Jackson Perseveres Through Adversity

Nov. 5, 2010

Perseverance is a word Kansas redshirt freshman forward Tania Jackson chooses to use to guide her life.

Due to injury, the Lawrence, Kan., native has not played in a competitive basketball game since leading her high school team to the Kansas Class 6A state title in her final game as a junior at Lawrence High School. Jackson has missed back-to-back seasons, her senior year of high school and freshman year of college, after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament and torn meniscus in her left knee.

Jackson says that tearing her ACL and missing her freshman year of college on the court has been an emotional rollercoaster, but attributes her motivation to persevere through the ups and downs of her injury to the support of her family and teammates.

“I think that my family, especially my dad, has really motivated me to persevere through the ups and the downs of my injury,” said Jackson, who earned the Academic Pride award at the annual team reception last May. “My dad has really been a great supporter and my backbone. He has been there through all of my injuries and has always been there to talk and help me through it.

“My teammates have also been there throughout my time at Kansas and have really supported me throughout my injury.”

Although Jackson has not been on the court since the spring of 2008, she came out explosive and aggressive in the Jayhawks’ first exhibition game of the 2010-11 season. There were no signs of rust for Jackson as she posted seven points and two rebounds in 17 minutes of play.

“It felt good to be back out there,” said Jackson, who is majoring in Business. “It was a little bit different at times because I haven’t played with a referee or in that whole atmosphere with fans. Getting back out there and playing was a great experience though, and I am excited about what the rest of the season will bring.”

Even though Jackson had a successful first game back, she understands that she still has a lot of work to do to help her team on its quest to win a Big 12 championship and make an NCAA tournament run this year. She feels through her work ethic that she can bring a lot to her team.

“I feel that I can bring energy and be vocal on and off the court,” said Jackson. “I have developed a good game outside of the paint and I can also contribute my aggressiveness to the team this year. Getting back to full strength has been very demanding but Coach Tory (Verdi), Coach Bonnie (Henrickson) and my teammates have been pushing, challenging and encouraging me every day. I have also been doing a lot of work on my own, as far as getting in the gym and getting shots up and getting my knee back.”

The fans that have been following Jackson since her high school days at LHS are not the only people that have seen the improvements that Jackson has made. Verdi also feels that Jackson has been doing all of the right things to get herself ready to play this season.

“I think that one of the things that Tania brings to this team is that she is a great communicator,” said Verdi, who is in his first season with the Jayhawks. “She is the glue that holds the team together and that is something that you can control. She is doing a great job getting herself in shape to where she can come in and provide us with some really great minutes.

“Tania comes in and spends a lot of time in the gym shooting. My whole theory is that you play the way you practice and she comes in and works really hard every day in practice. I like her work ethic right now and we have to make sure that she stays healthy.”

Jackson understands that she still has a long way go, but feels that she has had a lot of success so far battling through the adversity of her injury. She has her entire college career in front of her, and believes with the support of her family, coaches and Jayhawk teammates that her possibilities are endless.

“I want to help my team win any way I can,” said Jackson. “I define success based on your will to never give up. I think that if you can persevere through adversity and never give up on yourself, that is success in itself. I believe with the help of everyone supporting me the sky is the limit for both me and my team.”