Rutland High School graduate Kendra Grant had a bright future back in 2009. As a Hurricane she took home region Player of the Year honors.
Her skills bounced her into becoming a Mercer Bear, and as a freshman, she saw action in twenty-five games including a couple of starts.
And then life got difficult for number 23.
Grant missed half of her sophomore season with a knee injury. Then she hit another road block.
"So I was training to get back in my junior season, and during the Christmas break, my other knee started acting up," Kendra explained. "The kneecap was out of groove so it was causing cartilage to chip and break off."
Head Coach Susie Gardener knew her competitive junior may have to direct her energy down another avenue.
"To be honest, I was about 5 minutes away from having a conversation with her that you may want to be a student coach," Gardner said. "But she told me, 'Coach, I have faith God wants me to play, and I want to have this surgery and give it every shot I have.'"
That surgery robbed her of another season.
But Kendra is a competitor.
So she became a staple on the bench cheering on the Bears, always rooting and always encouraging her teammates with the quiet confidence of a player whose heart belongs to basketball.
"She is also a caring and giving person, Gardner said. Sometimes when people get injured they get so wrapped around themselves they don't worry about their teammates, but she's just that type of person."
KG, as her friends call her, spends a lot of time on the exercise bike.
The staff treats her like a thoroughbred, a talented kid that they have to keep in check, gently corralling her passion to keep her healthy.
"At the end of the day I look forward to the injury report to see how she is going to recover, because in the game, her adrenalin's going so fast that she's good, but the next day is when she feels it," Gardner said.
She's proven she can take the pain.
And these days KG is just happy to feel the satisfaction of continuing her college career as a student athlete.
"I'm just excited about the season," Kendra said with a big smile.
"This is a kid that you just need to feel good about," Gardner said. "Not only has she paid the price and she wants it so badly, but she's a good person."
The women have a New Year's Eve game against Stetson at the University Center. Since it's a holiday game time is two o'clock in the afternoon.