Former Oregon Pole Vaulter Jordan Roskelley Introduces Gonzaga to the Benefits of Yoga | Online only


To imagine. You are a yoga instructor who works with all Gonzaga athletes. You are in your session helping Przemek Karnowski and Jordan Mathews get into their yoga squat by holding their hands in a lethal grip to keep them from falling backwards. Instead of knocking them off, you just slip in between because you can’t support the around 500 pounds.

For the most part, this sounds like a fun and unlikely situation to find yourself in. For Jordan Roskelley, it’s a daily occurrence and the way she makes a living.

While attending the University of Oregon, Roskelley was a pole vaulter and suffered constant injuries.

She suffered stress fractures to her shins and ended up with two bulging discs. By the time she finished the national championships in her senior year, she could barely walk and was sitting “like an 80 year old woman”.

Like most of those who have faced life-changing incidents, Roskelley did not know where to turn. With no other hobbies up his sleeve, his father suggested that he try yoga.

“I have an unlimited monthly subscription in a studio [in Spokane]”Roskelley said.” I wasn’t doing much, I was just starting to transition. Then I started going four, five, six times a week and started noticing my back. didn’t hurt anymore and my range of motion increased. I didn’t hurt myself running and riding the bike that I love to ride. I felt so much better and stronger. From there, I immersed myself in it .

For her, diving meant designing her master’s program around the effect of yoga on athletes and starting to teach a bit of yoga.

His first client? Mark little.

“Travis Chevalier, [the men’s basketball’s strength and conditioning coach] knew me from my work at Lulu Lemon and I knew I was really passionate about yoga, ”she said. “He got my number and asked me if I would be interested in teaching and coaching him Few yoga in their office. I told him that I had never taught before, but if they would allow me to learn as I went, I would.

A fan of his teaching, Knight asked Roskelley to start working with the Gonzaga volleyball team. Next up: the men’s basketball team.

Upon graduation from OU, Mike Roden, Associate Director of Student-Athlete Support Services, offered her a teaching position in a pilot program, yoga and mindfulness workout six days a week. for athletes.

This program was designed to help athletes be present and reduce their stress levels. In addition to this, yoga is used to increase flexibility and reduce injury rates.

One athlete who sees this is Karnowski, who is back this year after suffering a season-ending back injury in 2015.

“I feel like my body works a lot better after doing yoga,” Karnowski said. “I think it helps me find my old self before the injury. When diving to the ground or going with my movement, I don’t have to worry about extending my back too much and I think this is the key for me to be able to trust my body throughout the game. .

Seeing that her work with the athletes was paying off and preferring to keep busy, Roskelley decided to take six more classes. So, in addition to the pilot class, she worked with the GU men’s and women’s basketball teams, the volleyball team, the baseball team and the men’s soccer team.

This may seem more than enough to some, but for Roskelley she still wasn’t finished and wanted to expand her work even more.

“I contacted Eastern and started working with their men’s basketball, women’s tennis and men’s football teams,” she said. “I have also approached Washington State and work with their men’s basketball, women’s volleyball and track teams.”

For her, it is a market that is waiting to materialize.

What does yoga do for all of these different athletes?

“Yoga in general, for these athletes, is about connecting with your breathing,” Roskelley said. “So the first part is to connect with your breathing, which will only help you with what you are doing, and then the physical aspect of it is going to help you with the flexibility and range of motion.”

She admits that some guys will never be what’s classified as flexible, but yoga can still improve their performance and help prevent injury by loosening muscles and improving balance.

While the main goal of doing yoga with so many athletes is the same, the approach to getting there can be different depending on the sport.

“In all of these sports they all have similar imbalances because if you lift you’re going to hit the same main points,” Roskelley said. “You’re going to have tight hamstrings, hips, and glutes. The lower back is tight and the shoulders are tight. You get the same things, but the degree of tension in these different athletes makes a difference. “

While athletes who play sports like soccer and baseball have a better range of motion due to the different movements they make throughout workouts and games, runners and rowers are among the tightest due the repetitive nature of their movements.

As some can imagine, it’s hard to get all of these athletes to embrace yoga and take it seriously.

The thing Roskelley needed everyone to understand was that “your sport is not just your sport” which means that you have another workout outside of normal practice that you have to think about in order to be a sport. complete athlete.

Roskelley needed to find a way to get this message across, and she did.

“I can’t just tell them what poses to take and how to take them,” she said. “I started to explain the reasons. If I start giving them the facts behind every pose and why we’re doing this, not just because I want to, but the reasons why you should feel it, they’ll understand. That first time they see results is when they’re addicted and like it.

One athlete who has surprised Roskelley with her abilities is first-year basketball player Zach Collins, who she believes could possibly hold out in a yoga class in a real studio.

Her response: “I think she’s just nice.”

That said, Collins is the one who takes these yoga sessions seriously. “It’s something that I know athletes are doing all over the world, so I guess I take it really seriously,” he said. “Every time I go to yoga, I sweat by the time I’m done. I’m just trying to do it as hard as I can. I really like it and can see it helps me a lot.

For Collins, in addition to the benefits it brings to his body, it also helps him mentally.

Her favorite part is the meditation part, which allows her to distract herself from everything that is going on in the real world.

While Collins surely enjoys spending time with Roskelley in class, one of the reasons he quickly accepted it is his position in the Zag hierarchy.

“I’m a freshman so I really don’t have a choice but to buy everything here,” he said. “It’s my state of mind.”

Although they may have accepted her lessons, the athletes are by no means giving her an easy life.

The team that she says creates her funniest stories is the men’s basketball team.

“I have to move them and get the boys to the front of the class, I had to bring phones, I have been around the university and people tell me they saw me on someone’s Snapchat even though I know I picked up their phone, ”Roskelley said.

In looking at her rules, there is one aspect of the class that she lets the team control: the music.

“You have to read your band,” she said. “If I’m with a group of boys and I put on my girly, upbeat music, they’ll say, ‘Jordan, what is this? So now my okay is, I’m going to let them control the music as long as they stretch. But they’re gonna serenade me and rap me all the time, it’s fun.

While this all sounds like fun and playful, this job brings a certain fulfillment to Roskelley.

“Coming out of track and field myself, I would have liked to have had that available to me,” she said. “When you come in as an athlete, you drive all the time. They push all the time to improve athletically so it’s a fun group to work with. I don’t teach in the studio for a reason. I love working with children, I love working with athletes.

Kendra Andrews is a senior writer. Follow her on Twitter: @kendra_andrews. Contact her at [email protected]


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