Athlete Spotlight: Tyler Williamson
It was the day before the national championship meet, and Tyler Williamson, UTSA's record-breaking long-jumper, wanted nothing more than to go to bed early. Instead, when his boss asked him to take an extra shift as an attendant at a San Antonio neighborhood pool, he grudgingly agreed.
The decision saved a 3-year-old's life.
Williamson was in the middle of his shift on June 3 when toddler Jaden Muhlenbruch was found unconscious at the bottom of the pool. After the boy was pulled out of the water by a neighbor, Williamson used CPR to resuscitate him.
"I felt really lucky that I was there," he said. "I felt like he was really lucky, too."
Williamson was certified in CPR while in high school. He didn't remember much, but he let instinct and training take over.
"It was scary, but one of the most rewarding things was to see how precious life is," the 22-year-old said.
Early the next day he was bound for Des Moines, Iowa, to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championship. He didn't do as well as he had hoped, but he's been working hard in the off-season, training at least two hours a day and watching what he eats to maintain five percent body fat. He said he's never been in as good shape as he is now.
"I'm pushing harder than I have in the past. I'm getting really good right now," he noted. "I think this year is going to be a really good year for me."
For this prediction, the senior kinesiology major credits his strict diet of lean meats and lots of vegetables and fruits.
"This sudden fascination with nutrition is what has really elevated my level of athleticism," he said. "With track, everybody is about the same athletic ability, so it's a matter of who works harder, who takes care of their bodies the best. You have to train your body to be like a refined machine."
Williamson has experienced a shift in attitude lately, which has also affected his performance. It wasn't only saving a boy's life that gave him a new perspective. It was the realization that being a good person and living life the best way possible is the only way to earn respect.
"I just want to be better than the person I was yesterday," said the Houston native. "You can be a great athlete and a terrible person and people won't respect you."
He grew up with his grandfather always reminding him to "live between the ditches," or choose a straight and narrow path.
"It didn't really hit me until my junior year [in college] that what he means is if you want to reach your goal, you can't really deviate," Williamson said. "He still reminds me every now and then."
After graduation, Williamson hopes to snag a job as a college track coach. He's also toying with the idea of running professionally. Eventually he'd like to earn a master's degree in nutrition and become a dietician.
"I want to help people," he said. "I want to be an inspiration to people about how to eat right. And I want to let people know not just how to be good athletes but how to be good people."