Potter survives cancer, broken neck to inspire USA rugby’s thrilling run

AP Photo/Jason Getz
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The United States women’s rugby sevens team inspired with its tenacity and defense this weekend, serving notice to the world powers that the Americans could play with anyone.

That Team USA’s mentality would be so strong is little surprise given the inspiration of Jillion Potter.

The 30-year-old Colorado native has dealt with a pair of things that have waylaid many a dream: Stage III cancer and a broken neck.

The U.S. advanced to the quarterfinals of the Olympics and could’ve gone even farther, nearly knocking off powerful New Zealand (hours after tying Australia). The team showed a offense-limiting structure when the opposition had the ball and electric counterattacking and intercepting runs that thrilled fans.

A Denver Post article by John Meyer speaks directly with Potter about her harrowing journey to the world stage, but perhaps the most telling quote comes from her wife, who spoke of the first days of Potter’s cancer treatment.

From the Denver Post:

“He’s usually very sympathetic, but he said, ‘Carol, when things are at their worst, you have to be at your best,’ ” Fabrizio said, sharing the story to make a point about Potter’s strength. “It kind of jarred me, and I actually was mad at him a little bit. I thought, ‘Thanks for the support.’ But then Jill showed me what that meant. The whole time she was sick, you could call that her worst, but it wasn’t. She was at her best every step of the way.”

The U.S. can still finish as high as fifth if it can get revenge on Fiji at 1:30 p.m. ET and then beat the winner of Spain vs. France.