Atlanta Steam competitor Tiana Lopez a portrait in courage

As the Atlanta Steam approach the upcoming 2015 indoor football season with ambitions to win an elusive championship, the club has even greater motivation. Just before training camp was set to begin, Steam player Tiana Lopez was brutally injured in a motorcycle accident. News of the accident sent a ripple of shock throughout the club, saddening fans and friends alike.

Through determination, the power of prayer and support of best friend and fellow teammate Leanne Hardin, the good news is that Lopez is on the road to recovery. Having been in the hospital for over 20 days, the first 17 of those frightening days were spent in the intensive care unit. Surgeries to address internal bleeding and clots were essential for survival. While there are still broken bones to heal and internal organs that must recover from the shock, the mental strain is one that will require even more support.

Unfortunately, the accident has resulted in an abrupt end to her playing career. Forced to approach life with a prosthetic limb, her survival is testament to a toughness that made her a highly valued member of the Steam. From a sporting perspective, there is a parallel which may result in a glorious end. After the Detroit Red Wings hockey club won the Stanley Cup in 1997 (their first in over three decades), a tragic event occurred where defender Vladimir Konstantinov suffered a career ending injury in a limousine accident, confining him to a wheelchair.

The Red Wings not only dedicated the following season to him, but they won a second straight Cup. Only adding to the magic of the second straight win was that Konstantinov was brought to centre ice to hold the Cup. Should the Steam manage to win their first championship in franchise history this year, it would be very fitting to have Lopez at the 50-yard line holding the coveted trophy alongside her teammates.

Despite a future without gridiron glories, the greater victory is that Lopez can still tackle life for many more years to come. Her ability to endure shall be the hallmark upon which the upcoming Steam season is based on, one that should propel the club to greater heights. Upon a full recovery, perhaps there will even be an opportunity to remain a member of the Steam family in an administrative capacity, or in a role as a trainer or coach (of which there needs to be much more in female football).