By Dave Wagner: Freedom New Mexico
To this day, former Clovis High guard Jaden Isler doesn’t know what caused him to collapse on March 27 while watching a Lady Wildcats softball game in Canyon, Texas.
His heart stopped for a time and he was revived at the site with CPR. Isler, who earlier that day had announced a verbal commitment to Division I Charleston Southern, was taken to the critical care unit of Baptist St. Anthony’s Hospital in Amarillo.
He spent two weeks there, then another week in a hospital in Dallas.
Charleston Southern would not allow him to play, but offered to honor the scholarship. Isler instead went to Lubbock Christian, where he has served as a backup point guard this season.
Back in Clovis for a short break this week and working out with his father’s Clovis High squad, Isler now wears a defibrillator fulltime. He said he feels pretty close to being back to normal.
“We still don’t know what it was,” said Isler, whose LCU squad will take a 5-2 record into its next outing Monday night at Eastern New Mexico University. “It (his heart) just stopped out of nowhere. We can’t find any cause for it.
“It’s something I think about every once in a while, but with my competitive nature I don’t hold anything back.”
He said after the incident his coaches at Charleston Southern told him he’d have his scholarship if he got medical clearance, and he spent three weeks there at summer school.
“Then the (university) president stepped in and said he wouldn’t let me play,” said Isler, who helped CHS earn a 29-2 record and runnerup finish in the Class 5A state tournament last March. “He said he didn’t want any bad publicity for the school if anything happened.”
That’s when LCU stepped in. The Chaparrals had no available athletic scholarship money, but Isler was able to get academic scholarship help.
“They were one of my top three choices,” Isler said. “They kind of bailed me out because they didn’t have an athletic scholarship.
“Coach (John) Copeland and the president of the school really believed in me.”
A native of Melrose, Copeland said he has no concerns about Isler’s health situation.
“Not with me,” he said. “I just felt like this was a good place for him. Even before this happened, I thought this might be a good place for him.”
Isler plays behind senior starter Tyler Hill, but sees almost as many minutes on the court. Copeland said he’s comfortable with Isler in the game.
“He brings a lot of energy,” Copeland said. “He’s a knowledgeable freshman, and he’s going to be a really good player for us.”
Isler said he’s relieved to be where he is after coming so close to perhaps losing his life.
“Having this happen to me, I’ve had to work hard to get back to where I was,” he said.
And he enjoyed coming back this week to practice with some of his former teammates.
“I miss this sometimes,” he admitted. “It’s nice to work out with the guys and give them some tips. I feel like I have something to offer.”