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Episode #64

Regaining Confidence

with Jaylyn Agnew

25 Jan, 2022

Jaylyn Agnew, VIS League member and WNBA player shares her journey with being drafted, going abroad, and facing a season-ending injury during a global pandemic. Jaylyn speaks about regaining strength and confidence amidst such an uncertain period.

Transcript

Episode #64

Athlete: Jaylyn Agnew

“Rookie Season: Regaining Confidence Post Injury”

JAYLYN: And then I think, within myself, you know, I think I just kind of realized,  I'm not the only person that has ever gone through this,  obviously,  and people have come out so much better on the other side. And I think just like seeing that and seeing someone else go through it and being so much better on the other side,  has helped me too.

STEF: On today's episode, we have the pleasure of talking to professional WNBA player Jaylyn Agnew. Jaylyn is also a VIS league mentor on the Voice In Sport platform. At Creighton University, Jaylyn Agnew earned many accolades, including two Big East Player of the Year  awards. She's 11th in Creighton Jay's history for points scored, and the first ever player from Creighton to be drafted to the WNBA.

Jaylyn was initially drafted to the Washington Mystics in the 2020 draft and soon after with the Atlanta Dream. Outside her professional play here in the states, Jaylyn has had the opportunity to play overseas in Russia for the WBC Sparta, and K after tearing her ACL. Jaylyn speaks with us about all of the unexpected variables that occurred during her first rookie season and her journey of regranting strength.

After tearing her ACL, Jaylyn speaks with us about all of the unexpected variables that occurred during her rookie season and her journey of regaining strength and maintaining her confidence in the midst of such an uncertain period. Jaylyn, welcome to the Voice In Sport podcast. We're so excited to share your journey with the Voice In Sport community.

STEF: Well, before you started your professional career, you absolutely crushed it at Creighton Universityand I briefly mentioned it in the introduction, but you had such an incredible career there and you were the first college female athlete from the basketball team to actually go on to play pro ball after that.

So you crushed it, you scored 1552 points, 657 rebounds, 302 assists you made 250 threes. I mean, while you were there, it was pretty incredible. So what factors do you think led to your success in college at a Division One athletics program?

JAYLYN: I would say there are multiple factors,  you know, my family support for sure. They were  always,  shoulder to cry on. I mean, even though they're far away, you know, It's always a phone call away.  They made it to almost every home game and many away games. So I'm super grateful that they were able to do that.

In just relying also on my teammates and my coaching staff,  and all of our support staff  I think they were,  great. And. Like so grateful to them for all their help and so many different aspects, not just on the court, but off the court.  Yeah, I think just the people that I was able to be surrounded by really just helped me in all aspects.

And so they are the ones that kind of gave me that little push to be able to make it to the pros. 

STEF: That's incredible. Well, I want to talk about like your first year there. So you were a nonmedical red shirt, your freshman year. What guided you in that decision. And do you think that red shirt year really made your transition from high school to college smooth and set you up For success? Because I feel like sometimes there's a lot of negatives around redshirting, but it actually could be a pretty big positive. So can you speak a little bit about your experience and your decision?

JAYLYN: For sure. Yeah. So I'm with red shirting, you know, my coaches have kind of brought it up to me because we have I think 15 people on our team. So,  I probably, wasn't going to get a lot of plane time in the first place. And, I came in relatively skinny. I had no muscle on me whatsoever.  I was kind of getting pushed around out there in some early practices.

And so  based showed me that it was an opportunity for me to get stronger,  kinda  figure out the way that they played basketball here at Creighton. And then  just kind of gave me an easier way to ease into college athletics, I think. And,  like you said, there's kind of a stigma around red shirting and I think it's probably the best thing that's happened to me in terms of my career.

If people have an option to red-shirt, I would say do it.  It helped me not only on the court, but off the court.  I got faster, stronger,  felt like I could hang with everyone playing wise, but I was also able to obtain a master's degree with that extra fifth year.  So I really think that red shirt year was set me up for the future. Not only on the court, but off the court. 

STEF: That's amazing. I love to hear that. And sometimes I do feel like it's like a mutual decision between you and your coaches. And other times, like, you're basically told, you know, so if, if you are maybe one of those girls out there right now, who are from were told like, Hey, you should, you need to red shirt.

JAYLYN: There's not, a choice. And you feel like it kinda hits your confidence.  What would you want to whisper to that girl right now? So that she  continues to build her confidence throughout that. 

I would say the whisper would be, don't take it to heart, cause it  could change your life. you know? When I first brought it. up, I thought, you know, maybe I can't really hang with the team. I'm not as good as I thought I was.  Those thoughts always creep into your head, but staying the course,  doing all your workouts, training,  all that stuff, I think it propelled me and  not next year, they able to have a successful year and,  leading on after. So, yeah,  I would say just stay the course because it can really honestly change your life.

STEF: Definitely worked for you because you were historically,  11th in career points scored at Creighton. So you know, not bad.  And then, like you said, You got a master's degree. So tell us about  what you got your master's in your undergraduate in, and,  looking back now, you know, to your experience in college, did you always know what you wanted to study and you know, how did you balance the school work and performing. 

JAYLYN: Yeah. So I got my undergraduate in Marketing and my master's is in Organizational .Leadership  and I really didn't know what I wanted to do going into, college, you know, I'm kind of a nerd. So I was like,  I could do more science-based stuff, more math. And I'm like, I don't know.

I feel like the business side, you can do so many things with it. And so I decided to go with marketing.  And then the organizational leadership aspect, I think it's just like,  I think it really helped me in terms of being a leader on the court.  A lot of  classmates in there had not that playing basketball was wasn't a real job, but had actual jobs.

They were older than me and I'm not like actually in schools. And so I related a bunch of my stuff to basketball and think it really helped me be a better leader my last year and a half. I'm just taking those classes. But it was also a challenge in terms of my masters,  figuring out  time management wise because my master's was all online. and so you kind of had to  really carve out your day is to where, all right, this day do this. I have the right part of my paper this day versus just going to class every single day. And so that was definitely different from undergrad, but,  I'm just very grateful. I even had the opportunity to  take my master's and made it worthwhile and, and was able to graduate with it.

STEF: Amazing.  So I want to talk about the other resources in the college experience that you do have access to as athletes, you can see a sports psychologist, nutritionist, most schools have those resources to support you. During your years there, did you ever meet with a sports psych or a nutritionist? Like kind of, how did you approach the game differently when you got to that elite level of division one sports? 

JAYLYN: Yeah. So we had a nutritionist.  Every year we had a  team talk with them at the end of the year, and then we would branch out and do our individual meetings with along with our weights coach. And I think that was super helpful. You know, you go from having all your meals pretty much made for you at home in high school, and then you go to college and you're like, well, I guess I need to figure out what I need to eat for dinner tonight. You know? So it was super helpful in terms of even just  picking stuff, either making your own dinner or picking stuff out at the dining halls.  And so those that the nutritionist was  super, super helpful. And I still use some of their stuff. I saved a lot of their handouts and sheets and, I still use that stuff to this day. 

 So I know it's super beneficial, so I'm not gonna throw those away.  And we had a sports psych, We had more, it was more accessible, I think my last couple of years, and I never really went to one. I think I had one meeting, but I honestly wish I would have more  especially now, and going overseas and not having access to that.

I think it can be so critical to our game, the mental side of the game. I do wish I would have, been to her more him more. I think we had, I think we had two actually my senior year.  But that is something I'm Definitely going to change when I  start back playing so.

STEF: Love that. Well, that's a big part of why we built the Voice In Sport platform. Not only to have access to an incredible mentors, like you you know, you're on our VISLeague, you mentor young girls, which is incredible on the platform, but also to just bring in a diverse set of experts from the sports psychology and the nutrition side. So, you can find somebody that you relate to. And, and I think that's so important just because maybe you have one or two people at your school and if you don't relate to them, it's, it's okay to find like another avenue to get help. And  I, I think it's so important that you guys, that you did that, and it sounds like now it's even more of a focus as you're heading into  your professional.

 Let's talk about that shift because, you know, you, had an incredible run at Creighton and you ended up going on and being drafted by the Washington Mystics in May And, then signed with the Atlanta Dream in June. So, I want talk about what happened in that moment and you know, were you always thinking about going to play pro when you were in college, did you know you wanted to go pro was it a struggle to get there?  And tell us about that, that first draft experience. What, what did you learn? What can we share with the other girls? 

JAYLYN: Yeah. So  this was in the height of COVID right in March, 2020. And so the NCAA tournament had just gotten canceled. Then the all pro sports or not playing. So we're kind of in this limbo phase like what is actually going to happen?  The draft is scheduled literally a month away.

And so  I got my agent and I was just having phone calls and zooms with  different teams, different coaching staffs. And then, You know, the day of the draft came and my agent's like,  you're projected third round, maybe late second round, but no one really knows until it comes out. So we're just going to be a waiting game.

And that was probably the most nervous I've ever been in my life. If I could not eat anything the whole day, like I took to have a normal day, I went and shot baskets, lifted. And I was trying to be like, pretty normal just to have a normal day and then like three o'clock hits. And I was like, all right, I'm going to nervous right now. And it's not for another three hours. Couldn't eat. I distinctly remember having a strawberry banana body armor and I was looking at it and I was like, I can't even drink that. My stomach is just like twisting and turning.  So I ended up getting drafted. And at this point in a normal season, it would be,  in a week you would head to a training camp, but with COVID, they'd didn't even know if there, was going to be a season.

And so,  they sent some workout equipment and we're gonna have zoom,  workout sessions, like a couple of times a week. And so, we did that a little bit and then comes June when roster cuts are supposed to happen already because that's in a normal season and that's when the first games would be.

And then people would start being paid well, They wanted to still pay everyone. And so the rookies that couldn't really show their stuff were kind of, like, well, we're going to probably rely on our vets here.  And so we're going to cut you guys. So I ended up getting cut.  They said, you know,  if we're going to have a training camp at this point, I still didn't know about season, but if we were to have another training camp, we would invite you back.

But as of right now, you have to be waived. Again, still in this limbo phase.  So I'm still just working out. Cause again, not knowing if there will be a training camp. And so there's talks of seasons starting having a bubble. And  I get a call from the head coach of the Dream at a time. Nicki Collen, and she's like, "Hey, we have some people that are thinking about opting out. Like, would you be interested in playing? I'm like, of course, like I just want to play,  I don't care who it's for.  I would be so appreciative to even, to be on a team and she was like, all right, Well, , I'll see you in a couple of days.

 And see like what happens with our team. I think it's the next day she calls and I was like all ready to join the Atlanta Dream. I'm like, definitely. So I was on a flight to Atlanta  within two 

days. And then we were there for a week before getting to the bubble. so quite the wild ride there from, from March, till end of June. 

STEF: So  how do you handle the rejection of beginning? Like basically cut right after that first draft. How did you in that, moment handle it? I mean, I know it sounds like you went right back to your routine and got back on the court and like tried to stick with staying in shape and, doing your thing, but it I'm sure anytime you get  a, no it's going to hit your ego is going to hit your heart.

And so how Did you get yourself through so that other girls can kind of learn from that experience because we've all been cut. We've all had those moments where we've had disappointment, you know how do you work? 

JAYLYN: Yeah. So I would say, you know I'm a big believer in everything happens for a reason. And so, , it was not my time to join the Mystics at that point. And so I was able to experience my first season with the dream. But I think for me also was that, you know, that wasn't in my control.

COVID obviously,  then not knowing that we were going to have a season. and so it was kind of out of my control at that point. So there was nothing that I could do to. Say like, well, just keep me on the team. And like, obviously I wanted to say that, but there was no way  that I could change that.

And so, I think that was the thing for me, but in terms of just rejection overall, I think the biggest thing would be just don't get too down on yourself.  Like you said, everyone gets rejected, but, you know, it could turn into something, new possibility and new experience. that could just be way better than What you thought.

 I would say don't be afraid and I can get into this later too, but don't be afraid of failure. They say failure is the best teacher. So,  that is an example of failure that I had, and it just made me want to be even better for the Dream my rookie year.

STEF: Well, you then ended up having an incredible start to your season. You appeared in 11 games with the dream, and that's a pretty incredible start to your career. So what do you think  looking back, from comparing division one basketball to your first season, what do you think is  the biggest transition in play that you found from going from like that level to, to, you know, the WNBA?

JAYLYN: Maybe the mental side in terms of like things you have to know, whether it's plays, Personnel , how to guard people.  You obviously have been in a certain system for, for me five years, other people for years. And you have to go into a whole new system learning that new system. And so it's just a huge change. Obviously everyone's bigger, faster, stronger.  They're all pros. So no one's not good. So you have to always be on your a game.  And so I think having to remind myself of that type of stuff was the hardest, hardest transition.

STEF: Well, there was a lot of transitioning going on off the court during that season as well. So I want to talk a little bit about your experience being part of the WNBA when the social justice movement and black lives matter, really picked up conversation around the country, which, which I thought was amazing because we need more conversations around these issues.

So how did it feel to be part of a team that was so involved in the BLM movement?   During such a divisive time in the country. 

JAYLYN: It was, you know, I was just super grateful that it was. Kind of to be selfish our team because we had so many great people on our team to be able to show their voice and express their voice Like Elizabeth Williams, who was also a VISLeague member. She was amazing.  Anytime anyone asks me. About that time in my rookie year, I always bring up Elizabeth because she helped not only our team, but the whole league get the word out about black lives matter. I don't want to say over throw, but get our owner out of owning our team.  You know, she was on a"Say Her NAme" campaign all over it. And so she did an amazing job and especially for us younger people, she you know allowed us and kind of extended her hand to show us that like we have a voice as well.

And so  it was a super cool to be a part of it and especially our team with our owner. And so, I'm just really grateful for that experience because there's that there was literally nothing, nothing like it.

STEF: Yeah Elizabeth. Amazing. And she's done such a great job. Not only as a on the platform, but also coming and speaking to all of our VIS advocates, you know, she came to our last community meeting and shared sort of how she got into advocacy. And I I was taking lots of notes because I just thought, you know, she was one to say she never really thought of herself as an advocate. And then now look at what she's been doing and you all have been doing off the court is just so incredible. So it just takes one, one step, right? One moment where you decide to speak up. And I always tell the girls on the team,  advocacy is about action. And, you know, if you take action, one thing that's advocating, right.

And so that's the difference. And I think your team was a great example of taking action throughout the whole season, even after the season. So I wanted to ask you,  do you feel like things have changed, you know, all that work you guys put in does it feel different?

JAYLYN: I would say it does.  For the listeners that don't know, we brought Reverend Warnock's name into conversation and he ended up winning the Senate seat and literally changed the entire outlook of our nation in some capacity. and so.  Just seeing, you know, what's going on, in Congress and with voting, , like just that one change of our previous owner versus Reverend Warnock, that kid has changed so many different aspects of like I said, Congress and our legislative like department.

And so it's just, so crazy to think that again, like you said, us taking action, has changed the United States kind of as a whole.

STEF: Yeah, it's pretty incredible. And what does it feel like in the league now, you know, this year, does it feel any different from last year? I mean, there's obviously not as much conversation around these topics. Which part of me makes me sad because I think it needs to be conversation, but we're in a slightly different place in the world. I dunno.  Does it feel different as a team?  Do you guys feel like you're advocating for something else right now? That's really important.

JAYLYN: I would say I mean, BLM, Say Her Name is always going to be on the forefront for us with the primarily black league. But,  I think also women's sports asVIS is a part of as well  been  a very prominent feature this year. You know, our finals are seen a lot of different metrics with our, especially our finals, this, these last couple of weeks.

And we had like 1 million viewers, this last game, which is like the most since I forgot the exact date, 2003, maybe I think  which is crazy, but just seeing that change and seeing like, "Hey, like you say, people don't watch women's Sports but literally people watch women's sports."

And seeing that change is just been so cool and just hope it keeps growing further.

STEF: I love that. Well I love seeing the positive momentum and it's really incredible. That kind of brings me a little bit to our next topic because as part of the lead, but doesn't get paid enough. You guys are often then thinking about, okay, after leagues over here in a week, you're going to be going off to Europe, China, Italy  all different parts of the world to play in your next season.

So can you tell us about that experience? You went to Russia . What is that experience like and how does it compare to playing in the WNBA?

JAYLYN: Yes, it is so different.  So as I said, I had a quick turnaround to go to the bubble. But within five days of being home from the bubble, I was sent off to Russia. So I'm very quick turnaround and again, in the middle of COVID. 

So. Just there's a lot of unknowns. But I was grateful to have another American teammate.  She played at  Kansas state , and we kind of help each other throughout that process. But it is very different, you know, you're in a country, you don't know the language. your teammates don't speak that great of English, your coach doesn't speak English.

You're pretty much living by yourself in a foreign country and maybe living by yourself for the first time anyway. And so,  there's so many different aspects that are challenging.  But I was so grateful to be able to rely on each other throughout the process.

STEF: If you had known a few things before actually going overseas for your first season, what do you wish you would've known? So we can pass that learning onto some of the other girls who are about to go for their first season. 

JAYLYN: Okay. I would say this is tough. I would say probably. So the different, like athletic training and recovery type stuff  is not as big of a deal, I would say overseas. I've thankfully was able to bring some recovery options, like a Norma tech and like hyper volt. I brought a yoga mat and a roller to be able to do that type of stuff, because it's just not as  I don't want to say as an important of a topic overseas, but  I don't think, talk about talking about enough. And so you kind of have to do that yourself, yourself.  And I would say obviously the food is different. So you kind of have to be open-minded on that aspect. One of the biggest things for me that I totally just kind of went over my head, was going to the grocery store and not being able to read a label. 

The first time I walked to the grocery store, I was like, wait, I actually don't know what anything is. And like going to the store and you see like sour cream versus yogurt, obviously in the United States, you can see, it says sour cream versus yogurt, but overseas you look and there's the same exact thing.

Just sends the little different wording and you're Like, all right I have no idea what this is and I can't exactly open it. So those, those little things that you might not think of but are big things.

STEF: Yes. I moved to Italy, after I graduated from college to start working for Nike. And  I'll never forget my first trip to the grocery store as well. I couldn't read anything like, like the little things were hard, you know, the stuff that you'd never thought of before were hard, you know? 

But it's so important. It's such a great experience to get into a different culture.  But it doesn't seem like that's like the driving force. A lot of the reasons why you guys go overseas is because you have to get paid. You need to get paid more. And so talk a little bit about the difference in pay like between, you know, playing a season in the U S versus playing a season overseas in Russia.

JAYLYN: Yeah. So there were some differences in pay  can be definitely astronomical depending on,  obviously who you are, the player you are  how long you've been in the league.  That type of stuff. So I played in the Russian league and there's another great team,  that a lot of the basketball world knows Ekaterinburg  and they have Brianna Stewart, Courtney Vandersloot, Allie Quigley, John Paul Jones  Brittany Griner.

They have all of these like household names and they say there's, there's like a rumor that their owner,  is just like throwing like cash at them pretty much, because he wants to be the best and so they obviously get paid a lot more than maybe a rookie who's just coming off like a season, you know playing in some games.

But you know, it does help even whether we get more than our WNBAsalary or just the same, or even less that supplemental income to help us, I mean, just help us live, honestly. It's super important and  I'm just as grateful that I'm able to obviously experience the world, and just playing basketball and having that be my job  to be able to earn that, you know, but  it is definitely different, depending on, you know, what team you play for and stuff and what league  but it, like I said, the supplemental income definitely helps.

STEF: Well, we hope that we can start seeing increased, salary in the U S cause it would be great to have you guys here more you know, especially  the women have like families, it's gotta be really hard or even just significant others to like, be a way that, long. So, I mean, it's definitely part of the deal right now when you decide to go pro and I think that it's a lifestyle decision. So what advice would you give to a girl in college right now? Who's considering to go pro and she's trying to figure out how do I do it? Do I not?  What message  would you want to share with her as she's trying to make her decision? 

JAYLYN: You know, I think it's always great to go out of your comfort zone. And for me I'm like very type a, like being like set in my ways and always know what I'm doing. Big planner and going overseas, like just as a total change up from.  I think it really helped me get on my out of my comfort zone and different aspects.

And so I think taking that extra step, and again, you get to travel the world,  meet different people, experience different cultures.  And I think that just helps you grow as a person as well.  So I would say do it because, also you never, you might not ever get a chance to do it again, you know, when you get older and you start getting relationships, having a family,  and that dream, you know, can subside a little bit,  having to deal with that. so I think like  if you have the chance to, and it's your time,  I would say do it because, you might not be able to ever do it. 

STEF: What if you're one of the girls out there that just got told no,  didn't make it to the draft, but finished her career at college And, is now  a year into her job, maybe whatever it is, whatever field it is. And she's sitting there listening to this podcast right now and saying, Hmm, should I give it another go? like, I do love the game. What would you say to that 

JAYLYN: I would say do it. So I actually have a friend. She graduated from college. She went to coach for a team for a year and she was like you know what? I missed the game. And she were really close. We grew up playing together And she was like, you know, like she asks about like agents and different leagues And stuff with me.

And she was like you know, I'm thinking about doing it. I'm like, honestly, you should. Because again, like I said,  you might not get the chance again, especially if you're farther removed.  And she like did it, her. Went and started getting back in shape, started training again, and she's playing in Germany right now, which is awesome.

I'm so happy for her. And I would say do it, you have, a bunch of dreams and, this is just one way to, try to try to make that a reality. And so I would say do it because you might not get the chance to again.

AD: Thank you for listening to the  Voice In Sport podcast. My name is Shianne Knight. I'm a junior, soccer player at Howard Universityand producer of this week's episode. If you're enjoying hearing from Jaylyn and would like to get the chance to talk to athletes like her, go to voiceinsport.com to sign up for a free membership and gain access to exclusive episodes, mentorship sessions, and other weekly content. Don't forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter,and TikTok at Voice In Sport. Now let's get back to the episode.

STEF: I love that. Okay. Well let's go into  confidence a little bit. I know, you and I are both really passionate about confidence and the importance of it And when you lose it, how you get it back and, this is a big reason why I started VoiceInSport  Because I believe that it's, it's sometimes really hard for these young girls that drop out of sport, a lot of the reasons is because of confidence. That's also why we named the company VISbecause this is a Latin word that means force and strength and power. And where do you get that strength? Where do you get that inner confidence? I want to break it down a little bit with you because you've most recently gone through, an injury and a pretty big one, right?

STEF: Your tore your ACL at the end of the 2020 season. I'm really sorry about that. It's never fun. I've done that myself.  But you know, you can come back stronger and I've seen a lot of athletes do that So I want to talk about just how that affects your confidence. When you know, you go through the injury like that,  how Do you keep going? You know, when you have that injury. Dang it.  What have you been doing to kind of keep yourself going? Cause you're kind of now almost back, I'm getting ready to try to get on the court.

JAYLYN: Yeah, it's it definitely is tough. I mean, you know, I hate to say it goes through your mind, but  you know, you're in the middle of a rehab. This is so tough. How am I even going to  be able to start running again? Or when can I start shooting? You know? And I think just, I keep saying this, but like relying on the people around you, the people that support you.

My parents, my team, coaches, they've all been super helpful in just keeping my confidence up and me being able to, you know, Kind of express those. I don't want to say fears, but just  those uncertainties with them. And then I think, within myself, you know, I think I just kind of realized,  I'm not the only person that has ever gone through this, obviously,  and people have come out so much better on the other side.

And I was recently following Bria Hartley. She's playing in the finals right now for the Phoenix mercury, and she tore ACL in thebubble  last year and she just got back playing. And so she's been playing in the finals and I'm just so happy for her because I'm currently experiencing that and I'm like, wow,  she's doing so great.

She's been working hard.  And I think just like seeing that and seeing someone else go through it and being so much better on the other side,  has helped me too. So, just kind of, Being super optimistic with the future. again, relying on those people, my trainers and weights coach to help also instill that confidence back in.

STEF: Well, let's get really tactical here for girls sitting, like, you know, sitting in her house right now, listening to the podcast and trying to recover from an injury or, or get back on the team and she's feeling down about herself.   What are some tactical things you can do to actually work on building your confidence? 

JAYLYN: Yeah. So  one thing that my coach actually in college taught me,  was  positive self-talk.  Whether That's  talking in the mirror to myself and saying like three different phrases or writing.  Expo marker and write on my mirror. So I would have  to see every day, different things that  I would, you know, do that day.

So this was, this was just when I was going through a, different injury and it was like, no matter how it goes today, you know, I gave it, I gave it my best. I tried my whole.  For me in basketball, you know, if my shot wasn't going in, I'm going to be a better rebounder, a better teammate, a better talker.

 I think that positive self-talk  you have to say it and then you have to breathe life into it. and so I really think that helps. So for example, like with my injury, I was like, no matter what happens today, I know I tried my hardest, I bent my leg as far as it could go to this day, you know, let's just try to make it that much further tomorrow  et cetera, but I really think that positive self-talk really helps, like I said, you have to like breathe life into your words  and actually speak them out in the open so that you can hear it.

STEF: Yeah. What are your go-to phrases when you're not feeling great.  If this was  a mirror right now, when you'd be coming up to yourself and you're like, all right, you're almost there. You're almost back on the court.  Do you have kind of go-to phrases that you can share with the community that you do say to yourself to keep yourself competent?

JAYLYN: Yeah for me,  I would say, if I'm looking at a mirror and say,  no matter what happens today, whether I shoot well, whatever you get to my basketball for a living. So be grateful for that. You know,  you're going to try your hardest, no matter what don't take any plays off.

 Just no matter again, what happens, just keep trying to. And, use your failures in a different way to make something else better. I'd say those are my two biggest things that 

I, that I kind of say, but  I think that grateful aspect,  is definitely important too, because, even just the one thing i thought about about going through this injury is just the the ability to get up and like move my body. And once I got started walking, like the ability to walk and just being grateful that I even am able to do that and then start running and start playing again.  I think that was a super important to look back and say, you know, like I was there, but now I'm here and I'm so grateful.

I went through that to make this experience in this process even more, fulfilling.

STEF: Yeah. Sometimes you don't even realize it until you lose it. And then you're like, whoa, I can't even bend my knee to like 25 degrees right now. And then you, you get to like 45 degrees and you're like, oh my gosh, 45 degrees. 

JAYLYN: Wow. Like kind of maybe get out of bed normal.

STEF: Yeah. It's those moments though, that I feel like do it. You're in the valley of your confidence, which is tough, but it also is what makes you stronger in the end. So how have you learned from,  these failures or these moments that you've had? Like,  from a mindset perspective, how do you think about failure or think about the hardships in terms of  your future in this.

JAYLYN: Yeah. I mean, as I said before,  failure is one of the best teachers.  And obviously failing you, you don't want to fail again. So creating a different change on, off the court,  to help you not fail again, I think is important.  I think just learning from that, those failures, those mistakes, and trying to correct it, whether that's, for me, obviously with this, with my knee injury, you know, I'm just  learning that again, other people have been through this, I'm going to come out okay.

On the other end.  If I have a tough day,  you know, I  given my time to sulk and, you know, be a little upset, but then it's like, all right, I'm going to attack this next day harder. I'm going to do this and rehab. I'm going to do this on the court. Just to kind of try to get out of my own head and,  and make that next day next, whatever, even better.

STEF: So you're also a big part of our community. You're a VIS league mentor on the VIS platform. So I want to talk a little bit about  why you decided to become a mentor and if you had role models in your life that helped you get to where you are.  Why did you decide to be a mentor for younger girls on the planet? 

JAYLYN: Yeah, because I mean, I obviously have gone through a lot of it.  You know, includinginjury this year. And so just to be able to be like a helping hand, you know, someone to just talk to, cause you know, like I said, I've  gone through it probably in some capacity. And so, just to get,  an outsider's perspective.  One of my mentors I would say is actually one of my position coaches from Creighton and ,I actually still train with her now.  And I actually am working with her. I'm helping her with her middle school and high school training while I am injured. And so she's been a huge mentor. With me, you know, she is a person,  my red shirt year and I would cry after every workout because I didn't know if I was good enough versus, now helping me throughout this injury.

She's also went through a knee injury. You know, I think it's good to have  another perspective because, especially when it comes to confidence it can be hard on yourself.  Get really in your head and having that, other person's perspective to know  things are going to be okay, what you think might not be the actual reality of the situation.  Which she was super helpful with me. I was always like, I don't know if I'm good enough and she's like, you're doing just fine, get that out of your head, you know? so I think that just having that, that person to lean on, rely on and give you just another voice. Another perspective on things is super helpful. 

STEF: Yeah. Sometimes you just  need somebody else to, to inspire you to  not give up right In those moments. I mean, we talked about your college career at Creighton And how amazing it was, but we didn't really talk about all the crying. So let's talk about that because you know, and we all cry.

What was the hardest part about your time at Creighton? why were you, off the court crying? Was it because your confidence, was it because you got red shirted? What happened?

JAYLYN: I think it was with the confidence in the red shirt.  Like I said, I didn't know at first, you know, I was like am I not good enough to play? Is that why they're red shirting me? And so  we'd go into practices and, I would be like on  our practice boys team,  He's you know, like paying attention to everyone else.

Who's actually playing are head coaches versus me. Who's on the boys part. So I'm like, am I doing enough? I don't know if I'm doing good, you know, like that type of stuff. And so I would just talk to him like I don't think I'm doing well. He's not really talking to me. Like, he's not paying attention to me.

And she's like, you're doing just fine. That's what I'm here for. I'm here to help you,  obviously he's paying attention to you. You're on the court playing  but he needs to also pay attention to everyone else because they're the ones that are actually going to be playing this year. So I'm like, yeah, you're right. And so I would just get like, again, in my own head about things. And so being able to rely on her and hear her perspective, and she's like, you're doing just fine. If you want to talk about it more, obviously we can talk about it, get some shots up and discuss what you think you're doing.

So not good at whatever.  And go from there, but, yeah I'll be the first person to tell anyone I'm an emotional person anyway.  On every, the highs and lows I can cry, I can laugh and whatever, but, it was just that time, like red-shirting, you don't know where you kind of fit on the team yet. And just kind of uncertain. And so just a lot of tears, but, but. 

STEF: Which is totally fine. 

JAYLYN: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. And like I said, I'm the first person, I definitely would cry all the time.    But I, I'm grateful for her to, help me get through those times cause it was difficult, not gonna sit here and say it wasn't, but  I think it just helped me later on in my college career and now my professional.

STEF: Well, it's, it's super inspiring to see you now, you know, giving that back to the younger girls because, you know, mentors are not there to give you the answers, right. They're not there to solve your problems. and we talk about that at voice in sport all the time. We're there to really inspire and encourage and support each other.

And, what your mentor did for you and now you're doing for all of these young girls, which I think is really really incredible. My last few questions would be, you know, if you take a step back and you look at your whole career and you think about confidence and just knowing that, you can lose confidence from when you get cut, you can lose confidence when you have an injury. You get red shirted, you get traded like through all of that, which happens all the time to players and across every sport, you know, what is your advice to make sure that you don't lose sight of your goal and like what you want to achieve, even if you're getting signals that are telling you, you shouldn't be doing this, you know, oh, you got injured. Maybe you shouldn't be doing this red shirt. Maybe you shouldn't be doing this.

JAYLYN: Yeah. For me, I always just wanted to just be better. And So just having that inner kind of like toughness saying I was cut,  but I'm going to go out for basketball first. Like I was kept for, from volleyball. So I'm going to go out for basketball and show them , I can do this or my injury, I'm like, I injured my leg and I don't know how I'm feeling, can I even still play and being like, you know, I've done this for so long.

I'm not going to forget how to shoot,I'm not gonna forget how to dribble, you know, all these things that have built up throughout my career.  Just rely on having that backpack, having that base, having that backbone that like I've done  what I've done to get to this point.

If I keep continuing it I should still, I should be as successful hopefully as I was. 

STEF: Such an important message for girls.  I really appreciate you sharing your journey and everything that you've been through, and I'm excited to see you when you're back on the court. Again, I know you're going to get there.  The ACL injury is never fun, but it's always a way back, like you said, so I'm super thankful for you joining us today on the podcast.

I'm going to end with our two kind of signature questions. What is one piece of advice that you would have loved to give yourself as a younger girl in school? 

JAYLYN: To always find the fun in it. I think that's one of my biggest things especially now, you know,  going through this injury, I'm going to more.now of the business side of things with the professional side,  you know  everyone pretty much starts out playing, you know, whether it's, basketball, volleyball, track, gymnastics, because it's fun.

You know, you're young, you want to hang out with your friends and then once you get older, maybe you start feeling more pressure as on performing,  on whether you want to go to college, whether you want to go to pro and you know, that fun can kind of be put like on the back burner a little bit. and I think just keeping that at the forefront helps you in so many different ways, you know, with their confidence,  with, how hard you are on yourself, you're, you're with your teammates. you know, you're thinking of just enjoying being there and being with your teammates and playing a game, you know, Versus all the other things that could be in your mind, how you're not making shots,  how you're not being the best defender  that type of thing. So I would say it's always fun, the fun in it, because that's why we started.

And that's why we should continue because it's fun. It's what we live with.

STEF: Such a great message. Okay. So we talked a little bit about what, we want to see change, for women's sports already. We talked about pay, we talked about continuing to see women standing up for what's right. I think  clearly you're in a space where you have a platform to really drive change. So what would be, one thing that, you would like to see change for the future of women's sports? 

JAYLYN: I would say honestly, just accessibility and opportunity.  For example, we know  household names and WNBA we have, you know, some couple of gymnast that we know, we have some golfers that are like maybe the one or two that we kind of know, whereas on the men's side, you know, people can name. Like a whole roster, for example. And so I think just having the accessibility opportunity to show our sports show that there are multiple women, multiple people, that are great at this. That's why they do it for a living.  And to show, you know, show people that like we are out there we're in full force.

We are. Women and we are strong and we can do this, too.  I think that is just super, super important,  to me. And I think that it's growing, obviously now it's growing within the last couple of years. I think it just continued to grow.  And then with, I guess the access or the opportunity, You know, 12 WNBA teams, you know, not as many the NWSL teams,  we just had athletes unlimited start like pro softball and when we've had the MLB for forever.

So I think, hopefully having more, leagues, more owners,  more people kind of invest in women's sports to get the word out.  And if you can see my shirt. and bet on women  to  you know, get us out there, and show everyone and show little girls and young women that you can be just Like, us when you're older and you don't have to always, look at the men's side of things.  I think is one thing I would like to see change and it's already changing, like I said, but even for it to grow more. 

STEF: Love it. And I love your shirt. So that about sums it up because it's not a risk. I just want to add to that because it's not a risk. And I feel like the game won't grow unless you invest. And so it's so important to put the money in sponsor women, pay women.  It's why we pay all of our mentors on the platform. It's why we want to see more brands sponsoring women, women's leagues, women, athletes. But it is important to invest and so important that we put more money into the league and into these other things so you guys are in a good spot. 

Well, thank you for joining the Voice In Sport podcast. It was such a pleasure. And thanks for being part of the committee. 

JAYLYN: Yes. Thank you. This is so fun. 

STEF:   This week's episode was produced and edited by VIS creator, Shianne Knight, a soccer player at Howard University. Playing overseas and injuries are common in the world of sport, but Jaylyn reminds us that keeping perspective and putting in the hard work or the controllables that boost our confidence and help us in hard times.

We are so grateful that Jaylyn could share her experience with us, inspiring us all to keep going and never giving up. Jaylyn is a VIS league mentor at Voiceinsport.com. And you can follow Jaylyn on Instagram at @jaylyn_agnew, and sign up for group or one-on-one mentoring sessions with her @voiceinsport.com.

We'd love you to subscribe to the Voice In Sport podcast. Give us a rating and review on apple podcasts. And of course, send this episode to a female athlete that you think might enjoy the conversation. You can follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and TikTok at Voice In Sport. If you're interested in joining our community.

Sign up for free at voiceandsport.com to get started. When you join Voice In Sport  you gain access to our exclusive content and podcasts, mentorship sessions from professional athletes, like Jaylyn and access  to the top VIS experts in sports, psychology and nutrition. You might also want to check out our podcast with pro basketball player.

Sophie Cunningham a WNBA player from the Phoenix Mercury. Her episode, #37 talks about bringing the midwest mindset to the WNBA and knowing your why see you next week on the Voice In Sport podcast.

Jaylyn Agnew, VIS League member and WNBA player shares her journey with being drafted, going abroad, and facing a season-ending injury during a global pandemic. Jaylyn speaks about regaining strength and confidence amidst such an uncertain period.