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Holley grad eyes return to college court

Contributed Story Posted 12 December 2017 at 9:49 am

Contributed Photo – Nicole Blackburn

The Mary Baldwin College (Staunton, Va.) Fighting Squirrels basketball captain and last season’s MVP, Nicole Blackburn, wasn’t planning to spend the first 8 games of her senior season on the sidelines rehabbing her second knee surgery. But after tearing her left meniscus in practice at the end of October, she underwent surgery November 15th with Dr. George Godette at Augusta Health in neighboring Fishersville VA.

Previously Blackburn, a Holley High graduate, had ACL surgery in January of 2015 at U of R Center of Sports Medicine.

The Squirrels have struggled without their best post position player. They’ve dropped to 1-7 on the season without her. The primary weakness over this stretch has been losing the battle in the paint which is where Nicole makes her living. Blackburn is excited to be rejoining team practice when they come off Christmas break on December 27. Her first game back will be against her former head coach when they host Southern Virginia University December 30 in non-conference action.

Mary Baldwin’s first year head coach, Ross James,  knows the season could swing the other way when Blackburn returns. “Nicole is a young lady that embodies what it means to be a team first player.  She selflessly commits to the team on and off the court by setting  an example of servant leadership. Her court presence emboldens her teammates in practice as well as in games.  Nicole’s greatest strength as a leader is her steadfastness and her ability to optimize the potential of her teammates.”

Blackburn is confident that her team will make a run at the USA South Conference Play-offs during the second half of the season. Last season Nicole averaged 7.8 points along with 9.9 rebounds per game.