Despite 'heartbreaking' injuries, Mitchell's Taylor Giblin, Jackson Childs making most of senior seasons
Both seniors suffered season-ending ACL injuries early in the season but made the most of an otherwise "heartbreaking" situation.
MITCHELL — For two years Taylor Giblin was a fixture in the Mitchell girls basketball lineup.
And it was shaping up to be that way her senior year, too.
But in the second game of the season, the senior guard tore her ACL, seemingly ending her final season in a Kernels jersey.
That was until Senior Night.
In her final home game, like so many times before, Giblin was announced as a starter, getting up from the bench and walking through a line of teammates, high-fiving each one as she went by. An emotional Giblin was on the court for the opening tip against O’Gorman, donning her white No. 11 jersey with “Kernels" written in black across the front. And after the Knights won the tip, the officials called a timeout so she could leave the court to one final rousing ovation from the Corn Palace.
“It means a lot to me,” Giblin said. “I can’t thank my teammates and coaches enough because I couldn’t do it without them. I’m just so glad to have these people on my side.”
As she walked back to the sideline, she was met with hugs and tears from the bench.
Nice moment for Giblin, who was on the floor as a starter and embraced with her teammates after leaving following the tip #sdpreps pic.twitter.com/aTucVgvC9g— Zech Lambert (@Zech_Lambert) February 25, 2023
“I said, ‘Let’s get this game going because I don’t want to cry on the bench.’ And I already was,” girls head coach Dave Brooks recalled. “It’s an emotional thing because it means something for you. I know it meant something for her.”
Giblin wasn’t the only senior to suffer a season-ending injury, though.
Just days before the start of the Kernel boys season, fellow senior Jackson Childs was guarding a teammate at practice when he dropped his left foot back. His right foot stuck to the ground and he heard a “pop.” The result was the same as Giblin — a torn ACL.
“It was really surreal. And it was just one of those things that that first week, you don't really know what's going on,” Childs said. “Once you get the news it’s kind of heartbreaking. And for it to be that early in the season, it’s tough.”
The news was devastating for the whole team, but boys head coach Ryker Kreutzfeldt commended Childs for how he dealt with the situation.
“He handled it better than me,” Kreutzfeldt said. “When he told me, I just felt so bad for him.”
Given the similarity of the situations, both Giblin and Childs said they talked to each other about it, comparing timelines about recovery and surgery. Childs is a part of a class that features seven seniors that have been playing together since they were in the third grade, while Giblin is one of four seniors on the Kernel girls roster.
But even though their injuries marked the end of playing, both of them stayed close with the team for the rest of the season.
Giblin is easily spotted at the front of the Kernels bench, sitting next to the coaches. It makes sense as to why she sits there, given she’s taken on a sort of coaching role herself.
“She’s been at every practice. She'll get on kids if she sees we're not working hard or if she sees something,” Brooks said. “She sits right next to coach Siemsen in our games and offers suggestions.”
The role is something Giblin cherishes as a way to help out the team even from the sidelines. She said she can see the game from a different perspective and relate to the players.
Childs, on the other hand, doesn’t help out as much on a coaching front with the varsity team, though Kreutzfeldt said he has offered suggestions from time to time. Instead, Childs has taken up a larger role with the freshmen, and Kreutzfeldt said that Childs helps out the freshmen in practice, as well as during their games.
“Our freshmen talk to Jackson a lot,” Kreutzfeldt said. “He coaches them up a lot and he’s even tough on them sometimes. It's cool to see.”
For both Giblin and Childs, the unenviable end to their senior campaign is also an end to their basketball careers. Childs is planning to play golf at Dakota Wesleyan University next year, while Giblin is going to South Dakota State and plans to study human development and family studies.
But even still, they haven’t let an injury define their senior year.
“It was a lot of emotions but it felt good because it was kind of like my closure to basketball,” Giblin said of starting. “I hadn’t got to end (basketball) on my terms, and so getting to start again, those feelings were just so overwhelming and it was such a good feeling.”
“That’s a kid that’s done everything right his whole life,” Kreutzfeldt said of Childs. “Kernel basketball is lucky to have Jackson Childs on the bench.”