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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Gary Ahuja Langley Times file photo

Just Posted

Trial begins for Abbotsford chicken farmer charged with 2015 fatal hit-and-run

Kerry Froese is charged with hitting cyclist Ronald Scott on Mt. Lehman Road

Elton John, Billy Joel perform in Mission – sort of!

Impersonator Ryan Langevin sang at the Clarke Theatre on Saturday night

UFV offers mental-health screenings as part of Beyond the Blues

Activities at event from Jan. 27-31 include stress bingos and colouring

Second earthquake in two days strikes near Agassiz

A 2.6-magnitude recorded Saturday morning

Province bringing 421 new affordable childcare spaces to Fraser Valley

Supporting early childhood educators and creating spaces go hand in hand, minister says

VIDEO: Canada’s first presumptive case of coronavirus officially confirmed

Both patient and wife arrived on a China Southern Airlines flight after having been to Wuhan

BC Place lights up in purple and yellow to honour Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant, his 13-year-old daughter and seven others were killed in a helicopter crash

Whistleblower says Iranian-Americans questioned at Peace Arch crossing were targeted

Immigration lawyer says response from Customs Border Protection is a ‘total cover up’

Surrey bylaws tactics with Uber drivers ‘entrapment’ and ‘completely wrong’

That’s what Councillors Brenda Locke and Linda Annis had to say Monday about city staff hailing Uber drivers then issuing them warnings

‘Big money’ funding B.C. politics now mostly from taxpayers

Campaign targets $16 million and counting in ‘politician welfare’

Ski lift closed at B.C. mountain over alleged actions of former employee

‘We are actively investigating and dealing with the actions of a former employee,’ said the resort

VIDEO: Music stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Grammys award show

Music artists including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Ross and Kirk Franklin paid tribute to Bryant

John Lennon’s psychedelic Rolls-Royce on display at Royal BC Museum

The classic car has been a favourite for Beatles fans from Victoria and internationally

Most Read