Jillian Yatsko - Ep. 008

Jillian Yatsko - Ep. 008

Photo courtesy of Jillian Yatsko

Photo courtesy of Jillian Yatsko

“Every day is such a gift, I just have this life now that I’m so happy with and just surrounded by the worlds greatest humans. It’s just such an amazing place to be.”
-Jillian Yatsko

Jillian Yatsko is a change maker of the highest regard; Founder and President of the Hazel Foundation for Athletics, Founder of the Adaptive and Innovative Climbing Programs at Mesa Rim Climbing and Fitness Center, Course Instructor for Paradox sports and member of the USA Climbing Team. Through all of this, Jillian works through her own challenges with multiple sclerosis but refuses to affix the word “victim” to herself or others in her scene. A true example that tough times don't last but tough folks do.

Born and raised in the northeast, at the base of the Appalachian mountains, she’s been an athlete from the beginning. Involving herself in classical dance, downhill skiing and rock climbing as both passionate dispatches and outlets for her vast stores of energy. As Jillian and I sat at Pure Brewing, drinking too many beers and sharing too many stories not fit for the podcast tapes, it could have easily appeared that the two of us were in competition to see who could attempt to frantically wave their arms and leap from their seat more times than the other!

Photo courtesy of Jen Gold

Photo courtesy of Jen Gold

When Jillian and I met to record the podcast, she had just finished a full day at Mesa Rim in Mission Valley. In fact, moments before i walked in the door, she just wrapped up her coaching responsibilities with the adaptive climbing team. I assumed she’d be tired and perhaps low on energy. Maybe we’d need an evening coffee fix. Nope. No sooner had we said our hello’s and exchanged a big hug than we were bounding up the stairs towards the conference room.

I have no doubt you’ll love getting to know Jillian in her words and on her terms. Through her sharp wit, trademark laugh and zest for life you’ll find a courageous human that people want to follow and learn from. You’ll hear how some dark times throughout her life have given her a rather pragmatic approach in how she handles the pain. This approach, this practical conceptualization of disabilities, has lead her here to the forefront of the adaptive and innovate athletics world. She lives how she coaches - when you step into your athletic space, you throw all the life shit away. You’re an athlete. You’re not a disabled athlete. You’re an athlete.

Photo Courtesy of Jillian Yatsko

Photo Courtesy of Jillian Yatsko

Please take some time to check out her work and see all that she does for the adaptive scene and really, the world at large. Should you pass by her (she’ll be the one with the hurried step) don’t be put off by the focus on her face. There’s a good chance she’s mulling over at least 3 dozen new project ideas in her mind. Give her a shout, your preferred greeting (single arm chest bump hug thing? one arm high, one arm low hug? high five?) and strike up a conversation. It’ll be a highlight of your day.

Oh, and don’t be offended when she abruptly says “okay, great, gotta go, bye!”. While she was chatting she also figured out the answers to most of her 3 dozen new project ideas and she’s going to run off to start them all up, at the same time.

As always, my friends, to your wildest self, be true.

Photo courtesy of Jen Gold

Photo courtesy of Jen Gold

Episode Links

The Hazel Foundation for Athletics :: For children and adults to find confidence through sports in a stimulating environment

The Hazelcast :: Spreading the word about adaptive athletics and the importance of its inclusion in sports

Paradox Sports :: Making climbing accessible for people with disabilities

USA Adaptive Climbing :: For bouldering and sport climbing

Mesa Rim :: In San Diego or Reno and looking for a climbing gym? Look no further!

Climb for a Change :: Wonderful article written by Jillian for the Encinitas based clothing company Vuori (bonus, I freaking love their clothes and think you will too!)

Above All, Acknowledge the Pain :: Harvard Business Review interview with Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. It’s beautiful, a must read.

Don’t Squat with Yer Spurs On :: Get it! There’s a new version but it includes “your” instead of “yer”, so in that way, it’s not as cool. Buy the “yer” version.

Echo Cliffs :: Great sport crag in SoCal!

Photo courtesy of Jillian Yatsko

Photo courtesy of Jillian Yatsko

Leslie Kim - Ep. 009

Leslie Kim - Ep. 009

Ruthanne Zouboukos - Ep. 007

Ruthanne Zouboukos - Ep. 007