Ripon Christian senior Renae Heida feared that her lifelong goal of playing basketball in college may have been jeopardized by a knee injury.
Any concerns she had has since been replaced by excitement.
On Monday, the Knights girls’ basketball standout signed a national letter of intent to continue playing for Crown College, a private university out of St. Bonifacius, Minn. The Storm compete in the NCAA Division III Upper Midwest Athletic Conference. Heida verbally committed in early March.
“I was very scared to tell coaches that I was going to get surgery on my knee, but they said it was fine,” Heida said.
The knee had been bothering her since last school year, but she worked through it and helped the volleyball team capture the Southern Athletic League championship this past fall. She underwent a meniscal repair following the volleyball season, forcing her to miss the first two months of basketball.
It could have been much worse. The good news is her ACL was not damaged, and her recovery lasted a month less than anticipated.
“The coaches (at Crown) just told me to send the highlight video from my junior season and get that mensical repair,” Heida said. “Last year I didn't think much of it and kept playing. By the end of volleyball season this year I just couldn't take it anymore.”
Crown first caught Heida's eye on a recruiting website. She visited in December to meet the coaches and players and explore the campus. Heida visited two other schools in the region, but neither had her major. Crown, she said, was the perfect fit.
“(Crown was) the only one that offers nursing, and I loved the players and the team so much,” Heida said, adding that prefers the colder weather. “It was kind of an easy decision.”
A three-year varsity player, Heida had her best season as a junior when she averaged 10.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals while leading Ripon Christian to the Sac-Joaquin Section Division VI championship. She was named to the All-Trans-Valley League team.
Heida only played in eight of the Knights' 28 games in this season but still managed to earn honorable mention on the All-TVL team. She got stronger late in the season, contributing 9.1 points and 5.3 rebounds.
An undersized power forward at 5 feet, 9 inches, Heida expects to play a similar role with Crown, which finished 2-14 in the UMAC and 4-21 overall without seniors.
“I just felt like I needed to be myself,” Heida said. “I can't wait to be part of their family and program/ Coach (Kevin Boozikee) said kept telling me they loved me.
“It feels so good and I'm very excited about my decision,” she added.