Nicole Stout: A Fighting Spirit

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Growing up in a household of athletes, it was only natural that Nicole Stout began competing in sports by the age of 3. While her father and brother practiced judo under Olympian Patrick Burris, Stout chose to focus on gymnastics and ballet. By age 12, she was competing as a rhythmic gymnast on an international level. However, she quickly burned out.

“Between being bullied by my teammates and struggling with the negative body image ideals my coaches forced upon me, I knew I had to quit,” Stout says. “I’d always wanted to make an Olympic team, so quitting was very hard for me.”

Redirection

Burris suggested she try her hand at judo, and against her father’s wishes, Stout accepted the challenge. Her father was concerned for his little girl’s safety in such a physical sport, but proving to him that she could be just as good as her brother became Stout’s driving force.

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After working hard for a year to build her judo essentials, including strength, flexibility, balance, power, endurance, speed and agility, Stout finally won her first match and was hooked. She did sustain a couple of potentially career-ending injuries on the mat, including a broken foot and a torn ACL, which she incurred during the Judo National Championships, but Stout pushed on. She trained under some of the biggest names in the sport, including Japanese national champion Shinjiro Sasaki and four-time Olympian Jason Morris, and she earned her way onto various championship teams around the world. Currently, she’s a 2020 and 2024 USA Judo Olympic hopeful.

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