Hopping lifting weights instead of throwing the hammer


Stanford grad Sarah Hopping hasn't thrown the hammer for years, though she's still competing at a high level. Fans of the National Pro Grid League are certainly aware of her multi-faceted abilities.

Hopping, the Cardinal women's recordholder in the hammer throw (219-8), turned her competitive nature into a business and an athletic career.

The NPGL has nothing to do with Cross Fitness, though there are elements integrated into the GRID's varied formats. A majority of the NPGL athletes are involved in cross training.

Hopping, with her husband, owns and operates the Arena Ready Cross Fit in the Potrero Hill area of San Francisco. She's also had a career in financing.

"I've always loved sports and exercising and I feel fortunate to be doing this," Hopping said after the San Francisco Fire won nine of 11 races to beat the Los Angeles Reign, 22-13, on Saturday night at the Alameda County Fairgrounds in Pleasanton to finish the regular season undefeated.

"It's awesome that I don't have to retire yet," she added. "This is absolutely a dream come true to be able to compete with this team."

The Fire advances into the Western Conference final, meeting the Phoenix Rise at the Anaheim Convention Center on Sept. 16, with the chance to play for the 'Pinnacle Trophy' four days later.

A GRID match consists of 11 distinctive races that test teamwork, strength, agility and stamina. There is a time limit for each race and points just for finishing. If you've seen a match live, you'd understand how hard it might be to complete a race you've lost.

The NPGL is in its second full year and most matches are televised. The competition makes for great TV, as there are a series of components to each race. Hopping came from a track and field background, though there are elements that cover a variety of sports. Most athletes competed in college and bring special skill sets to bear.

James Townsend, of the Reign, spent a year on the Houston Texans' taxi squad, while other athletes came from gymnastics, wrestling, volleyball and softball.

Hopping lifted weights, did pull-ups, climbed a rope and sprinted, all during the same segment. Call it competitive exercise but don't try it at home without a medical professional on hand. You can be in the best shape possible and still not be able to function at the level of the GRID athletes.

"It's a whole different ballgame in there," Fire teammate Tyler Cummings said. "You can't just be there. You have to be aware of what's next, what's going on with your teammates. You can't zone out. We put in the work and it shows."

It often shows when the timing is precise and sharp. Faults are costly, a loss of a few precious seconds that means the difference between winning and losing.

As for the hammer throw, Hopping has no idea how she would do these days. Cummings had an idea though. "Further," is how far she'd throw it these days.

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