Thriving On and Off the Court

Big shoes to fill and even bigger talent to outshine.

Junior Skylar Blackstock has played basketball from a young age — before the age of four, the beginning of her basketball career stemming from her parents who both share the passion for basketball.

“She seems to be so much better than we ever were and we were Division I basketball players,” Jeremy Blackstock, her father said. “She’s a lot better in school than we were and we were good students. She’s more than we could ever ask for or imagine.”

Almost every day, Blackstock trains and practices for at least five hours, her only thought and mindset being basketball.

From the young age of four, Blackstock joined a recreation team to play basketball. Then in middle school, Blackstock began her athletic career by joining in a variety of different sports.

Her parents encouraged her to venture into different sports along with extracurriculars ranging from playing two instruments to softball, swimming, karate and more, eventually deciding to permanently devote her energy to basketball.

“I didn’t have time for multiple things, and so I just stuck to basketball because this is what I have the most fun doing and it’s what I’m best at,” Blackstock said.

As a child, Blackstock’s talent for athletics was nurtured through the passion both her parents shared — her mother and father playing Division I basketball in college but also through the naturally acquired talent she had for sports. Now, her father runs the travel basketball team she plays for, the Charleston Elite.

“I started off knowing it was one of my talents and so I put a bunch of work into it and it’s made me as good as I am because my parents are both good at basketball,” she said.

In school, Blackstock plays mainly as a three-guard for the varsity girls basketball team. Most players either play as a four or a guard although throughout the game she plays every single position and scores 18-19 points on average per game..

“They play inside a three and they play out so they get rebounds but they also shoot and drive and dribble up the floor,” she said about her position.

For the Charleston Elite, to gain more exposure, the team will be going to big tournaments such as in Orlando and Nashville. Being on both teams means that Blackstock has basketball all year round because along with playing for travel and school, she has training with her personal trainers.  

“When we do travel basketball we miss school a lot because it’s a three day tournament, so it’s Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” she said. “I’ve been missing school for basketball since the sixth grade.”

Since middle school, Blackstock was frequently faced with putting basketball close to schoolwork. Putting her energy into basketball and training for two to three hours a day meant less time she could invest in doing homework and putting enough focus for school.

Now that Blackstock has set a schedule that works for her to be able to juggle both basketball and academics smoothly, her days go on easier. Basketball has proven to be a way to release her motivated, competitive spirit and she finds a certain calmness when playing basketball.

“When I go to play basketball I just forget about everything.” she said. “Anything could be going on and I could forget all about it. When I’m stressed out in school basketball is an outlet for my emotions and it’s like a break from everything.”

Also being athletes, Patti and Jeremy can understand how much toil and strain can come with constantly practicing to be the best as they can be.

“I’m supportive of it because I’ve lived it myself but it takes a huge amount of time, energy, and blood and tears,” Patti said. “We know there are areas Skylar can improve and she is working hard in her free time to do just that.”

The best thing about playing basketball being, “A part of a team and knowing that a group of people will always be there for you and help you.” Blackstock appreciates the support and how much she enjoys the sport.

Achieving this far in basketball has been hard but fun for Blackstock as she said, “I have to work so hard but it’s something I enjoy doing. My parents put a lot of pressure on me to perform my best but I have fun doing what I’m doing and I try to work as hard as I can.”

Blackstock doesn’t rely on basketball just as a stress reliever, however. Constantly, she strives to practice in order to improve her skills and preparation.

“Over break, I would have games and I would go an hour before we had to be at Wando and I would go to the Park West Open Gym,” she said. “ I would shoot for two to three hours and just train by myself because it’s fun and it’s good to get ready for the games.”

Although basketball is a large portion of Blackstock’s life, she also faces certain obstacles concerning the sport. Sacrifices such as having a regular social life and being able to hold a job were a couple of the most prominent ones, as a high schooler.

“I don’t really have time but I hang out with my friends a lot and my two best friends are on the basketball team with me so we still spend a lot of time with each other,” she said.

Blackstock has games most Friday nights and on Saturdays, most of the day she has a game and is with the rest of her team the entire night. Although, Blackstock says that her teammates and coach are a big help to helping her with basketball and doing her best to succeed.

“If you’re having a bad game they [her teammates] push you to get backup, like I’ll be slow my first quarter but my team picks me up and I can finish the game strong because of them,” she said. “My coach is always supporting me and it’s nice to know he has my back on the court and off the court.”

Wando Girl’s Varsity Basketball team consists of eight new players and five freshmen and sophomores, Cach Jeffrey Emory

With upcoming playoffs for her the Girl’s Varsity team, Blackstock said, “I’m super proud of my team for working hard together in practice to reach our current ranking. I’m looking forward to playoffs and I know that if me and my teammates continue to work hard and play our best we could make a great fun in playoffs.”

Now with one game on the line, the team’s match will determine if her team will make it to rank as number one in the state.

Wanting to have a job but not having enough time, she does babysitting when given the chance and opportunity although this means between basketball, school and babysitting she rarely has time for anything else.

Playing basketball also came with other hardships — a common injury many athletes experience, during her sophomore year, Blackstock sprained her ankle right before the biggest game Wando had.

“We were playing the number one team in the state and it was two days before,” she said. “We got beat by thirty and it was bad. If I was playing I could’ve helped my team.”

The biggest pressure she faces every game Blackstock plays in is the looming fact that her statistics are watched closely by college coaches and if she has any bad games, the schools see it and in turn, she can’t afford to have any or much.

Helping Blackstock’s athletic accomplishments and personal drive to succeed are her parents, as well. Her parents always pushing her and being the biggest influences, are the reason why Blackstock says she is successful with basketball.

“They’re super tough on me because they expect me not to be perfect but as close as I can,” she said. ”When they’re lecturing and yelling at me about basketball it’s really because they want me to be better and I know it’s gonna help me if I listen to them.”

Her parents, both having experienced and still playing basketball from their college career, are more than proud of Skylar’s achievements and how much work she put into basketball. Patti played at Radford University and Jeremy played at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“I’m extremely proud of her hard work,” Patti said. “She has to be the academic student before she can be the athlete. The experience is invaluable, you can’t put a price on the experience of being a student athlete.”

Throughout her basketball career, Skylar was always putting as much dedication into the sport in order to accomplish in her academic and athletic career. Her entire family seems to have a certain knack for sports as she has one older sister playing college level lacrosse and her younger sisters also player a variety of sports.

“My youngest sister seems like she has a real interest in basketball and might follow in my footsteps,” she said.

“[She has] heart, work ethic, training and a competitive edge,” Patti said. “She’s amazing to me and I can say that as a parent that she’s more than I ever was. She’s all around better than me and I was. I thought I had successes in life but she’s far exceeded than I did in high school. She’s much stronger and she’s full force.”