EMPORIA, Kan. (WIBW) - It's Senior Day at Emporia State.
"It just gave me getting my all going out with a bang." Senior guard Jessica Wayne said.
Wayne has left it all on the floor.
"I just thought this was really going to be the year." Wayne said.
Amidst the cheers, it's easy to forget this moment might never have happened for Jessica.
"Like as soon as it happened I was just like, okay, so you know, this is, this is, this is probably it."
Four years ago, Jessica came to Emporia State. Immediately, she became known for her ability to wreak havoc.
"Defense is something that you can, it's just something that you kind of have inside." Wayne said. It's just all about your heart and your hustle. You know, coaches love when players play a good defense. So I definitely found that out. And then, you know, I kind of ran with it."
Jessica Wayne thought for a moment her season was over after tearing her ACL. However, she proved it was a minor setback for a major comeback.
She was named the MIAA Defensive Player of the Year her junior year. Mainly due to her incredible knack to steal the ball.
"I feel like as my role in the team is to kind of get the defensive side going so we can translate that into the offense." Wayne said.
Coming into her Senior year, it was her time to shine. But, it all came crashing down on Dec. 7, 2019.
"So I did a back cut and um, I think my foot just kind of landed wrong." Wayne said. "And then I immediately felt, I knew something was wrong. but in my mindset, I'm still playing basketball. So I remember I even got the rebound and put it back up and then score. And then when I landed and I let in and I tried to get back up, I just couldn't. So I just laid there. I know it's just a, it's just a really sharp pain that kinda went through my whole body. And it's kinda just in the moment, it's like everything just is in slow motion.
Initially, Jessica was told she was fine. However, more doctors gave her the information she dreaded. The star senior had torn her ACL.
"I know I called my mom immediately, just bawling. You know, it was just like, wow, it's leading up to this moment." Wayne said.
An ACL tear is the end of the line for most athletes. But, Jessica isn't like most athletes.
"So just talking to my family, just saying, you know, it's my senior year." Wayne said. "What's mainly what our mindset was, what's the worst that could happen? It's completely torn. You can't necessarily do more damage than what was already done."
The senior known for causing turnovers wasn't going to let this setback steal her dreams.
"I don't want to regret it in the near future and say like, at least I didn't give it a try or at least I didn't go out there and give it a try. Cause if you try and you fail, then it's like, okay at least I tried. I didn't want to have any regrets going into it." Wayne said.
After missing 8 games, Jessica returned to the floor, still playing with a torn ACL.
"It was like a story book setting almost." ESU women's basketball coach Tony Wynn said. "The respect level you have for somebody that's willing to try to do that is just off the charts for me."
"even though things may knock you down, you know, you can get back up, you can find different ways to get back up" Wayne said.
So here she stands.
One last time as a senior.
Better now because of the road she's walked.