By ALAN HOSKINS
Sidelined by a torn articular cartilage in her right knee 10 games into the 2013-14 Lady Blue Devil season, Hurst’s intensive rehabilitative work from micro-fracture surgery has earned her a scholarship to continue her basketball career at Northwest Missouri State University (NWMSU) in Maryville.
“I felt comfortable when I visited there,” says Hurst. “The environment and atmosphere of the town was awesome; everyone I came in contact with – the coaches, instructors and others on the staff – were very willing to help in whatever way was needed.”
It’s at opportunity Hurst was not sure she’d ever get when she went down in the first eight minutes of the Blue Devils’ home game against Central Methodist Dec. 2. “I was never afraid I wouldn’t play but I was nervous I would not get the looks I wanted.”
Fortunately, Central Methodist had seen Hurst prior to the injury when she was leading the Blue Devils to a 9-1 start with the only loss at No. 1 ranked North Iowa 91-87. The Blue Devils’ leading scorer at the time, Hurst was averaging 13.6 points including a career high of 25 against Neosho County and 17 against North Iowa. In addition, she was averaging 4.8 rebounds from the guard spot.
“If we had had Sam the entire year, we would not have lost some of the games we lost,” says KCKCC coach Valerie Stambersky, whose Blue Devils finished 24-8 with six of the eight losses to teams ranked in the Top 5 in the nation. “She’s the epitome of what college athletes should be – solid academically, tireless worker, did everything that was asked, never cut corners or made bad decisions, everything you’d want an athlete to be on and off the court.”
Named to “Who’s Who in Community Colleges in America,” Hurst was also a work study student assisting Athletic Director Tony Tompkins.
“I’m really happy Samantha is getting a scholarship and is going to be able to continue playing basketball,” says Tompkins. “She’s a high quality kid with a great work ethic; very deserving and we’re very proud.”
Hurst began her rehabilitation almost immediately after her injury, spending one to two hours a day five days a week under the watchful eye of KCKCC trainer Rodney Christensen.
“A lot of athletes coming off an injury won’t make the commitment but she was there every day, always with a smile on her face,” said Christensen. “It takes a lot of patience and a lot of hard work and she did it every day with a great attitude.”
Hurst will to continue to work with Christensen through the end of June, then move to the Maryville campus. The daughter of Roger and Lori Hurst of Harrisonville, she has two brothers, Jake and Justin.
At Northwest Missouri, she’ll be reunited with a former KCKCC teammate, Alexandria Blaurock, who was selected KCKCC’s Female Athlete of the Year for 2012-13.
“It’s exciting to know I’ll have someone on the team I know and have played with,” says Hurst, who is not content with just receiving a scholarship. “I want to go there and be successful, not just ride the bench.”
PHOTO: With her father, Roger Hurst, as a witness, Kansas City Kansas Community College sophomore guard Samantha Hurst signed a letter of intent to attend Northwest Missouri State University. (KCKCC Photo)