Jager charting her own course in life


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News Eastern senior Breanna Jager sets up teammates Danielle Allen (middle) and Maggie Runge in the Panthers' match against Memphis on Aug. 31 in Lantz Arena.

Adam Tumino, Volleyball Reporter

Breanna Jager said she was basically born on a boat.

Jager is quite possibly the only competitive sailor on Eastern’s campus.

She is definitely the only competitive sailing, Canadian, former rugby star and current volleyball player, who also can play multiple musical instruments, on Eastern’s campus.

“I have many talents,” she said. “I’m not great at any of them, but I can do them.”

But of all these talents, sailing is at the top for Jager. Her grandfather sailed in the Netherlands, her father sails and now so does she and her brothers.

“It’s really a family tradition kind of thing, but we all love doing it,” Jager said.

She brought that love of sailing with her to high school in Oakville, Ontario, where she started a sailing team for her school. Other schools in the area were already competing, so all she needed were the sailors and the boats.

“I knew a bunch of sailors who went to my high school,” Jager said. “I coach sailing outside of school, and I had talked to my boss and I was allowed to use the boats there.”

She went back to her classmates and told them she had a team set up if they wanted to race.

“And so we raced, and we actually ended up winning four years straight,” she said.

Besides sailing, Jager kept busy growing up. She also played basketball and volleyball in high school and was a stand out on the rugby field.

“I actually was forced to quit rugby because of head injuries,” she said. “I was very good at rugby. I was on the Ontario team and was going to play on the Canadian team, but I just had too many hits to the head.”

Although her rugby career was over, she still wanted to play a sport at the highest possible level.

“I had to pick and choose what I could do, and I knew that I wanted to play a sport in university and see how far I could go with that sport,” Jager said. “I knew it couldn’t be rugby, and I knew it couldn’t be sailing because I would be too far away from home. And I was not very good at basketball, so volleyball was the sport for me.”

Jager is currently in her senior season as a setter for the Panthers.

She only started playing for club teams in ninth grade, and played her freshman season at Middle Tennessee. She transferred to Eastern after Middle Tennessee’s athletic department became entangled in a Title IX investigation that left the volleyball program in a state of disarray.

However, not all of Jager’s time is spent on sports.

“I love music,” she said. “At a very young age I started to play with the piano, and I’ve taught myself guitar and a little mandolin. My dad had a thing for folk music for a while, so he bought a mandolin and I taught myself how to play it.”

But she never felt overwhelmed, despite having so much to do.

“It’s all about time management,” Jager said. “I learned that from a young age, and I think it has really helped me in college to balance my degree and playing volleyball.”

She is majoring in biological science and had planned to go to medical school. Sports medicine was her focus, but recently her goals for the future have started to change shape.

“Over the summer I did a lot of self reflecting and I plan to take a year or two off of school and sail a bit, and maybe take some courses on the side,” Jager said.

Sailing is always there for Jager, and it’s something she loves to do.

“I’m a really big adrenaline junkie,” she said. “It’s about what you can’t control. I can’t control waves. I can’t control wind. I can’t control weather. The only thing I can control is the boat I’m on and how I sail it. I think that aspect of it is so cool to me because I’m constantly figuring out how to sail the boat to the best of my ability without drowning or dying.”

There are obviously these risks in sailing, especially in longer events. So far, Jager has only raced short courses. She hopes to compete in longer events in the future.

But even in shorter events there can be close calls.

“I’ve had a couple of instances myself where we’re capsized and I’ve been caught up in lines and had to be cut out,” Jager said. “I have a couple of scars on my feet from being wrapped around.”

But despite the risks, Jager sees herself sailing for as long as possible.

“It’s a lifetime sport,” she said. “Volleyball, you can coach it, but eventually your knees give out or your shoulders give out.”

Jager sees people into their 70s who still sail, and that stands out to her. Jager said she hopes to stay involved in sailing, either coaching or sailing herself.

“I just love being on the water,” Jager said. “It’s hard to put into words.”


Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]