Via FilipePhoto by Paul Neevel

Via Filipe

“As a kid, I did drama, music and dance,” says Via Filipe, who grew up in Salt Lake City. “At first, my mom didn’t allow sports.” But her mother later relented, and in high school Filipe excelled at volleyball, basketball and track. She won a volleyball scholarship to the University of South Alabama in Mobile, and also played for the USA Junior National Team in Europe and for a pro team in South America. “I fell in love with coaching,” says Filipe, who left school after her senior year in 2006, a few credits shy of a degree in electrical engineering, to coach a team in an inner-city sports program in Mobile. Then she got married and had a daughter, Jaryah, a son, Jamaize, and a second daughter, Jenovae, before the family moved to Eugene in 2010. Filipe now has a second son, Lona, 21 months of age, while she also went through a divorce early in 2016. “I gained weight with the kids,” she says of her first three children, so she became certified as a personal trainer and opened an exercise gym, GNG Fitness, in 2013. “I wanted to create a training environment that was comfortable and motivating.” In 2015, she and a partner, Leon Ireland, started a nonprofit, Athletes United, to provide coaching and competition to talented young athletes. They raised funds and last month brought a Jr. Pee Wee team (ages 8-11) from the Willamette Valley to the National Youth Football Tournament in Las Vegas, where she was the first-ever female coach. In the photo, she shows off the second-place trophy they won. Learn more about GNG Fitness and Athletes United on their Facebook pages.