people about investing for retirement, ensuring financial security in the long run. This dedication to financial literacy mirrors her commitment to sports excellence, highlighting her holistic approach to life.
As Ariana continues her journey, she draws inspiration from unlikely sources. If she could be any cartoon character, she would choose the girl version of Timmy Turner from “The Fairly OddParents.” Why? “He could wish for anything at any time from his godparents,” she chuckles, revealing her playful side.
From flips to tackles, Ariana Ramsey’s journey exemplifies the power of determination and versatility. As she continues to shine on the rugby field and prepares for the future beyond sports, her story reminds us that every twist and turn in life can lead to unexpected victories.