TWIN BRIDGES — The last time we saw Kailee Oliverson on the basketball floor, she was the leading scorer in the Montana-Wyoming All-Star game. Following that, Oliverson headed to the University of Nevada, Reno to continue her basketball career.
But it wasn’t a dream freshman season at the University of Nevada for the former Twin Bridges star. In fact, it was quite the opposite. After suffering a pair of concussions in the span of a week, Oliverson is no longer with the Wolfpack and is back in Cardwell with her family.
“I was doing training for about a week, two weeks. Then, during an offensive drill, I got hit right on my neck by one of the other post players,” Oliverson said. “My coach said I ran down the court and passed out on the sideline, but I don’t remember doing any of that.”
Oliverson suffered her first concussion during the tipoff tournament during her senior year with Twin Bridges, which led to a four-game absence. Following her second concussion, Oliverson was removed from training and working out, but something still wasn’t right. Walking to and from classes in the scorching Reno heat ultimately took its toll on her, leading to her third concussion.
“Then, a week later, I got really dizzy and I fell down again and I hit my head. I gave myself a black eye from it and I don’t remember that, either. The doctor diagnosed it as my third concussion,” said Oliverson. “I was out of practice, because the concussion protocol down there about two or three weeks that you’re done from doing anything, then they slowly bring you back in. So I wasn’t doing anything at all, but just the heat down there and just walking to and back from my classes, it just got to me.”
As a direct result of the concussions, Oliverson said she lost her passion for sports and her will to compete. After taking nearly four months away, Oliverson’s headaches subsided enough for her doctor to clear her for physical contact.
With her health returning, so did her passion for the game. She opened back up her recruitment, but not just to return to the hardwood.
While at Twin Bridges, Oliverson was a star on the track. She won five state championships and had 10 state medals total, while also helping the Falcons to third-place finishes at the Class C state meet each of the past two years.
She recently committed to Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., where she will compete in both basketball and track.
“I’m super excited,” Oliverson said. “It will help me get in shape for basketball. And I also love track, too, so it’s super cool I get to high jump in college. Right now, he wants to start out with high jump, then we might add in the hurdles, might do the heptathlon. Just kind of depends on how much I can fit in to this period of time.”
Education, too, was one of the main components factoring in to Oliverson’s college decision. Intent on pursuing a nursing degree to become a pediatric nurse, her college choices were limited. Ultimately, it was the feel of home that drew Oliverson to Northern State.
“They have a really good nursing program, which is what I’m going to major in,” she said. “And also just the small-town vibe. I went there with my mom on my visit. We got such a good feeling, everyone there was super friendly and personable. The coaches showed that they genuinely cared about me. One of the assistant coaches actually recruited me at Utah State, so I already had a relationship with her. That was another factor, too. I really loved her as a coach.”
The last six months have been a roller-coaster ride for Oliverson, as she’s battled the possibility of her athletic career ending before it could even get off the ground. Now fully recovered and given a second opportunity, her competitive fire is burning hot. Oliverson will be on campus in South Dakota in the first week of January to begin track practice.