Earlier this season, junior guard/forward Taylor Kissinger took a charge in practice, causing her to fall and hit her head on the ground. Right when Kissinger hit the floor, she knew she had a concussion.
Kissinger continued practicing for a bit because she didn’t want to sit out, but eventually the trainer realized something was wrong when Kissinger ran to go grab Tylenol.
“I really tried for [head coach Amy Williams] not to see me, but then she took me out,” Kissinger said.
That feeling is all too familiar to Kissinger, who has had to overcome many injuries that have interfered with her basketball career.
Kissinger’s first basketball injuries were also her most challenging to deal with. In her junior year of high school, she broke her wrist. During her senior year, she broke her wrist again, causing her to have to sit out of a combined 27 games.
In Kissinger’s freshman year at Nebraska, a knee injury forced her to sit out for a month of the season. Last season, she missed a few games due to illness, but otherwise made it through the season, her healthiest in a long time.
Coming back after an injury can be difficult both physically and mentally.
“I mean it’s tough,” Kissinger said. “I put in the work in the offseason and everything, but sadly I’m used to it.”
She added how different it is sitting on the sideline. When Kissinger came back, she was more than ready to put in the work to improve her team that she had to watch from the sideline.
Kissinger’s first game back was the Creighton game just over two weeks ago. It was a tough game because her first day returning to practice was the day before the game.
The Creighton matchup was a big game for the team as a whole, so it was tough for Kissinger to see none of her shots fall in, especially when she’s known for her 3-point shooting ability. Williams mentioned in the postgame press conference that she wasn’t concerned about Kissinger’s shooting.
“Everybody in the program has the utmost confidence in her and she’s just now returning to play so it’ll take care of itself,” Williams said.
Kissinger said she tried to shut out whether she was making shots or not and focus on getting stops on defense.Working through that mental piece of overcoming injury has been a challenging process for Kissinger.
“[Williams] always gets mad at me at practice because I hang my head if I don’t make shots right away,” she said.
She gradually improved after the game against Creighton, recording an eight-point game and an 11-point game in the South Point Shootout in Las Vegas.
However, her breakout game was the Huskers’ recent game against Duke. She let everybody know that she was back to her usual standout 3-point shooting with six made 3-pointers, adding up to 19 points for Kissinger.
A large part of this success could be credited to a change of mindset. Kissinger said coming into the game, she was telling a teammate that she was going to miss every shot again.
However, she decided that she had to put the past games behind her and keep a positive attitude by talking on the defensive end, picking up her teammates and talking on the bench.
“It just brought up my game,” Kissinger said.
Williams said that she’s impressed by how Kissinger makes the most out of her injuries by using them as a learning experience.
“She’s learned how to be able to use the time that she has away from practice and playing to really learn and focus on becoming more of a student of the game and figuring out things that once she does return, she wants to be able to do differently or bring to the table,” Williams said.
After Kissinger has showed how she can rise from adversity and fight to play well after injury, she, along with the team, are crossing their fingers that she can stay healthy for the rest of the season and continue making an impact on the court.