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Perseverance and Triumph: The incredible story of Sophia Tougas, a basketball player battling rheumatoid arthritis

By Taylor Schaub,


BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) —Sophia Tougas, an unheralded guard on a mid-major college basketball team, could have easily gone unnoticed. But her story of perseverance and determination is nothing short of remarkable.

Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, Tougas faced a daily struggle against an invisible foe that threatened to derail her dreams.

“You can’t tell that day on that floor,” her coach Greg McCall said. “But she’s still out here battling.”

Despite the pain, Tougas refused to back down.

“It means everything, you know,” she said. “Like you said, there were days where I would come in and it would just be really hard to even get out of bed. But coming in and seeing them, seeing their love for the game, just made me want to push through for them.”

And push through she did, playing a critical role as the Roadrunners brought the tournament’s top seed, UC Irvine, to their knees. “We made it to the Final Four,” McCall said. “We were the first in program history to be able to do that.”

Throughout the journey, the ‘Runners stood united, their hearts swelling with admiration for Tougas as they banded together to uplift her through every battle she faced.

“They gave me the strength when I didn’t have it myself,” Tougas said.

In a world where stories of despair and defeat are commonplace, Sophia Tougas’ story is a shining example of what can happen when you refuse to give up.

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