Every child remembers the experience of “Take your child to work day.” The day where kids all over the world get to ditch school and see what their parents lives are like at work. For IT Fight Series amateur flyweight Jayde Sheeley, that opportunity was never really a possibility because they don’t let children inside a ring where there are two people are punching and kicking each other in the face.
Things aren’t all bad with fighter parents though. You learn a lot from a person who made a living in perhaps the most unforgivable career in history. Values, perseverance, respect, discipline. These are all keys to life that can be instilled by someone with a martial arts background.
Jayde Sheeley grew up around fighting. It’s in her blood. When your father is world champion kickboxer, and MMA pioneer Scott Sheeley, you really don’t have a choice but to slap on the gloves or tie that belt around your waist at some point. Not because you are being forced to, but rather because of some innate instinct that calls you towards the sport. For Jayde, the training started at the early age of seven.
“I started out doing Kung Fu, and with that it was a lot more about the form and helping with my balance. Then I started MMA when I was 14. I did kickboxing first because a lot of the kicks I already knew from Kung Fu. From there I was hooked. I always tell people that if I didn’t grow up around it, I’d probably think this sport is pretty dumb. I mean, I’m am getting punched in the face and breaking bones. However, with the way my dad has coached me, it’s shown me that I do really do have a passion for it. He’s not someone pushing me to do it all of the time, and nothing is forced on me. I’ve just grown to love it.”
Often times parents want to turn their children into little mini-me’s by force feeding their interests and hobbies upon them. It’s unfortunate because that can stunt a kid’s creativity and individuality. With that being said, things in the Sheeley household were the exact opposite.
“My parents are split up, and one side of my family has always been opposed to me fighting. They want me to get a real job especially now that I’m out of school. My dad didn’t really want me to get into this sport either. It wasn’t until my last fight at age 21 where he finally said I earned my place in the gym, and that he would start coaching me seriously. Before that he always told me I had to put my time in and learn the hard way to see if you really want to do something with this.”
When you’re a child, you usually know what your parents job title is, but you don’t always know exactly what they do. In Jayde’s case, she knew her father was a fighter, but she had no idea the kind of accolades he achieved over the course of his extensive fight career.
“When I was little I guess I didn’t realize what he did and how much he did. I knew he fought, all over the world because he would go to Korea or something and bring me back a gift. He’s not the type of guy to go around talking about all of his accomplishments, so I really didn’t figure it all out until I started asking family members and they would tell me how good is was.”
Now that Jayde has set out to make her own legacy, one of the first steps in the right direction was making the choice not to spread herself too thin.
Since graduating from Ohio University in the spring of 2016 with a degree in criminal justice, Jayde has set her sights solely on her MMA career, and she no longer has to worry about the balancing act that had her stressed out in years past. An act that played a part in her very first loss.
“When I took my last fight I was a junior in college and it was really hard to stabilize my life with school, training, a job, and cutting weight. My opponent Chelsea, who I train with now, had been putting in two-a-days for like six months straight before that bout. After that loss I realized I wasn’t going to be where I wanted to be as a fighter while I was in college. It got to the point where I wasn’t going to class because I was so worried about training, and then I realized I better get my degree first. Then I can get back in the cage. Everything is going good now. I feel great, and I’m practicing twice a day.”
Now that Sheeley is putting in the proper amount of work, she’s a whole new fighter. When it comes to prepping for her opponent Lizzy Crowley, Jayde knows that the lengthly two years of time off for both of them makes their fight film obsolete.
“I definitely don’t think she’s a bad opponent by any means. I don’t really know a whole lot about her though. I think it’s sort of the same thing with me in a sense that if I watch her film from her old fights, I’m sure that’s not going to be the same girl I fight in a couple weeks because she hasn’t fought in two years either. My team and I don’t like to come in with a game plan. I’m just going to get in there and do what I want to do, which is to strike and make her follow my lead. I’ve always implemented the strategy that the fight won’t go to the ground if I don’t let it.”
With her only focus being MMA, Sheeley’s life has become all fighting, all of the time. Many MMA fighters attempt to work full-time jobs while still training for fights, and for some it works. For others, the stress and time consumption of a day job can have negative effects on your performance. Luckily for Jayde, she has found something that doesn’t stunt her growth as a martial artist, but still pays the bills.
“Right now my life pretty much revolves around fighting. But before I graduated, I was a supervisor at a residential center for juveniles, and that was a pretty crazy place. I was basically getting assaulted at my day job, and then getting beat up at the gym afterwards. It was just too much. I ended up quitting that job and now I bartend. It allows me to get in the practices that I need to get ready for the fight so that’s kinda nice. I think after this fight I’ll start looking for something else in the criminal justice field because that’s what I got my degree in, and that’s what I enjoy.”
As a father, Scott Sheeley couldn’t be more proud of his daughter and what she’s accomplished thus far. As her coach, he uses the same approach with her as he does with every fighter. There is no deviation away from what has worked. No coddling, no extra attention, just hard work.
“Honestly watching her move through her career has reminded me of why I was successful as a fighter, coach, and in business,” said Scott. “This will be her fourth fight and I really haven’t trained her or coached her that much. My wife gets a little frustrated, but I tell her Jayde needs to earn it just like everyone else, and she has done that. She has been very consistent coming to classes. She gets her face punched in at practice, and she still comes back for more. It’s the same path I went down, and it worked out for me.”
“His philosophy is you’ve got to put in the time,” said Jayde. “Just because I’m his daughter, that doesn’t mean I’m getting all of this special treatment or anything. I probably had it harder than some other fighters actually (laughs). But yeah, he’s taught me to learn my mistakes on my own, and I think that’s really helped me. Now, I’m not constantly asking him ‘Oh what do I do?’ The only response I’ve ever gotten out of that is ‘Well figure it out.’
Clearly there is a deep understanding of trust and guidance between Scott and Jayde. A unique and admirable relationship indeed.
To watch Jayde Sheeley take on Lizzy Crowley this Saturday, you can purchase tickets for IT Fight Series 71 at cagetix.com/it.