A Renewed Love

N Our Voice by Kaylin Kinney

Scott Bruhn

I love this game.

I'm sure I've said it a thousand times, and I'm sure it's been said a million.

But after everything I've been through recently, I have a new, refreshed perspective on it.

I have so much gratitude and a renewed love for softball.

And I owe it to my injury.

Softball has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember.

I started playing at the age of seven, thanks to my older sister who introduced me to the sport.

Like any little sister, I wanted to be just like her.

So, I began taking lessons, tried out for my first club ball team, and the rest is history.

My love for the game deepened as I played more.

My sister and I were fortunate enough to play high school softball together for a little bit, and it was really fun.

She's been my biggest supporter and fan since day one, and I wouldn't be where I am today without her.

Once high school was over, the opportunity to play college softball arose, and I felt blessed to have that chance.

Choosing Nebraska

When I started being recruited, I didn't really understand how the process worked.

I was just a middle school girl who loved playing softball.

But when I took my first visit to Nebraska, I knew it was the place for me.

It was the first school I ever visited, and I fell in love with it from the very beginning.

I visited a few other schools, but deep down, I knew where I wanted to go.

On a visit with five or six other girls, all of us except one ended up committing to Nebraska.

The coaching staff, the people, the support, the environment – it was all exactly what I wanted and needed in a school.

Being a big homebody, the fact that Nebraska is only 4.5 hours away from home was a huge factor for me, too.

I love that my family can come watch me play, and if I ever need to go home for a weekend, I have the opportunity.

I'm just so grateful for everything that Nebraska has given me.

The support for student-athletes is unbelievable, and it's something I don't take for granted.

The injury

I've had my share of injuries before.

I broke my pinky in middle school and had to have surgery on it, which was a crazy experience in itself.

But this injury was different.

It was a hand injury that occurred during a game in Houston.

I honestly didn't think much of it at first.

It hurt, but I was used to that.

Softball is a game of pain, and I'm used to playing through it.

And I was ready to do the same with this one.

After a few days, my hand started to swell and bruise, and I knew something wasn't right.

I went to see a hand specialist, and he took an X-ray, but it didn't show anything.

He said it was just a deep bone bruise and that I needed to manage the pain and reduce the swelling.

I was relieved to hear that it wasn't broken.

My trainer had told me she was 95% sure it was broken, so I was excited that the x-rays showed no broken bones.  

I wore a splint, did one-arm work, and was allowed to pitch as long as I didn't use a glove.

I was doing everything I was supposed to do, but it wasn’t getting any better.

While the bruising was starting to fade, the swelling unfortunately never really went down.

I was throwing in games and doing bullpens, but it was still painful.

In fact, the pain started to worsen again.

When we were in New Mexico, I also started to feel some popping and movement in my hand.

I was still hoping it was just a bad bone bruise, but my trainer insisted that I should probably get this checked out again.

So, upon returning from New Mexico, I got another x-ray done at Memorial Stadium.

We took another X-ray, and this time it showed something.

It revealed a fracture that was displaced and rotated.

I needed surgery, and I needed it right away.

I underwent a procedure that lasted about 20 minutes, during which they put two pins through my hand to stabilize the bone.

I was in a soft cast for a couple of weeks, and then I had a hard cast.

Then a splint.

Then rehab.

It was a long and painful process, but I was determined to get back on the field.

Unfortunately, in 2023, I never did, though, and had to redshirt.

"I learned the importance of taking care of myself, listening to my body, and the importance of having a support system and a positive mindset."

Kaylin Kinney

A short return

After the season ended, I was basically at 100 percent again.

I went into the summer with a fully-healed hand and was excited to get back out there.

But unfortunately, life had other plans.

I needed another surgery — this time on my knee.

It was a difficult time for me because I was just getting over my hand injury, and didn’t expect to be sidelined by another surgery.

But it was also a time of growth and reflection.

I learned the importance of taking care of myself, listening to my body, and the importance of having a support system and a positive mindset.

I had so many people in my corner, and I'm so grateful for all of them. My family, my teammates, my coaches, my trainers – everyone had my back, and everyone wanted to see me succeed.

A new perspective

As I start this new season with a new mindset and perspective, I'm more motivated and determined than ever.

I'm so grateful to be back on the field and doing what I love, and I'm not going to take a single moment for granted.

I'm going to play every game like it's my last.

I'm going to be the best teammate I can be.

I'm going to do whatever it takes to help my team win.

I'm going to give it my all.

And I'm going to leave everything out on the field.

I'm proud to be a Husker, and I can't wait to see what the rest of the season has in store.

It's been a long and difficult journey, but I wouldn't change a single thing.

This injury has changed me in so many ways, and I'm grateful for the lessons it's taught me.

I'm now stronger and more resilient than I ever thought possible, and I'm more in tune with my body and mind.

In many ways, I've reconnected with my younger self, and I've developed a newfound love and appreciation for the game.

I feel incredibly blessed to be a part of this program and community, and can't wait to get back out there.