A calming influence on her teammates, graduating senior and student-athlete Jordan Strickland successfully balanced coursework, competition and her health throughout her college career.
On the tennis court, Strickland is a focused, intense, yet level-headed player for Western Carolina University. Nothing seems to rattle her.
Perhaps it’s because of the way Strickland approaches her life. At three days old, she was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis – a progressive, genetic disease that causes persistent lung infections and limits the ability to breathe over time.
But that hasn’t stopped Strickland from becoming one of the Catamounts’ top tennis players. Strickland now holds the tennis program record for most wins in singles play with 38 career victories.
Being active helps those with CF remain healthy. As a kid, Strickland’s family didn’t talk about CF much. She simply took her medicine and played with other kids. Strickland competed in a variety of sports before her grandmother introduced her to tennis at age 7. Other than coaches, the only one who knew about her condition was McCall, her best friend since childhood.
“Growing up, I’ve had to learn how to do things more on my own and take care of myself,” Strickland said.
The life expectancy of those with CF in the U.S. has increased to 37.5 years, with many living much longer. With the discovery of new treatments and medications, that number is expected to continue increasing. According to verywell.com, in 1962 the average life expectancy of a child with CF was 10 years. It’s now predicted that children born with CF in the 2000s will survive into their 50s.
WCU women’s tennis coach Michaela Kissell-Eddins didn’t let Strickland’s CF stop her from recruiting her. Strickland was a four-star recruit and ranked as high as 160 nationally out of Cary’s Panther Creek High School. She was ranked the No. 3 recruit in North Carolina.
“Obviously, cystic fibrosis is a serious condition, so we are always concerned with making sure we are doing what’s in her best interest. From the start, we were assured that playing tennis and working out are actually really beneficial to her health,” Kissell-Eddins said. “In terms of recruiting her, we never doubted for a second that we wanted her on our team, or that she could overcome any struggles she has to achieve her goals.”
Strickland, who will graduate with a degree in computer information systems, is particularly interested in data analytics and would like to chart data as a means to enhance athletic performance. After college, Strickland plans to remain involved in tennis recreationally. In the Fall of 2020 she's attending graduate school to obtain a Master of Science in Analytics at the Institute for Advanced Analytics at NC State.