Anxiety and stress resulted in Tayla Jackson quitting basketball. Now she is focusing on a new blog to help student-athletes deal with the battles away from the game. Luke Ehman @midrangejay photo

‘The stress would put my stomach into knots’ says former B.C. high school hoops star

Blog focuses on helping student-athletes deal with stress, anxiety

Tayla Jackson was unhappy, but she didn’t know why.

Those around her may not have noticed anything was amiss, but Jackson could not shake a feeling of uneasiness trapped inside.

The combination of stress and anxiety became so bad, Jackson walked away from the game she loved, basketball.

But when one chapter ends, another begins, and for Jackson, that means sharing her story and her struggles with other student-athletes facing similar issues through her new blog, Anxiety N Athletes.

The blog examines the battles that student-athletes face away from the game and offers a way for them to connect with others experiencing similar struggles.

Jackson, who turns 21 later this month, first noticed the signs when she began university following graduation from Langley’s Brookswood Secondary in 2015.

She was attending the University of California Irvine on a basketball scholarship following an outstanding high school career with the Brookswood Bobcats as one of the province’s top players.

From the time she began high school in Grade 8, Jackson played on the senior girls team, and did not look out of place, helping the Bobcats to five top-four finishes at provincials, including silver in Grade 10 and gold in the final two seasons.

SEE: The transformation of Tayla

However, after one season in California, she returned home to Surrey to attend Simon Fraser University and play for the Clan.

But something was still not right.

“I didn’t know why I couldn’t shake this stress of the everyday routine because every day was pretty much the same,” Jackson explained.

“I always had this little bit shortness of breath and stress deep inside my chest and I didn’t know why I had that feeling — I had never experienced that before. It was almost like I was freaking out over something I couldn’t figure out and what it was and it would make things worse.”

Jackson always knew playing her sport at the highest level would be difficult but she admits to having no idea what it would entail mentally and emotionally.

“I knew going into it that it would be hard but I thought as long as I put the ball in the hoop, everything else would fall into place,” she explained.

Jackson — who is studying to be an elementary school teacher — played a big role on the Clan this past season, as the team’s second-leading scorer and rebounder at 11.9 points and 4.6 rebounds, respectively, per game.

But the past three years have been filled with stress and anxiety.

“I would wake up and throw up because the stress would put my stomach into knots,” she explained.

Even achieving on-court success did little to alleviate what she was experiencing internally.

“I was hitting all the milestones that I had imagined for myself but I didn’t feel satisfied whatsoever,” she said. “I still tossed and turned, not wanting to wake up in the morning and do it all over again … and I couldn’t explain what I was feeling or why I was feeling it.”

She also felt that the demands of the sport were transforming her from who she really is.

“I really lost touch of my spark,” she explained. “I definitely think it was hard to spend every day trying to be shifted and moulded into someone who I wasn’t naturally.”

So she quit basketball.

Whereas Jackson felt like she was walking on eggshells before the decision, she now feels free.

She also decided to launch her blog last month.

“Wearing your heart on your sleeve, putting it out there, you are making yourself so vulnerable to people, you don’t know how they are going to react,” Jackson said. “But knowing that someone can relate or understand, makes it all worthwhile.

“This is an expose of my experiences in hopes that others (can) deal with their own emotional struggles.”

Her message is simple.

“You need to know you are worth fighting for,” she said. “And you need to put your happiness first.”



sports@langleytimes.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

Gary Ahuja Langley Times file photo

Just Posted

Drivesmart column: Fear of police retaliation

While I won’t say that this is impossible, I would certainly like to think that it is highly unlikely

Cowichan Div. 2 women out-paced in last match of 2018

Soccer team has second game of the weekend postponed by weather

Robert Barron column: Universal child care good for families, and society

I’m pleased that the province is stepping in to start providing $10-per-day childcare spaces

Lynn’s hat trick gets Caps past Salmon Arm

Cowichan wins second game of Interior road trip

From introducing k.d. lang to honouring Gordon Lightfoot, Cowichan Theatre has had busy 40 years

40-year retrospective has offered theatregoers a glimpse of Cowichan’s entertainment history

VIDEO: Cobble Hill welcomes Christmas with frolicsome show

From lovely carols to humorous skits: a big crowd enjoyed it all on Sunday, Dec. 9

Coming up in Cowichan: Celebrate the second floor with the HUB

Celebrate the second floor this weekend at HUB at Cowichan Station Dec.… Continue reading

Crossword puzzle clues Dec. 14

Oops. Attention all crossword puzzle fans: the clues in the Friday, Dec.… Continue reading

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

GoFundMe helps Vancouver Island teen battle a rare cancer

Nanaimo’s Michelle Reilly, 16, battling spinal cord cancer, seeking possible treatment in U.S.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

Most Read