BUTTE – Second Montana Tech student Tavia Rooney has shown a love for basketball since her childhood in Townsend. The same passion pushed him through an injury last season and he returned to the field this year.

Rooney, Broadwater High School Highlighter, was a triple selection of all states in high school and was named Independent Record Holder of the Year in 2017. She signed with Montana Tech in 2019, which she called a very easy and natural.

“I came here for a visit and I felt at home right away,” Rooney said. “The coaches were good and the atmosphere was good. But once I met the professors, I think that was what made me. I knew I wanted to do something about health and Tech has an excellent nursing program. “It seemed to me where I needed to be.”

Named Student of the Year at the Border Conference, Rooney made an immediate impact with the Orediggers. She played in every game of the 2019 season, started in 27 games and averaged 11 points. She drove the success from her first season to her second year before a challenge emerged.

Rooney was playing one of her best games last season when she injured her ankle coming down from a row. She left the floor in the middle of the game and lost the rest of the season.

“We were only five games a season. “I went up for a layup and came down with all my body weight on my ankle,” said Rooney. “It was a really long recovery. It was a six-month recovery without any surgery. “I just had to rehabilitate.”

As she avoided a break or other serious injury, she had exacerbated previous ankle injuries she had received over time. But with her joints weakened, she knew that if the rehabilitation did not work, she would need surgery to get back into basketball shape.

With the help of Montana Tech staff, Rooney’s rehabilitation consisted of rebuilding the muscles around her ankle. She said the process was challenging because a lot of muscles had to be worked on that usually do not get much attention.

“The coaches were great. “I would go for rehab every day, just working hard and doing what I could,” said Rooney. “You can not tighten some of those ligaments and muscles without surgery, so I had to rebuild them by training them. It was a long process, but my key feels good now. ”

Although the rehabilitation process was long and difficult, the decision to pursue it was easy according to Rooney. She said her love for the game pushed her to keep playing, but she also felt she had something to try after her successful season earlier in the year.

Rooney was allowed to play in June 2021 and has been effective so far this season. Her striving for scoring, retrieval and tough comeback earned her the Player of the Week award at the Border Conference in November 2021.

“I wanted to try more after my first season; “I was hungry for more,” said Rooney. “I wanted to do it for my team. It was exciting to get the player of the week because last year I could not. “He told me that the six months of recovery were rewarded and I can still do it.”

As a team, Rooney said last season’s result was not what he expected. Her goal this year is to use her skills to help push her team towards an improved season and possibly a Border Conference championship.

For Montana Tech coach Carly Sanon, she said Rooney’s athleticism and effort were lacking last year. But the fight she has shown and the extra year of qualification given to her due to the pandemic could help the Oredigers find success this year and beyond.

“She is a fun player to train with and we missed her last year,” Sanon said. “Having her back has added to our comeback, she has had some double-doubles this year. She is still getting back to it, but she is set at a good tempo.

“She is a big part of our team. “I can’t wait for her to continue to gain confidence over the course of the season.”