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New sense of love for the game

It was a game against the NAIT Ooks back in February of the 2013-2014 season.

Kellsey Sinnett, then a sophomore with the Lakeland Rustlers, had the ball stolen from her a number of times and was starting to feel the frustration. She tried to make a hustle play and get the ball back, sprinting back after a steal, attempting to block the shot, hitting the shooter as she sent the ball to the net.

Her landing on the attempted blocked shot, however, would cost Sinnett the rest of the season and the next year of her college basketball career.

She had tore her ACL, and partly tore her MCL and meniscus. It would require surgery to repair. The way it swelled, she lost muscle and had to learn how to walk again. And required physiotherapy as soon as she got back from surgery.

“I remember the day I got back from surgery, my mom drove from Saskatoon to Regina and when I got home, all I wanted to do was lay there,” said Sinnett. “My mom say down and said 'no, go do your exercises'. They were two simple exercises ... she made me do it the day I got home from surgery and I think that kick started my recovery.”

Not wanting to stay at home, she got back on her feet as fast as she could and moved to Kelowna and do something with her year away from the court. There she continued her own recovery and checked in with therapists to make sure she was on track.

During her time away, she still kept in contact with Rustlers women's basketball head coach Chris King, wanting to return to the lineup for the 2015-16 season, where she was part of one of the most talented Rustlers teams in school history, going 24-0 during the regular season.

Now in her fourth year, which should actually be her fifth year if not for the set back, Sinnett is one of the leaders on the Rustlers, and one of the only ones who knows what it's like to be on the losing end more of games.

“It gets frustrating at times because there is that learning curve between first years compared to fourth years,” said Sinnett. “The ones who are returning, only know winning. And the rookies don't know anything, so me and Shania (Magnusson) are the only ones who know the mix of losing and winning. But we're slowly coming together and second semester will be better for us, but it will still be an uphill battle.”

Her playing style has changed since her injury, but the greatest impact from that attempted blocked shot would be in her mind and with her emotions, as for nearly two years, Sinnett couldn't play the game she loved to play.

“I have a new sense of what is important and the love for the game is different when it gets taken away from you, compared to just playing it because I always played it,” said Sinnett. “I took things more seriously when I came back. I didn't think I had the drive until after my surgery.”

In her injury short season she scored just 21 points. In her final game of 2016, she led the Rustlers with 22, something her coach points out jokingly, as he has watched Sinnett grow into a major player on both sides of the ball for Lakeland.

“Now I'm starting to see her mature more as a student-athlete and become more of that role model for the girls,” said King. “Her second year was a really rough year for her, on and off the court. Mental it's hard to refocus, so her taking that year off away, she realized this is a very small window to play basketball. Now I think she really wants to make use of those five years. Sometimes that's what it takes for athletes to understand.”

Working towards her degree in human resources, Sinnett will be back for her fifth year with Lakeland next year and will play out her full five year term with the Rustlers.

While she doens't know how the Rustlers will get there, the goals are simple — win provincials and get to nations.

“We have the capability to do that,” said Sinnett. “I know a lot of the girls are returning and are all going to be driven to work hard over the summer and come back. Hopefully having myself and Shania being fifth years on the team will be the driving force for a championship. I'd love to leave this school winning a championship or getting a banner up on that wall.”

By Andrew Brethauer

Posted:  January 4, 2017

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