Northern Star: Josie Buckley
For this week's segment, we feature a senior on the UMD women's basketball team who's just thankful that she's able to play.
DULUTH, Minn. – The Minnesota Duluth women’s basketball team is having one of their best seasons in program history. But for the seniors on the team, especially forward Josie Buckley, they’re not ready to think about the season winding down.
“I just haven’t really been thinking about it much. We’ve been having such a great season and it’s been fun, so I don’t even want to think about the end. I’ve just been taking it day by day,” Buckley said.
That’s been Buckley’s motto for the past few years, when an accident happened her senior year of high school and everything changed.
“I was kneed in the head during a basketball game during our Christmas tournament. So on December 27 of 2013, I had an epidural hematoma is what it’s called. So pretty much a brain bleed from the impact that the initial hit had on me. We went in, they said if I hadn’t gone in, if it was an half an hour later I probably wouldn’t have made it,” Buckley said.
Buckley had to go through a long recovery and sat out the remainder of her senior season. At the time she had already committed to play at the University of North Dakota and went there for her first year. She still wasn’t cleared to play but decided she wanted to go somewhere new.
“I remember sitting down having this meeting with her, her parents, our team doctor who obviously, with the pictures and the paperwork and all that stuff was very hesitant to let her play, but the best thing that I’ve done since I’ve been here is sat at that meeting and pushed for him to look into her case a little bit because she’s been so important to this team,” UMD head coach Mandy Pearson said.
Buckley has been an important part of the Bulldogs over the past three years. While she hasn’t seen much playing time and doesn’t lead the team in points, she plays a much more important role to her teammates.
“We’re actually from the same hometown of Rice Lake so I kind of got to grow up with her. Her energy and everything that she brings, and she works so hard to try to lift everyone else up and she has shown me what a leader is and it’s been awesome to work with her and I’m so glad that I got to. She was one of the reasons I came to UMD,” freshman forward Brooke Olson said.
“Her passion for the game really motivates the rest of us, like even if we’re having a bad day, if Josie can come in and give it all she has and show so much love and encouragement for everyone, like we have no excuse not to and she’s just an example of what it means to love the game of basketball,” senior guard/forward Emma Boehm said.
“Josie went through it and went through it for multiple years. She was told she was never going to play again and she still continues to. So I think that’s great to have in a leader position where younger girls can look and see if she can do it, I can do it and feel that kind of confidence when something brings them down or something comes at them in life or physically,” senior guard Sammy Kozlowski added.
While Buckley’s playing career is quickly coming to an end, she’s most thankful that she’s been able to play at all these past three years.
“At one point, I was told to change my identity, I was no longer going to be the basketball girl, I wasn’t going to play basketball anymore. So when I came to Duluth, the people here really fought for me and I feel pretty blessed about that because now I’m heading into my senior weekend and I still get to be the basketball girl,” Buckley said.