Is your diet that important? To some athletes the answer would be yes to some it would be no to Tyler Jones it was a definite yes. Being a well round athlete is not all about how well you can hit, throw, kick or spike a ball, your diet also plays a huge role into how well you will play during your season. Peter Jaret says when on your diet load up on carbohydrates he says that good carbs are the best to fuel your body. Jaret says “Eat a diet that gets about 70% of its calories from carbohydrates, including breads, cereals, pasta, fruit, and vegetables, to achieve maximum carbohydrate storage” (Jaret, P. 2014). Jaret also says to have enough protein in your body, “eat high-quality protein, such as lean meats, fish, poultry, nuts, beans, eggs, or milk” (Jaret, P. 2014). Third, he says to drink fluids early and often, fourth he states to replace lost electrolytes, and fifth he says to go easy on fat. From middle school to throughout high school you are shaping and training your body to continue your athletic career in college. For Tyler Jones he was bound and determined that he was going to play a sport in college, at a young age of 14 he knew that it would be hard but didn’t know how hard it was going to be to play at a collegiate level.
Freshman year of high school Tyler Jones was setting out to try out for the Cosby High School’s volleyball team, never playing before except in gym class he thought he had the athletic ability and he would catch on fast, which he did. Once Tyler received the news that he made Cosby’s JV team he got hit with even bigger news, he had been very sick for about three months couldn’t eat anything and losing weight rapidly. Doctors performed tests but did not have a clear answer for him, they told him to change up his diet and see if it would help, he did as he was told inserting through your throat and pictures are taken of your stomach. The pictures revealed damage to Tyler’s small intestines which is the primary sign of Celiac Disease. “Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that can occur in genetically predisposed people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide. Two and one-half million Americans are undiagnosed and are at risk for long-term health complications” (CDF 2016). During Tyler’s freshman year he was trying all new foods that were gluten free to try to gain the weight back. He was 14 years old, 5 feet 10 inches tall and 120 pounds. Reverting back to Jaret’s tips to be a healthy athlete he states that 70% of our diet should come from carbs, like bread, pasta, and cereals, all things that contain gluten. Tyler did not like the taste of gluten free bread, pasta or cereals making his weight stay at 120 pounds. Being a freshman in a high school that has 2500 students in the school is hard enough and seeing other athletes grow into their bodies and get stronger when Tyler realized the weight was not coming back as fast as he would have liked it to so he went into a depression. “At some points during the season I wondered if it was even worth playing anymore, I knew I was probably better than these players if only I could gain the weight to prove it” Tyler said. His drive was taken away from him and everyone could see it. Tyler used to be the first one at practice and the last one to leave. He loved getting extra reps but his battle with celiac led to further depression which also led to Tyler coming late to practice and not having any energy while practicing. He stopped working out he didn’t see the point of it anymore since he was still not gaining any of the weight back. His coaches pulled him out of the games as they should of, others were practicing harder but that still played no effect on Tyler. Finally, after not playing as much for a few games his coach pulled him aside, after an hour and 30 minutes of his yelling then talking then yelling some more Tyler walked out of his meeting a new person. “He laid into me he told me the God’s honest truth that everyone was afraid to say to my face. He made me realize my self-worth” Tyler said. To this day he will not tell us what the coach said to him exactly but said it hit home.
Throughout his high school career Tyler learned to like the gluten free food, his family changed their diets as well so there was no temptation with regular foods. The weight on the other hand wasn’t coming back as fast as Tyler was hoping but he was still training hard. Sophomore year rolled around and a 6-foot young man was smiling from ear to ear reading a white sheet of paper on the glass gym door, Tyler has made Cosby’s Varsity Volleyball team. With only one year of training under his belt Tyler was playing with kids who have played this sport for years, impressive was an understatement. During the season Tyler gained about ten pounds, he was now training with boys who were already committed to a D1 program for volleyball. Even though he did not see the court as much as he hoped he had the training from the varsity coach and the other players that shaped him into the athlete he is today. That year Cosby’s Boys Volleyball team won the district, won the region and made it all the way to the state semifinals even though the outcome was not what the boys wanted the experience was once in a life time . Junior year there was doubt that he was going to make the varsity team but as well he was a starter. Tyler received a phone call in the middle of his junior year from Wells College, a D1 program from up north . https://www.wells.edu/ The coach saw him play in a couple of his school and travel volleyball games and along with the phone call a letter of intent came in the mail as well. After the phone call he was a little discouraged which his family couldn’t believe. But the coach of the Wells college told him that he needed to gain weight if he was ever going to see the court for him. He didn’t want to go into detail with the coach about how he was trying to all he said was yes sir and that he looked forwarded to speaking with him again. After the conversation Tyler decided to once again up the amount of calories that he was trying to eat in a day. He thought that maybe if he did that more weight would come, he also started working out at 6:00 am and once again after practice. He was making himself exhausted and it was showing on the courts, this time the team captain pulled him aside and once again the talk worked and he was back to his old self . That season the Titans were 18-10 with another year making it to the state tournament.
Senior year Tyler finally gained the 20 pounds and then some back that he lost his in his freshman year of high school. He was now 6’1”weighing 180 pounds, and a vertical of 37 inches. It was like overnight this high school senior turned into a young man who was finally filling out. He politely declined the offer from Wells college, up north was somewhere Tyler only wanted to visit not so much go to college. He continued playing volleyball and continued being a starter, he had one of the best seasons any volleyball player ever had at Cosby. The team was 25-1 losing the one and only game in the state semifinals to Frank Cox High School. He made first team all-conference, first team all-region, second team all-metro, and first team all-state . http://cosbyathletics.org/main/team/id/63833/seasonid/189073
A season that 3 years ago no one would have thought Tyler would have but he beat the odds, he practiced and changed his diet for the love of the game.
Tyler is now currently a freshman at Longwood University playing and starting for their volleyball team. http://www.longwood.edu/
He is still 6”1 but now he is weighing in at 185 pounds. A number he never thought he would be able to reach. He has come a long way with his diet but unfortunately the challenge will not end anytime soon for him. He will continue to have to eat more than others to maintain the weight and he will still have to work out daily but this challenge is nothing that Tyler cannot handle and it wouldn’t be life if it didn’t come with ups and downs.
CDF. (2016). What is Celiac Disease? – Celiac Disease Foundation. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/what-is-celiac-disease/
Jaret, P. (2014, May 16). Top Nutrition Tips for Athletes. Retrieved March 20, 2016, from http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/nutrition-tips-athletes