Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

From Start-Up to SPRHRA: How Marina Paul Built a Female Sports Apparel Brand

Since founding SPRHRA, a sports apparel company designed by and for women, former Hoyas’ soccer star Marina Paul (MSB ’16, GRD ’17) has partnered with Georgetown Athletics and Hoyas Rising to bring her brand’s gear to campus.
Courtesy of Marina Paul | SPRHRA’s line of clothing has been designed by and for female athletes to enhance physical performance and comfort.

Perseverance is nothing new for Marina Paul (MSB ’16, GRD ’17), the founder of SPRHRA (pronounced sup-er-he-ra), a sports apparel company designed by and for female athletes.

A five-year defender — and three-year captain — for the Georgetown women’s soccer team, Paul helped catapult the program into the upper echelons of women’s collegiate soccer and to the top of the Big East standings, where the team perennially sits today.

But her journey as a Hoya was anything but easy. She struggled with depression and eating disorders for much of her first year — in which she started every game — before tearing the same ACL in her right knee twice during her junior and senior years.

Paul returned to the Hilltop for her fifth year, albeit in the slightly different role of periodically coming off the bench. This forced Paul to relearn how to be a leader while not directly contributing to the team’s performance on the field.

Her final season, however, saw magical results, as the combination of a strong, dedicated group of depth players with a talented frontline led to the program’s first Big East Tournament Championship and first College Cup semifinal appearance in history.

After leaving Georgetown on such a high, Paul entered the business world, leading the marketing team at the start-up Super Coffee, a company which offers healthy alternatives to traditional sugary coffee drinks, and later working as a consultant.

On top of that, Paul embarked on a book-writing journey in 2020, eventually publishing “Becoming a Superhero.” The novel intertwines lessons from her personal narrative with the testimonies of other female leaders, including an Olympic gold medalist and the first woman to lead a men’s armed forces collegiate sports team.

Julia Hennrikus for The Hoya | Marina Paul (MSB ’16, GRD ’17) playing soccer on the Hilltop.

The book also provided a framework for what would soon become SPRHRA, according to Paul.

“Writing through what I had experienced and connecting that and being like, ‘Okay, I think this is the playbook,’ and then, what resulted from that was building a sportswear company that I’ve always wanted to build,” Paul said.

As a result, after publishing “Becoming a Superhero” — from which the brand’s name SPRHRA is derived — Paul began to set the foundation for her company, creating its first shorts samples while still working a day job.

Despite some production facility issues due to a combination of bankruptcies and the COVID-19 pandemic, Paul was able to soft-launch the shorts in April 2022. She quickly felt gratified, taking the feedback provided into designing future generation products.

Paul said this feedback-based model is still essential for SPRHRA.

“I used over 150 female athletes’ feedback to build the shorts, so I very much made them to fit so many different bodies,” Paul said.

The comfortable fit of SPRHRA’s apparel is a particular sticking point for athletes who wear the brand, including Georgetown junior sprinter and jumper KC Ashiogwu.

“SPRHRA makes me feel confident and reminds me that you’re supposed to wear clothes and clothes aren’t supposed to wear you,” Ashiogwu told The Hoya. “I just love how the brand is being so inclusive toward everybody, all women with different sizes and shapes, because not everyone’s an extra-small and we should stop trying to make it seem like you have to be little to be an athlete.”

In addition to its shape and size range, SPRHRA utilizes graphene fabric. According to Paul, this performance cloth aids in recovery and is anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, ultraviolet (UV) protectant, sweat-wicking and bug-repellent.

Courtesy of Marina Paul | SPRHRA has partnered with Georgetown Athletics to outfit its female athletes.

In October 2023, the company transitioned toward a “teams” model, outfitting entire clubs and groups in SPRHRA gear at the high school and collegiate levels. 

Thus, Paul began to use Georgetown Athletics as a platform for her brand, becoming an official apparel partner with the university for the sale of SPRHRA undergarments Feb. 7, the date of National Girls and Women in Sports Day. The company is also in talks with the Big East conference as a whole and Big Ten volleyball for similar partnerships.

SPRHRA is targeting compression products and undergarments because they are particularly important to female athletes and are not covered under most contracts with larger apparel brands, per Paul.

“We found that undergarments were women’s and female athletes’ biggest pain point because it’s the thing that’s closest and tightest to your skin,” Paul said. “We also knew that we had this value in our product that was above and beyond because of the fit and then all of the performance aspects and health aspects that are in our fabric.”

The company has also been active on the name, image and likeness (NIL) market, partnering with Hoyas Rising to connect with Georgetown female athletes, including women’s basketball junior forward Brianna Scott.

Paul said that SPRHRA has ambitious goals and does not plan to slow down anytime soon.

“We want to be the undergarment compression brand and the practice gear brand for all female athletes because I want to be the thing that they use the most,” Paul said. “I don’t necessarily need to be the thing that’s always flashy on the outside.”

“I want to be the thing that is helping her get better, that’s helping her find her freedom, that’s helping her become a superher-a on a daily basis.”

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About the Contributor
Daniel Greilsheimer
Daniel Greilsheimer, Senior Sports Editor
Daniel Greilsheimer is a sophomore in the SFS from Port Washington, N.Y., studying regional and comparative studies with minors in journalism and environmental science. He is the former Senior Opinion Editor and is still a huge fan of Costco (he's been to locations in seven U.S. states and territories). [email protected]
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