A season-ending injury to a new school record

Senior Abbie Zensen climbs to the top in points scored this basketball season

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Danica Gatchel

Back on the court, senior Abbie Zensen warms up to play in the first game of the Summit Holiday Hoops tournament. Zensen was injured in May, leaving her unable to participate in sports. “I was a little worried at first because I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like cutting on my knee. I hadn’t done stuff like that,” Zensen said. “The first basketball game was really exciting. When I first went down with my knee injury, I didn’t see myself coming back.”

During one of the soccer team’s last games before the quarter-finals, senior Abbie Zensen was involved with a contact-on-contact collision, resulting in a dislocated kneecap and torn knee ligaments leaving her out for the rest of the season and activities to come. 

“My coaches were standing over me; I didn’t know what was going on. It all happened so quickly, and it had just happened to [junior] Cate Adler a few weeks before, which made it feel like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,’” Zensen said. 

Zensen began to participate in physical therapy to strengthen her knee again. She did a lot of knee stabilization exercises like one-legged squats, standing on one leg and leg lifts. 

“Therapy was good, but it was a lot. I was going twice a week and at the time when my knee was weak. It was discouraging most of the time because I genuinely didn’t think I was going to be able to recover from it,” Zensen said.  

 Zensen continued building her strength back for six months while facing complex challenges and frustration.  

“I think a lot of my struggle was mental. I was so frustrated I had no motivation at first, but I kept pushing myself to complete my exercises and make progress every week in [physical therapy],” Zensen said. 

After finishing her physical therapy, Zensen joined a bridge program. A bridge program is where you transition from physical therapy back into your primary sport. The program involved more intense exercise and sharper movements. 

“The most challenging part [of recovery] was when I started the bridge program. [I had to] trust that I had strengthened my knee enough in physical therapy to be able to cut and lift heavier weights,” Zensen said.

When all hope felt lost, Zensen continued to push through for herself.

“I always kept in the back of my head that this would be my last year of sports, and then I would be done once I go to college. This was a big factor that helped me push through the difficulties I was facing,” Zensen said. “I thought about quitting because I was just so frustrated that I had to deal with this. I told myself, though, that I was not going to quit on myself or my teammates. I know there would be a lot of people disappointed if that was my decision, so I knew that I needed to work hard to get back.”

Zensen’s first game back was Nov. 27, and she became an instant leader. Putting up a career-high of 36 points in the Gerald Linneman Memorial Tip-Off tournament, Zensen set a new school record for points scored over the beginning of the season. 

“I didn’t know that I set a new record till a couple of days later, after the game. I was shocked because I hadn’t even realized that I’d scored that many points,” Zensen said. “Then my coach told me and I didn’t have any words because it was just shocking.” 

The team win was an excellent motivator for Zensen and her teammates as the school has not seen a 2-0 start since 2005.

“I was ecstatic to have won the tournament. To see a team come together under a new coach and do something they haven’t in 15 years is just amazing to be a part of,” Zensen said.

Zensen’s comeback story taught her to never give up in the face of adversity. 

“You can’t just give up on something you want because I was ready to for sure. [I asked myself] ‘are you just going to sit there and give up, or are you going to try and get back and focus on what you need to do to recover and make an effort to get better?’” Zensen said