Passion for track guided by family values

Freshman triple jumper Charisma Taylor strives to be better athlete, person through spiritual beliefs



Describing her path to WSU, freshman hurdler and jumper Charisma Taylor explains how her parents encouraged her to continue with track and field as they recognized her ability at a young age, Tuesday afternoon in Bohler Gym.

MAGGIE QUINLAN, Evergreen reporter

Triple jumper Charisma Taylor said her family’s connection to God pushes her to grow as an athlete and a person.

The freshman athlete grew up in the Caribbean city of Nassau, the capital of the Bahamas. She comes from an athletic and religious family.

Her two older brothers both came to boarding schools in America to pursue their sports; swimming and basketball. Charisma said with her father’s encouragement, she followed in her brothers’ footsteps and flew off to Geneva, Ohio, for high school at SPIRE Academy.

“He kind of thinks he’s my coach,” Charisma said. “He fought for me to go to SPIRE.”

Charisma said her parents pushed her all her life. When she started track at 8 years old, she hated it but her parents forced her to go.

Her father Dewey Taylor said she made an impression even at a young age.

“She was beating all the boys and everybody,” Dewey said. “Jumping farther than the boys.”

As Charisma got older, she fell in love with the feeling of overcoming a challenge.

“She said she loved [triple jump], I asked why,” Dewey said. “She said, ‘Because it’s more difficult.’ ”

Before coming to WSU, she attended the University of Arkansas. While competing for Arkansas, she suffered a stress reaction in her leg, close to a hairline fracture, that prevented her from competing that season.

Charisma said her family and belief in God gives her power when she faces challenges such as her injury.

When she was younger she resisted going to church in her hometown, Dewey said, but now that she’s far from home he’s seen her spirituality become a major force in her life.

“I saw her tweet something [spiritual] the other day and I realized my baby’s grown up,” Dewey said.

Charisma said she prepares for competitions with help from God. The night before a meet, she listens to gospel music and visualizes the entire competition.

She said Pullman feels like a family environment thanks to her coaches, but she doesn’t feel free to express her spirituality as she does in the Bahamas.

“It’s hard, I feel like I have to hide it,” Charisma said. “I don’t know how people are going to react and not everyone is spiritual.”

However, some of her teammates understand. She said when she hears God’s voice, his messages are almost always about other people.

The week before nationals, she said God told her to pray for Emmanuel Wells Jr. and to give him a line of scripture, Zechariah 4:6. It reads, “Not by power, nor by might, but by my spirit.”

“I actually prayed with him the day before he left,” Charisma said. “I want to hear [God] more. Constantly reading the Bible, praying — I haven’t been fasting as much because I feel like it makes people weak.”

Charisma’s coach in Nassau, James Rolle, said Charisma is determined and a hard worker, but her care for other people makes her special.

“She has a great spirit,” Rolle said. “She’s always comforting people … she believes in her coaches.”

As an athlete, her goal is to make it to Nationals, the World Championships in August and then the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. However, in her personal life, she hopes she can develop her connection to religion through speaking in tongues like her mother.

“My mom speaks in tongues,” Charisma said. “She’s a real warrior.”

Charisma said she believes she could miss her blessing if she gives into temptations, so her religion keeps her in line with her athletic goals.

“We tried to instill in them that your gift is from God,” Dewey said. “They learned from a young age it’s not about you.”

Charisma hopes to bring joy to people through baking when her athletic career ends. Her major is hospitality management and she owns a business in Nassau called Rizzy’s Cookie Jar.

For now, her immediate goal is to get through the season injury-free. So far, Charisma’s personal best in the long jump and triple jump at WSU is 6.03 meters and 12.96 meters respectively.

She thinks she’ll improve through diligence and belief.

“You have to work, but you still have God’s hand on you, he’ll push you,” Charisma said. “And he’ll never give you something you can’t bear.”