Women's Basketball
Blair Green Adapting to New Role This Season

Blair Green Adapting to New Role This Season

by Tim Letcher

Blair Green spent her offseason setting the stage to have a big senior season for the Kentucky women’s basketball team. Green had worked extremely hard in the summer and early fall on conditioning and on her jump shot and was poised to be a crucial part of the UK attack in 2021-22.

Green was ready to give everything she had in her final season in a Kentucky uniform.

“I was having so much fun. I was leaving it all out on the court,” Green said. “I came to practice every day with a smile on my face. I had really developed into my leadership role.”

But on Oct. 30, in a closed scrimmage against Eastern Kentucky, Green saw her path change.

“I was wide open at the three and Rhyne (Howard) and I made eye contact and we literally smiled at each other and she passed it to me and I hit (the shot),” Green said. “Next thing I know, I guess when I planted to go down the court, I took a step and then I brought my foot up. In the moment, it felt like I stepped on a cinder block or someone kicked me. I was almost not in any pain. It was like time stood still. It was the weirdest moment ever. I looked around and asked everyone if I stepped on something and everyone said there wasn’t anyone behind me.”

Unfortunately, Green had not stepped on anything or anyone. She tried to consider every possible scenario as to what was happening to her at that moment.

“I think, in the back of my mind, I knew what happened but at the same time, I was in denial,” Green said. “I was trying to come up with all of the excuses of what could have happened. I asked the ref, did you hear something? It was almost like a bomb went off or something, it was just weird. The ref looked at me and said, no, that was a pop.”

Green had to be helped from the floor but still hoped that the injury was not anything significant.

“They carried me off the floor, my teammates did. I sat down on a table with the athletic trainer (Courtney Jones),” Green said. “I said I’m just being dramatic, nothing really happened. And she said, no, let’s take your shoe off. Courtney said, let’s take your tape off and I’ll look at you and if you’re OK, I’ll let you get back out there.”

Green’s experience in the college classroom let her know right away that, indeed, she was injured.

“I’m a kinesiology major, so I know all of the athletic tests that they do,” Green said. “To test your Achilles, they do one test and my ankle didn’t pop up. They immediately knew I had ruptured my Achilles.”

In the immediate aftermath, Green and her teammates were emotional not only because of how good of a basketball player Green is, but also because of the person that she is and how much she is loved by her fellow Wildcats.

“It was hard. It was tough. The girls didn’t really know what was going on,” Green said. “The girls took it really hard. At the end of the game, we were all crying and just having a moment. They were all praying over me. It was really sad because this team was so special to me. I haven’t had this much fun playing basketball. This year was special to me. That was the hardest part, not being able to take the floor with my girls.”

It’s especially hard for Green to miss this season because it would have been her final year to play with Howard.

“Next year, I know I’ll have most of my seniors back, which is a blessing,” Green said. “But Rhyne is my roommate and like my sister for so long and I won’t be able to play with her next year, and that’s the hardest part.”

Howard, a candidate for National Player of the Year, is playing for Green this season.

“This year is definitely for Blair. She works super hard, and this was supposed to be our last season together,” Howard said. “When she went out it was tough, but she still keeps us going. She’s always in everyone’s ear. I know it hurts her but she’s making sure everyone is doing what they’re supposed to do and that we’re working just as hard as she did. ” 

Wanting to stay involved with the team, Green assumed a new role. It’s not a player role, it’s not a coaching role but it lies somewhere between the two.

“I’m trying to learn a lot from the coaches and what they see off the court,” Green said. “It’s a different perspective. Just being able to see things that my teammates don’t see and being able to be the voice between the coaches and the players is important. Sometimes, you’ll interpret better from one of your teammates trying to tell you something. I think they take that a lot better. I think my coaches are really looking for me to step up and be a big leader for this team right now.”

Green has already found a number of spots where she can be effective and help both the coaches and the players to get the most from each other.

“Sometimes, in practice if it’s not going the way we want, it can be our attitude,” Green said. “It’s hard being a leader because every day, it’s your job to step on the court and have a good day, even if you’re having a bad day. As a leader, it’s our job to always have a great day. So if we’re off to a bad start, instead of putting our negative energy on the coaches, it’s my job to bring them back and remind them that we’re leaders and we’re supposed to set the example. Hearing that from me, they take it a lot better.”

She has also taken some of the younger players on the team, most notably freshman Jada Walker, under her wing.

“I’m really trying to mentor a couple of the younger players,” Green said. “They really want to hear what you have to say. So far, it’s been awesome.”

She has, without a doubt, made a difference with the team already this season.

“She’s definitely had a huge impact,” said forward Dre’una Edwards. “That’s coach Beezy (the team’s nickname for Green) right there.”

Green is the daughter of two coaches, so the coaching vibe is in her blood. One would think it would be a natural fit for her, but that’s not quite the case.

“Not necessarily. I haven’t always thought about always being a coach,” Green said. “It’s just a lot. I don’t know if I want to deal with everything.”

But she is having a great opportunity this season to learn from an experienced UK staff.

“We have some of the best coaches that there are and being able to learn from them, learn about the game and even off the court stuff, they really pour so much into me,” Green said. “Being able to have that contact with them off the court is huge. They just keep filling me with new things. I’m constantly learning. My perspective has just been so much different, I really feel like I have matured. I’m trying to take every opportunity to get their knowledge.”

Specifically, Green has learned a lot from UK assistant coach Gail Goestenkors, who is in her first season in Lexington. Goestenkors is a Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame member who has coached in college and in the WNBA and who is giving Green a crash course in coaching.

“I go and talk to Coach G all the time. We always talk and I’ve been doing scouting with her and she’s been mentoring me and guiding me,” Green said. “The other day, she said Blair, you should think about coaching. I don’t know, but she said that I really need to think about that. We’ll see where this year goes and if I’m really into it.”

While she was originally hesitant about being a coach, Green seems more open to it now, especially because she would have the opportunity to mentor young children.

“The more I think about it and I think about going home and working with younger kids or having to step in and coach at times, I see that I’m really passionate about this stuff,” Green said. “I can see myself doing it but I’m trying to figure it out. This year may be a blessing and show me my path.”

Whether she ends up coaching or not remains to be seen. But Green does have another year of eligibility and she plans to be back at UK next season. Meanwhile, she must first rehab her injury.

“Achilles injuries, everyone is so different,” Green said. “They said like nine months (to fully recover) but I could come back in seven or eight, it just depends on my body. They are looking at being a full go in nine months.”

Green knows that her business in a Kentucky uniform is not quite finished.

“I’m still trying to be positive about it and I’m even more motivated for next year,” she said. “God has a plan for me and I’m just trying to keep that in my mind.”

What that plan entails remains to be seen but Green and her positive outlook on life will make the most out of whatever path she decides to travel.


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