With the fall sports season underway and winter sports not far behind, athletes finally have opportunities to put the hard work they did during the off-season on display.
Motivated players across the country spent the summer perfecting their skills and honing their games. For these athletes, every minute of the off-season was a chance to #WINFROMWITHIN. Whether they were dribbling a basketball before dawn or practicing headers alone in the afternoon heat, these competitors took advantage of every opportunity to get better.
Many of these athletes shared their stories by creating their own digital Gatorade bottles (which you can do, too, by clicking here). We've selected the most inspiring images and asked these hard-working student-athletes what it means to #WINFROMWITHIN. Here are their stories.
Haskel Buford Improves His Game, Proves Doubters Wrong
Haskel Buford, a sophomore basketball player from Wentzville Holt High School in Wentzville, Mo., has mad air like MJ. But he spent the summer working to elevate his game even higher, motivated by those who doubted him. With school back in session, Buford continues to dedicate long hours to getting even better on the basketball court.
"I wake up and practice before school, after school, and in the evening," Buford says.
His #WINFROMWITHIN digital Gatorade bottle shows him flawlessly executing a sensational, high-flying, single-handed jam on the outdoor courts in his neighborhood.
"I wanted to show that no matter who you are, you always have room to improve, and then prove the people wrong who doubted you," Buford says.
Doubters and haters everywhere, you've been served notice. Buford's impressive work ethic seems to resonate with his entire team. A recent update posted to the Wentzville Holt High School boys basketball Facebook page reads, "66 days until the first day of practice. What have you done to make your team better today?"
There's no doubt that Buford—who draws inspiration from Larry Bird and his path from a small-town background to the NBA—is primed to fly sky-high during the upcoming basketball season.
Marlene Quirarte's Solo Championship-Chasing Mission
Marlene Quirarte thanks her three brothers, two parents and one Alex Morgan for inspiring her "burning passion and love for the game of soccer," as she describes it.
The Southern Nevada native is chasing a championship, and as she says of her #WINFROMWITHIN moment, "champions are made when no one else is watching."
That's the theme of her customized digital Gatorade bottle. Quirarte says, "This is a really special moment to show how to win from within, because it shows me practicing and playing alone."
Though she's not even 16 years old (yet), Quirarte trains six to seven days a week for at least two and a half hours a day. And her training sessions often happen in tough conditions. "The temperature gets up to 110 degrees here," she says.
What drives her through her grueling workouts and practice sessions is the competitive drive instilled in her by playing sports with her brothers, who, she says, never took it easy on her. That, coupled with a tremendous work ethic passed down from her parents, helps push Quirarte to improve every day.
And while Quirarte loves her family—and her "top role model," Alex Morgan—she's out to blaze her own path. "I don't like to say 'I want to be like him or her when I grow up,'" Quirarte says. "I just want to be a better me than I was yesterday."
With a work ethic and #WINFROMWITHIN drive like that, Quirarte will quench her championship thirst in no time.
Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock