Jan. 26—For Grace Bruner, a freshman at Transylvania University, her dream of playing college basketball was almost dashed due to a major knee injury. A lot of athletes will have to battle through an injury at some point in their career, but for Bruner, she had to do that twice.
"Dealing with injuries and not being able to play sparked a fire in me not only to play again, but to be the best version of myself on and off the court," Bruner recalled.
It was an ACL tear that robbed Bruner of her junior year (2021-22) of high school basketball, one in which her team, the Somerset Lady Jumpers, won a district title, but that didn't stop Grace from coming back to star in her senior year.
"I've learned that you can't take anything for granted. I believe it has made me more mentally resilient, patient and it has given me a deeper appreciation for the game of basketball," she stated.
Indeed, you could tell that she was locked in all throughout her senior sports season, not only winning the Commonwealth Journal Girls' Soccer Player of the Year award en route to leading Somerset to the regional title game, leading the Jumpers' in scoring in basketball and securing a spot on the All-County Team, as well as being on the cheerleading team and track team, but also winning the Commonwealth Journal Female Athlete of the Year award.
She often did two sports in the span of one night, going from putting in work on the basketball court to cheering on her male counterparts afterwards.
Bruner was the point guard and also the captain of the Jumpers, but like any athlete making the jump to college ball, is finding her footing with the Pioneers. Considering that this year, the Pioneers are the defending Division III National Champions and haven't lost a game so far this year, the pressure surrounding her is massive. However, Bruner is thankful of the atmosphere and noted her game is growing at a steady rate.
"Since becoming part of the program, my game has grown tremendously. I get to practice and learn everyday from national champion players on the best team in Division III. Coach [Juli] Fulks and her staff are great and are taking me and my game to a whole new level," she explained.
As for the younger athlete who may be struggling with their own injury problems, Bruner said to just never quit and to trust in the Lord.
"Trust in the Lord above. My advice would be to never quit, stay involved with your team, rehab hard and always have the goal of being better than you were before. A lot of people will doubt you, but if you truly want it, just like anything in life, you've got to put in the work," she stated.
Bruner also noted a certain verse in the Bible as inspiration to keep going during her injuries.
"Romans 8:18 says: "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us." That verse shows us to shift your focus from how suffering affects us to opening our eyes and fixing our gaze on Jesus," she explained.
Whatever the future may hold for Bruner, the young lady is sure to handle everything that life throws at her with confidence and a lot of "Grace." Look for her to continue to improve throughout her collegiate career.