Three short years ago, she was one of the top boxers in the nation vying for a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. Now, Whitney “Hollywood” Gomez is back in a Bend gym. But she has hung up the gloves and is training the next generation of local boxers.
“You’re coming in. You’re landing a few, but then you’re just taking a bunch,” Whitney told one of her boxers at a recent training session we attended. “So you’ve got to ‘bop, bop, bop’ and then move and then ‘bop, bop, bop.”
It was just over three years ago that Whitney had her Olympic dreams come oh so close — barely missing out on the U.S. team. Then life as she knew it changed completely.
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“Lost at Olympic trials. Heartbreaking. Almost made me feel lost for a while. And then COVID. And then I ended up having another baby who’s two now and ended up having two hip surgeries,” said Whitney.
A fourth child and two hip replacements during the pandemic caused Whitney to head back to the drawing board. But when she was finally able to come up for air, that board still showed a ring, two gloves and a whole lot of passion.
“Boxing changed my life. It saved m en one of the darkest parts of my life. The darkest times in my life, I found boxing and it saved my life,” said Whitney.
The hip replacements may have ended her fighting career, for now but the passion for boxing still burned bright and Whitney found herself ready for a new challenge. She traded in her gloves for a stop watch and whistle and is now the new head coach of Deschutes County Rocks Boxing.
Her longtime coach and Deschutes Rocks founder Richard Miller was looking to step back at the same time Whitney was stepping forward, making for a seamless transition.
“He’ll always be coach to me, right? I still call him. I say ‘Hey, coach,” Whitney said. “He’ll always be coach to me. But the help he gives me is very crucial.”
She’s might be the only female in the gym, but Whitney is used to it and the boxers young and old, new and experienced, give her the respect she deserves and the respect she’s earned.
“Being a female coach in any sport, especially if you’re coaching boys and men, can be intimidating. But these guys, I feel like they show me the respect that they should show a coach. And they come and they work and they listen to me and they are super respectful.”
Gomez says she’s leaving the door cracked for a possible return to the ring herself. But for the time being, her focus is on training others. If you’re interested in taking up boxing, head to boxitfit.com and look under the Rocks Boxing tab.